Do you ever book rail tickets via thetrainline.com? Prices are totally random, aren’t they? I travelled to London first class the other day – two single first class tickets worked out cheaper than a standard return. But then goddammit nothing really makes sense any more and everything that used to be true and safe and reliable has been warped or lost in the great postquantum interflux.
The advantage of first class over standard is that you get free stuff and legroom, but the drawback is that the phone conversations of your fellow passengers are more annoying. A lawyeress talked all the way from Temple Meads to Chippenham about what she was going to put to the people ahead of the meeting with the other people before they met with the people from the States.
Then, as soon as she finished, some suit started up about selling something or other. His conversation was sprinkled – peppered, if you like – with food references: there’s a real appetite for this out there; I don’t see any hunger for a career there; let’s put it out there and see if anyone bites. I don’t think he actually said anything about eating someone for breakfast, but he may as well have, you get the idea. Aha, I thought, this man is hungry and his subconscious is messing with his conversation. So when he finished I peeped round to see if he was availing himself of the free firstclass grub. And sure enough, he wasn’t. Oh well.
Anyway, the point of this post is that at Didcot Parkway I spotted some trainspotters. Nothing unusual about that per se, but something about the scene made me uneasy. Eventually I twigged what it was, and was so struck by it that I took this photo.
Can you see it? They were all standing at equidistant intervals along the platform, about twenty feet apart. Just enough, in other words, to be separate from each other, individuals rather than a group, and to spend the entire day spotting trains without the need to converse or acknowledge one another’s presence.
And this, presumably, is the really significant symptom of their peculiar mental illness. The actual trainspotting is a relatively minor one.