Thursday, February 28, 2008

Train of thoughtlessness

14.00 -"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Paddington station. Unfortunately all trains are cancelled due to an unforeseen fatality at Southall. "

I sit and wait, and listen to announcements and mobile conversations....

"No, tell Ann that some twat has thrown herself on the line. Yeah, I know, bloody inconsiderate, I'll be there late. Pie? Yeah great."

15.45 - "Ladies and gentlemen, the 14.05 to Penzance is ready to board. Even if you run like hell you don't stand a chance of a seat as we are going for the Guiness World record of packing as many of you into a confined place as we can. Please be patient and ignore the guy who stabs you with his umbrella because the only seat he's going to get is in the loo. "

16.00 - "This is the 14.05 and 15.05 bound for Penzance. For those of you squatting on the floor could you please make sure that you wrap up warm. We pride ourselves in not losing anyone to hypothermia."

"Mark? Yes, it's me, oh for fuck's sake! Yes, me. The train is late. Suicide, mm hmm. Well, listen then, it's not my fault you can't hear. I've got the wrong train, you'll have to pick me up at Taunton. Don't shout, if you leave now...."

16.45 - "This is the train manager speaking. The buffet car is now open but please don't think you are going to get anywhere near it as there are bodies everywhere. If you drum up a bit of Brit spirit you could get some sort of system going. Oh, and the coffee machine has packed up and the only sandwich left is cheese and something."

It is like trying sleep on the underground through the Blitz. Now all I need is for this lot to start singing - oh dear, spoke to soon.

"Shell? Shell? Aw, don't be like that. It was only one pint. I love you Shell, I love, aww don't put the phone down..."

"Shell? Yeah, s'mee, aww, don't say that, nah, don't say that, I love you."

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the next station is Exeter. As most of you humans prefer to live on this side of the bridge those travelling to the depths of Cornwall may be lucky enough to find a seat, although don't hold out any hope as there are at least two hundred souls waiting to get on. Move!"

"Don't be ridiculous, I am squatting on the floor with some witch and her bag of shoes. I think she is trying to sleep on me. There is nowhere to plug the laptop in. Yes, I know, suicide, blocked all the lines out, too right I'll complain. At least get some money back."

"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know about you but I will be bloody glad to get home tonight. The unforeseen circumstance appears to have thrown us all into confusion and I have missed my home cooked ham and eggs. Oh, and British Rail apologises for the slight delay."

To the fatality at Southall - I hope you find the peace you were looking for.......


Anonymous said...

I upset my hot cup of coffee on a mobile phone user once,whilst he had it up to his ear.Having stood all the way from Bodmin to Birmingham,and having had to listen to this obnoxious prick all the way I felt totally justified.

Yodood said...

Suicide and high speed rail - inventions of civilization slamming into each other no less inevitably than peace officers shooting disturbers thereof.

Debi said...

Roll on the days of anti-matter space time continuum intermolecular travel transporters ...

Roberta said...

This broke my heart.

People can be so insensitive and cruel. Lost in their own little universes.

I too hope she found peace.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Unforeseen fatality?

Are they ever foreseen, really? Except that second before it happens?

Glad you are home in one piece.
Bag of shoes huh? Very good!
Have you got stockings to go with them all? Stripey ones? Aren't striped stockings the best!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Unknown said...

People are un-flipping believable at times (substitute appropriate swear word for flippin).

Good post Minx - you get it all in there!

Unknown said...

Prick justice, Monsoon? I am thinking that 'mobile rage' will become more common. The other twats are the ones with the laptops.

True, G&G, awful all the same that someone felt desperate enough to end their life on a railway line.

I suppose the desperate will find another way, Debi. Maybe if we all stopped looking at our own navels for a minute we might notice them.

You can't really blame them, Roberta, but it was really poignant that not one of the mobile users used any words of sympathy.

British Rail say things like that, Scarlett, when they don't know what else to say. Trains have been stopped for the 'wrong kind of leaves' on the track.

I think you mean 'fuckwits', Cailleach.

Roberta said...

No Minx. Here in 'Merka things would have stopped. We'd have had cable news all over it and half of the riders on the rails would have been related to her in some way.

God I hate human nature.

Unknown said...

Self preservation taken to the extreme, Roberta? Has our society stopped caring or is it better not to take on all the sorrow in the world?

Mellifluous Dark said...

I commute a fair bit in London and this sort of thing, sadly, is not very uncommon. You hear 'person on the line' as an explanation – always at rush hour – alongside 'leaves on the line' and 'signal failure'. After a while, it all becomes one blur of an excuse. You're late, you're squashed, you're put out because something else in *your* life has happened over which you have no control.

I think it goes without saying that if people stopped to think, if they let themselves go there, they would of course feel for the person so distraught that they chose a violent end.

But, yes, survival mechanism is about right. What's the alternative? To pretend to be grieving for someone not known? To try to analyse why someone did something so very tragic? That, too, is frowned upon in this country (though we manage it with public figures). It's difficult to know how one should feel, and I think the path of least resistance is to be blasé, a bit like people allegedly were in the Blitz, perhaps.

Unknown said...

What a sad post, speaks volumes about our humanity, or lack thereof. Where was everyone when this child reached her place of no return.
The "taking it in our stride" attitude is reminds me of how the people around me responded to the attack on my mom. "Oh shame" was about all - no horror, no outrage, just "oh well shit happens".
Hello, Dehumanisation, my old friend... we've come to talk to you again...

Unknown said...

I do agree with you, Melli, but sometimes the truth makes me sigh.
In thinking about the assumptions people make about events that affect them, go and take a look at Debi's comments. There is an interesting thread goind on in her post about a homeless guy.

Abso, it is right that we can't take on the horrors of other people's lives, at least not in a 'mass' way. We would be emotional wrecks if we took it all on but there is a time and place to stop and think about things and support those that you know and love.

Mellifluous Dark said...

Minx, I know, the truth makes me cry and sigh. Seriously. I have to stop watching the news at times.

I wonder sometimes whether it would be less harmful to me to be more hard-shelled.

One of the reasons I left newspaper journalism (as a full-time career) was because I actually – God forbid – felt for some of the people I wrote about. One story was just too much and I changed the path of my career based on it. But, like doctors, some journalists need to be hard. Or they'd never write a thing. No justification, mind, but there it is.

Roberta said...

Heard a song today, seemed appropriate.

Trouble is her only friend and he's back again.
Makes her body older than it really is.
She says it's high time she went away,
No one's got much to say in this town.
Trouble is the only way is down.
Down, down.

As strong as you were, tender you go.
I'm watching you breathing for the last time.
A song for your heart, but when it is quiet,
I know what it means and I'll carry you home.
I'll carry you home.

Karen said...

That is a great post, on many levels different levels. Am I wrong for seeing the 'story' in it?

basest said...

ugh. i thought this was funny, until i realized that it started with a real incident. and then...i guess, i can still think it's funny, can't i? even if I think the fact that this person had some problem that caused her to walk in front of a train to be tragic.

well..thanks for making me think, anyhow.

Unknown said...

I have stopped watching the news, or at least reading it, Melli. Sensationalism leaves a bitter taste.

Who is it, Roberta?

No, Karen, I suppose there was a kind of story in it, a horrible kind of story.

Funny how people are, Basest.

Sharon J said...

First it was funny, then it was sad.

The insensitivity of people never ceases to astound me yet you'd think we'd be used to it by now, wouldn't you?

Emerging Writer said...

Poor girl. The link says it was a teenage girl, and suggests further that she was Asian. Anyone know the truth? (Or as close to the truth as you ever get after a suicide?)