Friday, 15 May 2015

I'm On the Train

Actually I'm not. But I was a couple of days ago, and I will be again tomorrow, and it made me a bit gloomy. Not all of it; I love train travel. But one aspect on this occasion troubled me. It's not something new; I think I've always been vaguely aware of it. Until the day before yesterday though I'd never focussed on it properly before.

And who knows, perhaps I'm making too much of it. Maybe I'd just got into a slightly pessimistic mood because I spent most of the journey reading Deception by Edward Lucas, which is about the largely unrecognised danger that Russia poses to Western countries. It is a very good book, but not exactly cheery.

Anyway, as the hours passed and the countryside of Europe rolled by the window, I began to realise that, extremely quickly, I was growing ridiculously territorial about the little space I occupied in the train carriage I'd chosen. After a mere couple of hours, I started to feel that this was my domain and people shouldn't think they could just march right in and spread themselves out, if I hadn't invited them.

Before I knew it, I was brimming with resentment. At each new station, I would see a fresh horde of passengers scrambling on, and I didn't feel welcoming. As they rumbled suitcases up and down the aisle or tramped through in backpacked troops, scouting for seats, I felt cross at their presumption. What gave them the right to come in here and take up my space? How dare they, these invading aliens? Why didn't they just rack off somewhere else - ideally, back to wherever they'd come from?

So much for tolerance. But let's hope I'm just a particularly unpleasant human being. If not, I'm worried. If other people experience the same kind of thing - if they also rapidly start to feel they have rights over train carriages or corners of cafes or cosy little back rooms in country pubs, places that they are only passing through themselves, places they don't really have any emotional investment in, then heaven help us when it comes to our feelings in our own homes, our own regions, our own districts when faced with the arrival of the homeless and the desperate, who these days are increasingly flooding across the world,

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