One of the many, many perks of my job is the opportunity to travel at unearthly hours of the day through and to some interesting places, and whilst doing so, sharing my personal space with a diverse collection of fellow travellers. Or as, I like to call it, getting the 6am train to London.
This prevents me with a bit of a challenge personally, as I can no longer justify an early night. This has something to do with wanting to eke out every second of the day, and partly because I’m quite keen on remaining married. Mrs Emu has firm views on bed-time. She requires at least 2 hours of child free time in the evening, whether it’s spent slumped in front of the TV or, as we like to still call it in our house, becoming elegantly wasted.
And of course, the problem with this is that the children, insist on getting bigger and staying up later. Already this year we have had to extend both the house and our fridge capability, and now it’s the sleeping habits. Emu#1, for example, is now on a curfew of 11pm, which, assuming he has any vague idea of time (you really need to meet him), means that by Mrs E’s rules we shouldn’t be hitting the hay till around 1am. All of which means that with a 5am start, the train journey is a grand opportunity to catch up on a few missed z’s.
And this has some splendid side-benefits. Starting my journey in Norwich, which is not particularly lively at that time of the morning*, means that I can pretty much guarantee a seat. As the train gets busier, as we rattle towards Diss, Ipswich, Stowmarket and Colchester, the seats fill up, by which time I’ve settled back and very possibly have a small stream of dribble coming out of the side of my mouth. And the nice thing is that I wake up in Liverpool Street, genuinely surprised at who I’m waking up next to. I like to think of it as being a bit like a student, but without the constant threats of herpes and poetic regrets.
Most of the time it’s a fairly ordinary awakening; usually another bloke in a suit, putting away his killer suduko for the morning**, but there have been two remarkable highpoints in the last few months:
Highpoint one was the tall, and frankly, rather attractive, woman in her twenties, who woke me up by tapping me on the shoulder and whispering very gently in my ear:
“It’s time for us to get off”
Well, I very never, as you might say.
And the second highpoint was the bloke I woke up to a few minutes before getting to Liverpool Street. Although the train was packed, I still appeared to have plenty of elbow room, and even allowed myself a little stretch. All was clear when he stood up to get his jacket – his right arm was missing.
So, in the rather unlikely event that either of these two are reading this, please feel free to sit next to me again – you were lovely to wake up to last time and I’m sure you’ll be again. As for me, I’m thinking of playing a little game next time. I’ll wake up, not open my eyes, yawn, say ‘Morning Darling’ really loudly, then turn to see who I’m next to. Why don’t you try doing the same? After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
*Norwich last ‘got lively’ in 1985, when NCFC got to the Milk Cup final. People still talk of it in hushed tones, as the day when the city rather let itself go.
**Why? Why? Why?