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9:50pm on Monday, 22nd June, 2015:

Long Journey


I'm in Falmouth for the next couple of day, externally examining the BA in computer games at Falmouth University. I left the house at 7pm, boarded the 17:17 train to London, waited 20 minutes while the train in front was shunted into the sidings because it had "traction interlock", then journeyed to London. I took the circle line to Paddington, where at 10:06 I boarded the train for Truro. I disembarked there some four hours later and took the 14:51 to Falmouth Docks, only I got out at Penryn and walked to the campus.

I don't mind long train journeys, because you can read and fall asleep on them. The London to Truro train was exceedingly busy, to the extent that if you didn't have a seat reservation you were in trouble. Fortunately, I did, and managed to read a paper I was reviewing and finish off a book I'm writing a back-cover comment for, all before we pulled into Newton Abbot. This is just as well, because at Newton Abbot the people who were in the 3 seats around the same table as me rolled up. It was a group of three women aged around 60 who were coming back from a "girl's weekend" in Torquay.

They were very chatty, and not just because one of them had a bottle of diet coke into which she had emptied the half bottle of brandy she hadn't finished the previous day. I got talking to them, which was rather odd as they kept calling me "darling" the whole time (which seems to be local dialect, but would get me sacked if I used it at work). They discussed topics seemingly at random — Elvis Presley impersonators, how to tell by the amount of heartburn you get whether the baby you're carrying will have hair or not, the people on benefits who are just having a laugh, dogs, "Los Vegas", the relative merits of plain versus cheease and onion crisps, their desire for a mobile phone that works in tunnels, how they'd always found Rolf Harris creepy and why cyclists shouldn't be allowed to get it all their own way. I answered questions as to why men don't like shopping, what the local food in Yorkshire is, why I was going to Falmouth and the economy of Greece.

At one stage, the woman with the coke-and-brandy started emptying her handbag. She took everything out of it, but not at once; nevertheless, at times she'd put more on the table than could possibly have fitted it. She was looking for her lipstick. One of the other women suggested she look in her make-up bag, but she said it wasn't in there. Sure enough, when she emptied it the lipstick inside was the wrong lipstick. After perhaps ten minutes of this, she gave up and put everything away. Some ten minutes after that, she suddenly realised she was applying her lipstick and had no idea how it had come into her hand. No-one else had noticed either. She'd just materialised it from the ether.

I don't have a seat reservation for my return trip, so am hoping I won't have to stand between Truro and Paddington.

Penryn station is close to the Penryn campus of Falmouth University, but to get from the former to the latter you have to walk up a steep hill and take a wide circuit round a ring road. Next time, I get out at Falmouth Town and take a taxi...

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).