I was once travelling back to Somerset from Manchester by train. Sitting opposite me was a smiley elderly lady, plump in a comfortable grandmotherly way; I don’t remember what she was wearing except, she had glasses and a pale blue feathery hat. Sitting beside me was a guy about the same age as me, in his thirties, slightly chubby, dark hair, tanned complexion and a pleasant, good-looking face.
We had nodded and smiled politely as we took our seats in Manchester, and had made the occasional comment about the weather as we raced through the evening countryside. All was going well until the train slowed and stopped and announcement came over the intercom to say we had experienced a technical problem.
After a little while we began to converse and before long we were chatting away, enjoying each other’s company. It was one of those odd moments when we all really hit it off, elderly lady, and two young people. I was a teacher, he was an opera singer (yes really) with the Welsh National Opera. We were stuck on the train for a couple of hours which just flew by and then we were on our way. I think the elderly lady got off in Birmingham and he got off to make a connection for a train to Wales… it was before the days of cell phones and the internet, there was no face book or emailing, so I never met either of them again. I did once see his name on a listing for the Welsh national Opera, but I don’t remember his name now, maybe he was Anthony, maybe he wasn’t.
I thought afterwards we would have made a great trio of amateur detectives in a drama…
In ‘Night Vision’ which I am editing at present, Beulah, meets a stranger in whom she is able to confide, and he with her. There is no desire by either of them to have any sort of relationship, not even to be friends, they just talk to each other about their separate problems.
“It was four years ago, I should be over it now,” he made a little noise, a gulp, an almost sob. “I shouldn’t be telling you all this, you don’t want to know this. You’re sad, I saw you crying, I shouldn’t be so selfish. Sorry.”
“Not selfish,” Beulah said. “Generous, I feel free to tell you, I don’t feel guilty talking about it.”
He said nothing; he had the gift of silence, not an empty silence, but a calming, embracing silence.
“Things are so strange between me and my husband now. Can I tell you something really personal?” And of course she could. “There’s no-one else I can talk to. I would tell my friend but he’s met my husband, last time they came face to face my husband broke his nose.”
“Broke his nose? Your husband broke his nose?” John was shocked. “Mind you I felt like breaking Kyle’s nose. I just got drunk and emotional, pathetic weeping, the sort of stuff that drove her away.”