Saturday, June 3, 2017
The Astonishing People You Meet On Trains
The train was crowded, but I had a nice seat right next to the window and 3 fellow passengers. These passengers were laughing. In fact, I thought they were the happiest passengers I'd yet seen on this trip, and couldn't help but laugh with them - even though I didn't know what they were laughing about. That kind of infectious joy just draws you in.
Interrupting this laughter, someone over the loudspeaker mentioned the Dining Car, and I didn't think I'd better go there because It sounded expensive. But then it occurred to me that if you are sitting in the car just next to the Dining Car, and someone invites you to go in, then perhaps you ought really to. "There are two seats," he said, "only two seats still available in the Dining Car, ladies and gentlemen. If you wish to dine in the car, please make your way to it now, and we will seat you." Well, I thought - why in the world not? and went.
Having seen Murder On The Orient Express about a hundred times, I envisioned white table cloths, napkins, multiple eating utensils, and real glass goblets. Surely posh people would be sitting in the Dining Car, and I suddenly wondered if I were under-dressed. But there was no time to change now, and so I made my way along as the announcer had instructed, hovering at the entrance.
A waist-coated waiter approached. "One for lunch, Madam?" he enquired with a slight bow.
"Oh, yes sir," I responded. "It's just me."
"Then come right this way." Apparently I had snagged one of those two remaining seats, lucky girl that I am.
I glanced around as I eased myself into the seat indicated. Murder On The Orient Express had got it right - white table cloths and napkins, multiple spoons, forks and knives and real glass goblets, all sitting there lined beautifully up for little old me. Splendid! I looked across the table at the two passengers sharing my table, and recognized instantly that I WAS UNDERDRESSED. It was like one of those nightmares where you've forgotten to put on your pants. But there was nothing for it but to smile and act as though I were dressed in a gown.
"Hello," said the woman in a cultured British voice.
"Hi," said the man. An American! Interesting. She was lovely, with straight dark hair and dark eyes, and wore a red shirt and black Chinese jacket that looked smashing on her. He must have thought so too, because whenever he looked at her, his eyes shone out with respect. It was really rather sweet.
He, of course, was handsome and young, but with prematurely graying hair. They went back to their discussion, their voices so low that I only heard bits and pieces, but he seemed to be saying that Health Care in the US was better than Health Care in the UK. She disagreed, genteelly, and then the conversation switched to the topic of Brexit. His very reasonable voice was reasoning with hers, over and over, only I simply could not divine exactly what it was that they were saying! But I am sure it was fascinating.
Our meals were ordered and brought, and at some point they realized that I, too, was an American. "Why are you in England?" they asked, so I told them about Rosamunde Pilcher and how every book she writes makes me want to be in Cornwall. They did not know about Rosamunde Pilcher, but by the time I had finished my description, they were writing it all down and wanting to go there too. It was lovely.
We parted good friends, and I went back to my happy little group, who soon asked me what I was doing in England. I gave an abbreviated version of what I'd told the posh couple in the Dining Car. Only these people knew all about Rosamunde Pilcher. In fact, they knew Rosamunde Pilcher! The lady had lived in Rosamunde Pilcher's house in Lelant, the house I take photos of every time I pass by it. And the real kicker is that just the day before, these two people had been to Buckingham Palace, and the Queen's Garden Party!
"Whaat?!" I nearly shrieked. "The Queen's Garden Party? I saw pictures of it in the newspaper, with Prince Philip in his top hat!"
Not everyone gets invited to Buckingham Palace, you know, and certainly hardly anyone ever gets to speak with the Queen. I wondered why he had been invited. "Well, let's just say I did something that the Queen appreciated, and so she invited me." Before I had a chance to learn anymore, they had gathered their belongings, and gotten off the train. I was suddenly alone in my part of the train.
It was strangely quiet, and I missed my astonishing companions. Such interesting people ride the trains these days, don't you think? How could you ever guess that the person sitting right next to you had lived in Rosamunde Pilcher's very own house, and had been to the Queen's Garden Party? Astonishing.
See you along the way!