Our Inter-city 125 (or as fast as it can manage) shook us all up this morning as it started its daily challenge with the racing man. We raced each other through the dumbstruck countryside as usual with commuters squeezed in around me, stood stock rigid, fit to pop, all looking for somewhere to park, somewhere to rest our weary backs, somewhere to relieve our knees but tempers are fraying and we can’t wait much longer. Racing man breezes alongside, oblivious to the internal distress.
I saw a pair of seats a few rows down, one of which was occupied by a teenage lad in a track suit and a bobble hat, the other had a sports bag on it with some kind of nondescript logo emblazoned across it. The way he had his leg sprawled over it suggested it was his. But the seat wasn’t, so I squeezed past the mute sardines beside me and clawed my way up to the seat and asked him ever so ever so ever so politely whether the seat was free when it clearly wasn’t, as it was occupied by his shabby nondescript bag, and whether he minded moving it.
You know what’s coming don’t you? He says nothing, I ask louder, he feigns dozing, I go to move the bag, he sits up straight, fierce, defending his territory, he pulls a small knife, I stare at him incredulous then pull out my own and before you know it we’ve got blood smeared on our faces, there’s blood on the window, there’s blood on his bobble hat, we’re facing up to each other, he’s shouting, I’m trying to stay polite but there’s no persuading him to reason with me and move his sports bag.
So I push him back in his seat, and he slumps with a silly astonished look in his eyes. I bet he never thought his day would finish like this when he woke up this morning. I move his bag and settle back for the rest of the journey. Bloody East Midlands Trains. Never enough seats when you want one. I look out of the window and Racing Man is perched on top of one of the Parkway cooling towers. God knows how he got up there.