trains, travel & terminology

Many years ago I had a colleague who told me that she was concerned about her daughter’s English, as the family didn’t speak English at home. Without a second thought, I told her she should encourage the girl to read.

I didn’t think it mattered whether she was reading Jane Austen, Dickens, Woman’s Weekly, or simply the next Mills and Boone bodice ripper: my idea was that she’d learn grammar and assimilate new vocabulary from seeing language in context.
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let’s not talk about it

I’ve mentioned before that, despite the restrictions to normal life, I’ve been doing quite a lot of travelling on public transport recently. I’ve waited quietly at the station, keeping as far away as possible from other travellers and felt very much like Dick Turpin about to waylay a stagecoach or a highwayman about to hold up the mailtrain as I’ve pulled my mask over my face when the train approaches.

I don’t particularly like wearing a face mask, but I think it probably makes sense to do so, not just because it’s a legal requirement.
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train of thought

Trains were a major feature of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I’d actually been on a train before my first birthday, but I do know that I had already travelled from the south east of England all the way to the Highlands, a journey that, even today, would be likely to take the best part of a day.

Even when we returned to live in the south a few years later we didn’t own a car so my father commuted to London by train and underground each day, and any holiday we took tended to feature traditional black cabs and card games played in waiting rooms at railway junctions.
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something for the journey

I have always enjoyed travelling. Not necessarily because I want to get somewhere in particular, but for the simple joy of the journey: the “time between places” when, particularly if you travel alone and on public transport, you can duck out of life and be someone else entirely.

Chance encounters in the buffet car, casual conversations that crop up between complete strangers, momentary glimpses of other people’s lives, things seen from train windows – and, as in the photo above, sometimes even the trains themselves in their festive glad rags.
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transports of delight

The EWS logo on the side of a train the other night caught my eye: it seemed so eminently traditional that I felt it must belong to the era of nationalised railways and navy blue quilted anoraks.

Having looked it up online, though, I find the company is only twenty years old. I also find that what I think of as an anorak probably bears little resemblance to the original Greenlandish garment.
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