Friday, 11 September 2009

The Not So Quiet Zone

I travelled to work today in the quiet carriage, or the ‘Quiet Zone’ as South West Trains calls it, a la The Crystal Maze.

For all you non-commuters, the Quiet Zone...

(I am about to insult your intelligence – it’s obvious what the Quiet Zone is, but anyway) the one carriage in the train where you can (in theory) escape grown adults who are incapable of sitting quietly for 20 minutes. You know, like a small child or a dog.

Sadly sitting in the Quiet Zone does not always work. Because in addition to being annoying, these people are also extremely stupid, and will often wander mindlessly into the Quiet Zone whereupon they will proceed to be anything but quiet.

So, have you guessed what happened today yet?

I think I’ve dropped enough hints.

I was sitting in the Quiet Zone, using one of the only periods of peace and quiet I get during my day, to read.

Two men got on at the stop after mine. They sat down opposite me, talking loudly. About nothing. At length.

The usual thing then started to happen.

I’d start to read a sentence, realise I hadn’t taken it in as I couldn’t concentrate, and then have to go back to the beginning of the sentence and begin again.

And repeat, ad infinitum.

I’d been whizzing through my book until then. But when they got on, I stalled.

After a few minutes I had worked up the courage to ask them to move, but at this point one of them got a paper out.

This came as a great relief.

I’ve seen this a number of times. Men who are forced to take the same train to work usually have a bit of a perfunctory chat before sticking their head in the paper so as to politely ignore each other for the rest of the journey.

It didn’t pan out.

One of the men decided to read the paper to the other man, offering a commentary after each story.

The paper in question was The Daily Star.

Imagine the stories.

And then imagine the commentary.

At this point I felt I had to say something. But then the train stopped and one of them got off.

This came as a great relief.

Without his friend to talk to, this man would surely shut up.

It didn’t pan out.

The man didn’t seem to need anyone specific to talk to, and carried on reading the paper out loud and offering commentary.

The person who sat down opposite him at the next stop was furnished, apropos of nothing, with the useless information that Paul Daniels had made a statement about Derren Brown’s lottery trick.

Thankfully the man stopped reading the paper out loud after a while.

And chose to hum to himself instead.


I wouldn’t usually blog about something as mundane as my commute, but I felt this freakish behaviour needed to be documented for posterity.

Moving on. My last blog on the subject of writer’s block (do you see what I did there?) which absurdly garnered more comments than other blogs where I actually wrote something, did actually have some pertinence.

I am currently trying to work out my set for the Godless shows in December.

I used up all my (half decent) Christmas material last year, and am currently coming up blank on what to say this time.

That’s not strictly true actually.

An idea keeps popping into my head, and I keep dismissing it.

The idea is, to do a deliberately bad ventriloquist act - with the Baby Jesus as my puppet.

We shall see.

Whilst we’re on the subject, I recently stumbled across this link to my Little Atoms interview at the Godless Shows in 2008. I’m 19 or so minutes in.

Oh and I’ve done some more Amazon reviews.


Catie Wilkins said...

Ha ha! I hate those commuters. I had one in a quiet coach like that once. I wrote a blog about it actually but am not doing a link here as that might (a) look like self promotion, and (b) might take a while to find as I can't remember exactly when it was, so might be some effort. Anyway. Lovely blog. xx

Christina Martin said...

Ah yes, I read your Quiet Zone blog. I remember laughing at the bit where you wondered in what way smoking - one of the pictures on the Quiet Zone sign - was loud! x