the muse bemused

Yesterday, I said that my muse seems to have gone off on holiday.

Chiltern Railways advert
After reading this story on the BBC website this morning, I wonder if she’s travelling by train, and in particular if she’s travelling with Chiltern Railways. The headline reads

Chiltern Railways toilets become ‘inspiration stations’

and the story tells how the train toilets are being transformed with floor-to-ceiling vinyl images based on “attractions” along the Birmingham to London route. The only example cited is Compton Verney, an 18th Century country mansion in Warwickshire.

I went over to the Chiltern Railways website but couldn’t find any more about these “muse loos”. I did, however, find the advert I’ve used to illustrate this post.

People do some very odd things on trains – last time I travelled from Birmingham, in the space by the luggage rack where there was a power socket there was a girl sitting on the floor shaving her legs – and “schmooze” sounds so very sleazy and smarmy, like slow dancing in a smokey jazz dive.

In fact, Chambers dictionary defines it as:

schmooze verb (schmoozed, schmoozing) intrans (usually schmooze with someone) to gossip or chat in a friendly or intimate manner.

And even the, gives nothing worse than:

Making ingratiating small talk – talk that is business oriented, designed to both provide and solicit personal information but avoids overt pitching. Most often an artifact of “networking.” It is more art than science but can be learned.

If my muse is on the train, if she’s stuck in the loo, I hope the vinyl walls are inspirational, and if she’s schmoozing her way across the country, I hope she’s gathering some useful contacts for me, not just gossiping with her sisters.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

2 thoughts on “the muse bemused”

  1. I find it difficult to have my thoughts wandering in a visit to Mr.Crapper’s contraption. The cairotian vapours, ever so different each time I visit, make it difficult to think of beauty. Something like a landscape might prove very unproductive. I think the approach is wrong, they should be designed like some fast food chairs, optimized in lack of comfort so one does not spend more time than necessary, after all this is a precious resource as passenger trains no longer have windows that can be opened if necessary.
    I guess many people have lost the sense of purpose of things and places, the beds are places to do many things except sleep, stair handrails are bicycle tobogans, phones are portable confessionaries, etc. Going back to basics has been rewarding for me recently.


    1. I agree we no longer separate places and things as we did – work and home now overlap, this computer is a work tool, a cookery book, a newspaper, a telephone… – but I suspect the toilet/bathroom has long been considered a place to think; perhaps moreso in homes of large families where it might be the only room you could be guaranteed a little privacy.

      Even now, though, I find travel usually offers a chance to disconnect, and even on the short run between Birmingham and London there is probably as much inspiration to be found from looking out of the train window as from contemplating the décor of a stately home reproduced on vinyl. (Note, too, that inspiration isn’t only to be found in beauty.)


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