The Age of the Train

I can’t ever sleep on public transport. Ever. No matter how tired I am.

There is a good reason for this.

I’d been up all night in Brighton; it was my best mate’s hen night and we were celebrating hard. We didn’t bother getting hotel rooms; we were too young and too broke. The plan was simply to stay up all night until the trains started running early the next morning.

So, we bounced round the town, in and out of clubs, giddy with excitement and whatever the hell we were drinking until, exhausted, we fell onto the first London train of the day.

This was sometime in the 90s, and the train was the old-fashioned stock with small compartments. Each little carriage had benches that were the perfect size for sleepy revellers to crash on. There was barely anyone else on the train, so we grabbed a separate carriage each, stretched out and passed out.

….

Suddenly I was awake. Very awake. Something was wrong.

There was a man stood over me.

No, more than that. He was leaning in, right over me. Much closer than he had any right to be. There was a man, who was hovering over me while I was sleeping, and I was suddenly aware of how vulnerable I was.

Me: “What are you doing?”

There was an awkward pause.

We looked at each other.

I had the distinct impression he was trying to think of something convincing to say.

Him: “…I was thinking that you might want a foot rub?”

Me: “No. I really don’t.”

He left the carriage pretty sharpish.

That was a good 20 years ago. I’ve not slept a wink on public transport since.