Sunday, 1 February 2009


Today I am grateful that tomorrow I don't have to think along the lines of 'Monday' - 'Work'. So I'm being grateful in advance. There wouldn't be any sense in being grateful I don't have to go to work today, as it's Sunday... Time to catch up on a week's worth of 'The Archers.' American readers won't have the foggiest idea what this radio programme is, but UK ones will probably class it with Marmite - love it or hate it. I believe it was originally billed as 'an everyday diary of country folk' and did actually have farming topics and/or advice wrapped within its framework. Now it's more along the lines of a radio soap with country overtones. But addictive. So I'm listening to it right now, as I contemplate what to write next.

Back to the gratitude thing. I decided to be grateful that I will no longer have to sit on an overcrowded, possibly late, train at around seven a.m. tomorrow morning, surrounded by a sea of humanity. Some mornings the twenty minute journey would go according to plan; occasionally, as is the way with railways, unforeseen circumstances would leave us stranded on what felt like life's siding for anything up to an hour and a half. If you were lucky, you'd be in a carriage with interesting people, who became more friendly as time went on, even to the point of joking about sharing our food in a 'loaves and fishes' way if the forced incarceration continued. On the other side of the coin, you could be with grumpy, impatient tut-tutting souls guaranteed to wind up the atmosphere to the point of breaking. This was more the case on the day I wrote the following.

Passengers Pastimes

It's funny what passengers find to do
to while away the time
as the Southern Railway's crowded train
chugs along the line.

There are some who read, some who sleep
and a few who somehow manage to keep
one eye open to view outside.
But, I tell you, there's one kind I can't abide;
it's those who nibble and bite their nails
'til I think they'll send me off the rails.

I well remember one young man,
in jeans, blue shirt and jacket,
who should have been issued a decibel ban -
his nail chomping caused such a racket!

Each of his thumbs, and fingers, then,
were subjected to very close study.
He eyed up his options. Which of the ten
could be bitten, and bitten and bitten again,
before they became raw and bloody?

I imagined these thoughts going round in his head
as I watched all his fingers become sore and red.
Thank goodness, my station was next in line
and I needn't endure one more moment of time
watching him chew his nails down to the quick -
can you wonder I ended up feeling quite sick?

So you can see, my gratitude about no journeying tomorrow is boundless...


  1. LOL. Would love to ride that train!

  2. I ride on a commuter train for an hour and a half, every couple of weeks when I visit Frank. It too, stops occasionally for an engine restart or ice buildup on the tracks. It's the faces - anxious, concerned, bored and irritated that I'd love to photograph if it wasn't so invasive. Great poem. Nail-biters are hard to watch - harder still to avoid.

  3. Hi, I remember the Archers, still on the go then,lol.

    Liked the tale of the chewer.

    Thanks for your visit and kind comments.

  4. Love the way you can turn your hand to a poem Jinksy! It is a fact that adversity sometimes brings out the Dunkirk spirit is us British - will be interesting to see if it does tomorrow when heavy snow is forecast for here. Do you know the wonderful Maupassant story about the prostitute on the stage coach, sharing her food? Can't remember what it is called but it is always included ina book of his short stories (he was the master in my opinion.) Keep warm if the snow hits your area.

  5. Another very interesting commentary (poem) on your life, Jinksy. I've never had to ride a commuter train, but I motored 15 miles to work for almost 30 years and would often be "stuck in traffic." Watching other impatient motorists was sometimes akin to watching the nail biter.

  6. Oh, that nail biting would drive one crazy.

  7. Jinksy, did you retire? How do you save up a week's worth of the Archers?

  8. I've outgrown Radio 1, but I'm yet to switch to Radio 4 to listen to The Archers etc. all in due time I presume :)


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