Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Such interesting views from the train

This morning I received a couple of messages from Eustacia on my mobile telephone. She had an idle moment while she sat waiting for the up train, which seemed to be inexplicably delayed. The first message came in the form of a photograph she had taken (with her telephone, apparently! Amazing!) of the café outside our little railway station here in the Sussex countryside. On the large white fascia-board of this emporium appears in uncompromising orange letters (Mistral) the legend:

& coffee shop

Eustacia’s second communication, a text message this time, referring presumably to the sign in the photograph, said simply: ‘Two for the price of one! What a bargain!’

Two for the price of one? Oh! I suppose she means because it is both a café and a coffee shop. But surely….

I wonder if she is being sarcastic?

Eustacia has been travelling everywhere by train since she lost her driving license after that unfortunate business last year, which really seemed most unfair to me. Well, Ponty or whoever is going that way takes her out to the station of course, but apart from that she is quite independent.

She tells me (Eustacia has such a sense of fun) that the two best ways of fare-hopping are either to pick up used tickets dropped carelessly by other travelers and stow them about one’s person in pockets, purse and handbag, searching frantically among them for today’s ticket if the inspector comes round (thus giving the impression of being an honest soul who regularly purchases tickets), meanwhile exhibiting mounting feminine distress: or travelling with a companion in two separate carriages having bought one ticket between you, in the possession of the traveler nearest where you have observed the guard to be on boarding the train. The first person offers the ticket for inspection when asked to do so, then moves down the train, passing the inspector, to give the ticket to her accomplice. She says in both cases it is important to conduct oneself in a demure, even prim, fashion, and wear neat, nondescript clothing and not too much make-up. And look vague. I have no idea how Eustacia came across these details of criminal behaviour: perhaps she read about it in a novel.

Oh! She has just sent me some more photographs of the trees so beautiful in shades of crimson, russet and gold – and one of a pheasant standing on top of a farm gate. Sussex is truly the most beautiful place on God’s Earth, and one of the best ways to see it is from the train. I wonder what those two people in the photograph are doing in that dell under the trees there. Goodness me, how extraordinary! Well, I never! Some people have no sense of propriety!

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