NOTICE: Posting schedule is irregular. I hope to get back to a regular schedule as the day-job allows.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Notes from a train station... [Full link to blog for email clients.][FT:C44]

[From my recent travel...]

I am a people watcher. OK, I admit. I'm male, I watch the girls - but still I watch everybody. I sometimes try to guess their professions, where they come from, what they like or dislike.

Sometimes they make it easy for me.


I'm sitting in a lounge overlooking Paddington Station. It's nearly 8 PM and there are still businessfolk heading home. Perhaps they've stopped for a quick pint at the Mad Bishop and Bear.

The suits are easy to categorize - they work in an office. But what kind? I imagine the lawyers are straitlaced, their collars still buttoned and ties still tight even at this late hour. Ad agency executives will surely have loosened theirs by now.

There's a woman in a sensible suit - white blouse, navy jacket, pencil skirt, sensible flats, briefcase. Executive, possibly owns her own business.

Young lady in jeans, T-shirt, carrying a backpacker's pack that is almost taller than she is. Student? Tourist making their way across the hostels of Europe?

Ah, now there's a set of interests that advertises itself - young man in a T-shirt for a band. Name not recognizable to me, but the pattern is familiar. Not like the one I just saw in the airport last week: something on the lines of "New York I there." Yup, several words must be missing from that one. The three men appeared to be either "futbol" or rugby players. Accents were eastern European.


Speaking of exclamations, the greengrocer's apostrophe has nothing on "Yo! Sushi" Yo! advertises "Fresh! Japanese! Food!" Do you suppose the exclamation marks enhance the freshness?

Ah. American tourists. Mom, Dad, two kids. Son wearing a "Texas" sweatshirt, being reined in by mom. Sure, they could have recently toured the U.S. or have a relative in the Great State, but everything about them screams "American!" (see those exclamation points *are* useful). I can't really define it, but I am sure that people say the same when they look at me - especially when I brought *my* family with preteen sons to the U.K. in 1998.

Then again, maybe they just came from The Texas Embassy (restaurant and pub) in London. By the way, I have since learned that I am not really in London. I am in the City of Westminster. London is more an *honorary* name for the metropolitan area. It's historical.

Yup, here comes a party in the making - four women, three men - guys in casual wear, gals in evening dress. Wow, I didn't know they made that in all leather - must have been a small cow, since it's not all that *much* leather... Another in a short dress with shiny full length zipper - looking kind of wobbly on five-inch heels. The group went into Sainsbury's (grocery) and came out carrying bottles. Someone's planning on having a good time tonight.

Here comes a tour - it must be. About a dozen young boys with backbacks and small bags, four adults. Looks like the group that my son was in when he toured Rome-to-Athens with a school tour at age 12.

Oh my.


That was... amazing.

I *really* wouldn't have been sure I saw that if it wasn't confirmed by someone else saying "Did you see that?" I can't do this justice, but... inflatable man doll being towed through the station - a crowd of women, maybe 8 or 10 of them, all with those short wheeled bags that the airlines call "rollerboards" (from the "Roll-aboard" trade name). They are in their late 20's, early 30's in age, one of the ladies was wearing pink, fluffy bunny ears and some kind of sash. A-Hah! I get it. It's a hen party. The sash reads "bride-to-be." I subsequently saw another such group - all in pink T-shirts, pink shoes and boots, and pink cow-girl hats - again, one of them had "girls-on-tour" and "bride" on her T-shirt. Mr. Inflatable at least has some briefs on, but it's clear he has more to Tweet about than Weiner.

More business travelers - the serious ones in suit and tie - the casual businessmen in just a dress shirt, or jackets with no tie. There *is* a tie shop in the station, for those guys who either realize they *need* one, or maybe for those who spilled their noodles at lunch and need to look spiffy for the afternoon meeting.

AUUUUGGGHHH! My eyes! Too much Spandex! *Some* women just should *not* wear spandex - at least not without reining in those love handles.

I am rather surprised at the number of folks wearing headphones - not earbuds - headphones, full over-the-head-cup-the-ear headphones. Mostly guys in T-shirts, a few young women.

Backpacks, day packs, duffles, rollerboards, full-sized suitcases. This *is* the major rail gateway to Heathrow Airport, after all.

Now *here's* drama: A man being led out of the station - security in the yellow vest in front, two women in dark suits (plainclothes? Rail employees?) one on either side with a firm grip on his arm. Oh! He's handcuffed. As he disappears from view, two police come rushing down from an upper level and chase in the same direction.

Wow. You can *not* make this stuff up! What a boon to an aspiring writer.

Now that I've got the writing done (3 grant applications, two papers and a major project review all complete in 4 weeks! Woo hoo!) I have my eyes open and am shifting my brain into writing mode.

This is inspiring!

Until next time.

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