It is early cold morning of Wednesday 31 March 1999, it is raining and I am standing outside platform 2 of Gillingham station waiting for my 06:35hrs train and it is already late. I have decided to walk down the platform with my trusted umbrella so I can board on one of the rear carriages of the train.At the front of the platform where the stairs are, I see so many people standing in two rows on the platform, some wearing business suits, uniforms and casual wear. These people are not so friendly, they just watch and stare at people as they walk down the platform and they don’t say good morning or whatever, even though they know that you are a regular commuter.It is not like the old days of the 1950’s based on those old British movies where each passenger wearing a dark business suit with a bowler hat and carrying an umbrella with a black briefcase with their initials carved on their case. They all had an allocated seat number and they all greeted each other in the mornings and it was so obvious that someone was missing because they made a point to talk to each other every morning.
There was always a tea lady with a trolley offering tea and biscuits for a penny and sharing with them the local gossip.As I walked further down the platform, I noticed that there are some small groups people talking among themselves. I was surprise to see some school children in t...
heir uniforms at this time through the window of the waiting room talking to each other while they wait for their train. I have to assume that their school is in London or Bromley South.
I see a tall white guy in his mid 30’s in a grey business suit with a black overcoat and a red scarf above a monitor listing the train timetable for London and Ramsgate. Then suddenly the man let out a big yawn showing his inner parts of his mouth. He made no effort to conceal his mouth with his hands. He was yawning like a lion in the Jungle.
I carried on walking down the platform with a shocked face and position myself outside the signed marked carriage twelve, where I thought the doorway of the carriage would be. This way, I would have a better chance in getting a seat on the train. I am hoping that I will catch one of the modern trains because they have a central heating system. If it is the slam doors train, I know the train carriages are going to be cold because all the heat will go when the doors opened wide for passengers to board off and on the train.As I stand in the cold and rain is pouring and my trusted ten year old umbrella is taking the full impact of the rain, I see a white woman in her 40’s in a light tan overcoat with a sky blue umbrella on my left.
She starts letting out a big yawn, shrugging her shoulders and without covering her mouth and not
caring who is watching her yawn.I say to myself what is going on. Did I miss an UN Convention on yawning and those against covering their mouths with their hands won the vote? When did this bad behaviour started?Three weeks ago, I came back to the UK after spending ten years working in the Gulf, two years in Kuwait, two years in Bahrain, a year in Dubai and five years in Saudi Arabia. Just brought myself a medium size three bedroom house cash in Gillingham who I share with my Mother. Not bad for a single guy at the age of 35 years old, and with forty thousand pounds in the bank earning high interest (I will use the interest to pay for my holidays abroad) and it is my second week at my new ï¿½50,000 a year job in London Victoria after tax.06:35hrs is much too early for a trolley service of hot and cold snacks on the train.
It tends to start with the 08:40hrs train from Gillingham. I have never seen it on an earlier train and the last train I have seen with a trolley service is 19:00hrs from Victoria. I could murder a cup of milky coffee with no sugar and a sticky bun. I keep on promising myself that I will go on a diet and cut back on eating and drinking between meals but I never do. It would be ideal if the trolley service could start with the first train at 05:30hrs from Ramsgate where people like myself would find a cup of coffee with a bun an ideal start to the working day.
As the raindrops tap the top of my umbrella, I see that a lot of people are coming to where I am standing maybe thinking the same thing as myself, coming to the rear of the platform to improve their chances for a seat on the train. On the loud speaker, the announcer says that 06:35hrs train to London Victoria will be twenty minutes late because the train was late on its onward journey. I was never sure what they meant by that saying.The train finally comes round the bend and slowly drives through platform 2 of Gillingham Station. The train is a slam door one with poor seats and cold carriages.
I decided to sit in first class because I have a better chance in getting a seat. As I opened the door to the first class carriage, I see a white guy with grey hair in a blue business suit reading the FT, he was sitting on the rear side and his seat was facing the rear of the train. We did not say good morning to each other, however, I noticed the strange look he gave me as if he was judging me with his brown eyes in a way to say that I don’t have a first class ticket and I should not be sitting there. Anyway, I sat down on the seat near the door facing the front of the train and ignoring his strange look leaving the grey hair man to carried on
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