Office on the Train

There was, until recently, a time when most passengers on National Rail fiercely resented intrusion on their privacy. However, being forced to eavesdrop on the calls made and received by fellow travellers has had its ripple effect in making us far more tolerant of the rat-race life that we all seem to lead these days. But how many of us really WANT to know … ’I’m behind schedule, so can you do the school run?’…

Do we really feel the urge to help the poor girl who can’t cope when …’Zac dumps me for Kelly, the split-ends blonde at the end of the table – I mean – how could he have it off with her scoffing chips… Ya, Ya, Ya … s’pose so, but cheesy chips as well …Ya, Ya, Ya… 

And what about …’Rachel, could you arrange a conference call for 6am local time?’…

If that isn’t enough, we might be privileged to hear the 60s Walls Ice Cream jingle on the phone belonging to the woman carrying her Jack Russell. Dog goes on floor where he finds the Wi-Fi cable that he proceeds to chew.

Now however, we’ve all joined this mobile high-speed office. The old saying, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em leaps to mind and so, nauseatingly as well as reluctantly, I have joined the party. Suffice to say I wouldn’t be writing this were it otherwise.

But at what expense? That precious ‘me time’ has all but dwindled into a thing of the past. I no longer gaze out of the window watching the Somerset levels slip by. Nor do I marvel at the White Horse at Westbury, let alone the sleepy house-boats on the Kennet Canal. I cannot spy on the occupants of contemporary housing with its nondescript architecture that merges into the cavity-walled semis only to be dwarfed by the majestic Edwardian properties with their high ceilings. By the time I approach Paddington, I might, if I’m really lucky, have spotted the occasional Georgian front door. 

At which point I join the throng pouring forth on to one of GWR’s spotless platforms. We spill out as if being tipped from a can of beans with people clad in track suit bottoms, jostlers carrying black rucksacks, men in suits (a rare sight these days) and women in puffas going to do serious shopping in Peter Jones. We’re all there – including me, Artistic Director of the Two Moors Festival, who has never owned ‘executive’ clothing in her life, and who turns up at smart meetings in jeans (expensive, mind you) and sporting a Gucci scarf bought on ebay.

And how much work has been achieved in this ‘boardroom’? Mega deals, booking a gourmet dinner, an essay, accessing bank statements; working out spread sheets, online shopping and much more. 

We all LOVE our communal workroom..

Just to confuse things, I have written this long hand…

Penny Adie

26th April

(Dedicated to my friend, Robin Wight)

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