Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Railway children

Going down to Bucharest on one of the new cleaner-but-significantly-less-comfortable trains that they now run on the Brasov line, I was shaken out of my book-reading reverie by somebody shouting. Since the train had been a haven of tranquility until that point, cruising gently through the spectacular mountains of Predeal and Sinaia, it made everyone sit up and take notice. As I tuned in I realised the shouting was being done in English. I couldn't see the shouter but the content of his loud message implied that he had been in a queue for the toilet and someone had ignored him (perhaps he'd been in a queue of one) and nipped in before he could get to the door. Being British (as he was) he saw this lack of respect for the queue as somehow against all that was righteous and holy in this world, and so had launched into a tirade of invective shouted through the locked door. Being British (as he was) he obviously felt that this would be most comprehensible to his adversary conducted in English. I cringed as rhetorically questioned at the top of his longs whether or not the toilet goer was in fact stupid. My people. You can't take em anywhere.

On the way home from Bucharest on the Sunday, this time on a new and clean and comfortable train the likes of which I have never previously seen on CFR the Romanian railway, we found ourselves sitting opposite a nun (an orthodox nun, not that it matters). The ticket collector came round and asked for her ticket, and she patiently told him that she hadn't got one. He looked unsure of what to do for a moment, having not been trained for this eventuality, before shrugging powerlessly, turning to us and clipping the tickets which we, not being married to Christ, had actually bought and paid for. I wish he'd put handcuffs on her and led her off to the nick.


Michael Furey said...

Queues and the British, synonymous and unmistakable, as long as you do notice them. I think this is the problem. The Brit obviously didn't want to appear pushy or ill-mannered, he didn't want to stand out and get in the way too much - but, well, nobody else understands that, especially not when you're waiting to use the toilet.

What he needed to do was act like an Italian or German who, because of some retinal filter genetically inherited, can't actually see queues. They need to make themselves noticed before the offence is caused to them, then they won't appear so loud and rude afterwards.

Varangy said...

Fuckin' nuns. Stealing from the Romanian state. Gotta love it.