World Travel Market 2015 – A Rail Journey Vignette

I love the bleakness and romanticism of moorland areas.  I’m zooming through the New Forest on the way to World Travel Market 2015 and admittedly, I’ve only just looked up and out of the window. It’s taken me a full 10 minutes to find a seat I can settle into without twisting at an odd angle to avoid someone’s protruding elbow or some non-gentleman’s inconsiderate manspreading (that’s one of Collins Dictionary’s Words of 2015, don’tcha know!).

Quiet zone....not!

Then a further 5 minutes, with ticket in hand, waiting for the guard to actually get to me after calling ‘tickets please’ because of course, one person tried to buck the system and dodge the fare.

Then there’s an arrogant looking fellow in the next section up. His music is at that annoying level where you can easily make out an incessant, tinny ‘dunph dunph dunph’ and some whiny warble or other, without the advantage of hearing anything like a proper melody or lyric.  Not that we should be hearing that either, as this is officially a quiet zone.

He obviously loves his music, because he sways his head from side to side and pouts in appreciation of his playlist. As a fellow music lover I can’t condemn him for that alone, but I’m old-fashioned when it comes to manners, and his aren’t good. I glare a bit before it occurs to me this guy is giving off some seriously bad vibes, so I decide not to incur his wrath – by suddenly pretending that I was looking at the scenery beyond him.

A few minutes later, some man from further down the carriage approaches our musical malevolent and asks him to turn the volume down. Not surprisingly, the guy screws up his face and shakes his head.  Our would-be passenger hero repeats his request to no avail – our man with the earphones is totally unperturbed, although I can’t quite shake the feeling that he could turn at any moment and pull a knife out.  Failed hero walks off to report this to the guard, who eventually shows just as we’re leaving Southampton Central, with several new boarders scouting for the remaining seats.

Approaching WTM 2015

Approaching WTM 2015

This guard has an impossible task.  He asks our offender to lower the volume, just as 3 fellow WTM visitors take up residence in the other 3 seats by the table.  The response is still no, but I think he has turned the volume down – I can no longer hear it over the corporate chatter of the 3 WTM-ers.  The guard doesn’t pursue the matter because a) the WTM women say they can’t hear anything and b) the offender presents a convincing case about do-gooders on trains complaining for nothing – but it still irritates me.

Holding the moral high ground isn’t easy when you’re chicken.  I tried.  I caught the guard’s eye as he passed – out of the line of sight of the offender – and whispered ‘it WAS loud’. I’m not sure what I expected to achieve, really. The guard stopped and leaned over, as if to confirm what I’d said, and I guess at that point I totally white-feathered it – I hastily motioned him on as I shook my head.  I think he realised I wanted to avoid a direct confrontation, and he moved on. As I said, an impossible task for the guard.

The wider issue of a nanny state versus a selfish free-for-all is equally difficult to resolve.  Which is why I’m not going to try.  Instead, as we approach Winchester, I’ll return to my earlier appreciation of the New Forest landscape on this grey and drizzly November morning.  This is my first journey through the Forest on the tracks, and I can really appreciate the advantage of not having to concentrate on driving.  For once I was able to gaze properly at the ponies shrouded in hovering mist and the spectrum of autumnal reds and golds clinging to the trees.  Stunningly beautiful.

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So travelling to a trade meeting about travel brings me a new perspective on familiar surroundings whilst presenting me with a moral dilemma on modern manners – who knew?  I love this work!

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