Rhodri Marsden: To boot, or be booted. Neither is a great deal of fun

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

"I think you're in my seat, um… this is 26A. No, I'm definitely in the right carriage." Train travel is blighted by confrontational moments where one person questions another's ability to read their bloody ticket properly. Worse, these moments play out in front of captive audiences, quietly seated and squirming with discomfort at the social awkwardness – a bit like going to see a Mike Leigh play in the 1970s.

While no-one likes being displaced from their well-appointed window seat with a table and handy 240-volt socket for laptops and mobiles only, no one really likes doing the displacing, either. Successfully getting someone to shift their ass without causing bitterness or recrimination requires an easy charm that few possess.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a Welsh woman furiously berating her partner outside a train toilet because he was showing a reluctance to turf two people out of their seats. "If you were a real man, you'd sort this out," she hissed, knowing deep down that her own spittle-flecked temper made her spectacularly ill-suited to the task.

I sat in someone's seat the other day. Confused and disorientated by the exotic otherworldliness of a German express train, I mis-sat on the 0948 Berlin to Cologne service. At Hanover I was approached by a man who informed me politely but curtly that I was sitting in his seat and waited patiently for me to gather my belongings and shuffle off. I checked my ticket. He was right, and I was wrong. I meekly moved down the train and finally found my seat, but there was someone sitting in it. A kindly looking silver-haired gentleman of about 70, carving a wooden fish.

Hanover to Cologne is a long way. The train was full, and the chap now sitting in my seat was, by virtue of his age and the fact that he was halfway through a woodworking project, not someone who I felt that I could eject. If I'd tried doing the whole easy charm thing, in disjointed German, I'd probably have ended up accidentally buying a half-finished wooden fish. And as I didn't know the German for "Where can I find a Deutsche Bahn customer service representative?", I went and sat on my suitcase, which has no 240-volt socket for laptops and mobiles only, but at least I know it's mine.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
 

My shameful failure to live up to the spirit of Christmas

Howard Jacobson
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all