The heavy smoker on the train

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I reached seat 18A. It was an aisle seat. I would be travelling with my back facing the direction in which the train was moving. This was not ideal – while travelling in this manner doesn’t make me nauseous,  neither is it my favoured mode of travel.  I couldn’t complain – it was Good Friday and a return train ticket to Limerick was a steal at a mere 20 euro – that’s the same price as the big green bus.

There was someone in my seat. Irish Rail have this nifty little system where they allocate a seat to you when you pickup your ticket. I had no idea of this gentleman’s name, but I can guess with almost 100% certainty that his surname was not Murphy. Why was he in my seat? I contemplated finding another place myself, but in a fit of self righteousness, I looked at him and said in a polite manner ‘You are in my seat.’

He was quite apologetic and moved without complaint. I felt very manly

I looked up. Facing me on the other side of the carriage was a blonde woman. She looked interesting. I could tell that she was posh. I don’t know how I knew this but I just did. Her hair was in a blonde bob. Her nose was slightly prominent in a well reared kind of way.  She was sitting down but I could tell that she was tall and rangy. The type of person I could picture riding a horse or playing hockey. She was wearing tight, navy blue jeans with knee-high brown, leather boots, a white jacket and a white leather satchel was on the table in front of her. Sunglasses were resting on her head, raised from her eyes – well the sun was not shining, we were on a train and she was scrolling through her phone.

As the train departed she dialled a number. As she started to speak, my heart began to sing.

What a voice. Plummy, hoarse and English. She sounded like Selina Scott after a forty year old, sixty fags a day habit.

Then it hit me – she looked like a younger, cleaner living version of Patricia Stone from the television show ‘Absolutely Fabulous’.

Patsy, Patsy, Patsy.

She was positively braying with amusement into her phone. She started recounting her plans for the next week. She was on her way to Limerick – would my hometown be able for her fruity glamour I wondered? She was travelling to Wales on Monday, then to London next Thursday for a meeting, before Iceland the following week. All for work. I was curious to know what she did. Realistically I can’t picture her job being too high powered – otherwise she would not be travelling on a train with the plebs. I couldn’t figure it out though.

Her conversation ended and she dialled another number. Last weekend she had been in Northamptonshire in England, where she’d had the most marvellous meal at the restaurant of the best friend of her mate’s daughter. It is highly recommended. Judging by her cackling laugh I guess she wasn’t averse to a few jugs of wine to wash down the cigarettes.

I love a good English accent. I find it very attractive indeed. And posh ones make me feel funny. This is not something you can be totally open about in Ireland unless you know your companion. You don’t want to get dragged into a conversation about oppression and colonialism. And if you do, my mind starts wandering and I imagine being individuallt oppressed by an English gent with an Oxbridge accent.

I needed to discover what this woman’s name was. I wasn’t going to do anything daft like ask what she was called. That would be too weird. She might think I was a lunatic. Instead I went to the snackbar and bought a coffee. As I passed her seat on the way back, I looked at the digital display above her head.

How perfect. A double-barrelled name. I bet she was going hunting animals this weekend (which I strongly disapprove of but it just seemed appropriate in this instance.).

The train pulled into the changeover station in the armpit of Ireland. I would need to disembark from the Cork train and board the Limerick train. It is never dry at the Junction – it has a micro-climate where it is always pelting rain. Today was no different.

I lost sight of the cackle-voiced, posh woman. She was getting into a different carriage.

I hope she has a lovely Easter, whoever she is, and regardless of what wildlife she will be shooting for her dinner.

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