Friday, 17 June 2011

More Heavenly Details

'I'm on the train', as my fellow passengers keep bellowing, in a variety of languges. I really am - they have a clever mobile internet connection that you can pay for, although it doesn't actully work that brilliantly (and the paws do get in the way a bit at the best of times - which I can freely acknowledge now I've got my secret off my furry chest - let alone on the train, when all the jolting and swaying makes things even more tricky).

But being on the train has made me realise that trains are something else that will have to play a big role in the heaven I would like - in fact, I'm hoping that the bulk of goods-trucking in heaven (and for those who say goods-trucking shouldn't have a place in heaven, I say, 'How do you intend to eat? Is it vegetable gardening and cow milking that you envisualise for eternity? Or - surely not - were you planning to give up eating?', an activity very high up in my top ten of life's pleasures) will be done by freight train, instead of going via the highways, and trains will be so cheap and widespread, with all the little stations everywhere reopening, that people will hardly need cars at all.

There is so little stress to a good train journey, particularly if it is conducted by Renfe, the Spanish train company, or Deutsche Bahn. I hesitate to mention the French mob, since, judging by their staffing arrangements, I find it hard to believe they will survive much longer.:

(Yes, last week, all four of the people pictured were deemed necessary to check each ticket on one of their very fast trains.)

What little stress there is though comes from blaring overhead announcements. Therefore, in heaven, I would decree that there would be no electronic sound systems installed on any trains. Instead, the staff would have to do what they did in my childhood - walk through all the carriages, yelling out the lunch options and any other announcements that might come to mind (oddly enough, not many did come to mind in those days, when it involved a bit of effort.)

And, of course, the trains in heaven would all have proper dining cars - not snack bars that rely entirely on microwave ovens but places with tables and cutlery and damask table cloths and menus and waiters and a pleasant sense of occasion (but no flash - this would be seen as normal, rather than being an absurdly expensive and naff re-creation that is more about display of wealth than just living well). No noisy packets of anything (crisps et cetera) would be allowed anywhere within a hundred mile vicinity, although people who wanted to would be allowed to bring wrapped sandwiches to eat in their seats, provided the sandwiches were wrapped in nice, quiet waxed paper. There would be old-fashioned train food on offer in the dining car - fish in parsley sauce, roast lamb with vegetables, paprika chicken. The glasses would be crystal, the prices would be low.

Call me dreamy, but I am after all talking about heaven - and, perhaps, also about the past, which, it turns out, is not so much another country but another dimension: in my case, in many respects, the paradisical one.


  1. ooh please sign me up for your heaven too!!

    Cars and roads are rubbish. Rail is surely the pinnacle of civilisation - in your heaven perhaps there could also be a return to freight being moved by canal barge? Either way, lorries should be banned.

    In my heaven the beer is delivered daily by beautiful big shire horses. Not sure if this is something freudian I should be worried about

  2. The Italians really know how to provide a good train travel experience. The last time I was on a French train was the only time I encountered bad food. Even the airport food in France is gourmet but the trains..... *sadly shakes head*

  3. Talking of heaven, a friend of mine was driving across the Tamar bridge from Cornwall with her two small boys in the back. 'We're just entering Devon, boys' she called over her shoulder before overhearing eldest say to youngest:'This is where people go when they die, Olly'.

  4. Which reminds me of the story of a friend's two small boys. They wanted pet chickens very badly, so their mother got them one each. The older boy was so happy, he called his "Heaven" and the younger boy, picking up quickly on the naming system, called his... "Kevin."

  5. Not only would horses deliver the beer, but the trains would have shelves attached below the window to support the beer, as they often do in Japan.

  6. Totally yes to barges and shire horses, Worm.
    Nurse, you are right, the French should be ashamed. I was shocked the first time I encountered their new approach to rail food - and they're just as bad at motorway stopping places.
    Ameee - me too. Hope the interview went well; if not, they were clearly bastards anyway.
    Gaw - bizarre: where did the child get the idea from?
    Polly - and that chicken grew up to be Prime Minister of Australia (briefly)?
    Umbagollah - and yes to shelves, provided they are on the inside, so rainwater doesn't get into the beer.