Sunday 18 November 2012

Week 63- Daily Mail readers, massive dogs and smiling at strangers

I used to love travelling on the train.

Get a window seat and a Boots meal deal. Maybe a miniature bottle of Chardonnay from the trolley if it was a special occasion. Flick through Grazia, skimming over the more heavy articles, then read Chat cover to cover.

It was a good opportunity to catch up on a snooze or have a text off with mates I haven’t spoken to for yonks.
Just as the lie in is a thing of the past. So, it turns out, is the relaxing train journey.
Nancy and I were taking a solo trip up north to see my folks. This is the first time we’ve travelled any distance since she’s become mobile.
And it has to be up with an afternoon of non-stop spin classes on the knackering scale.
The way up was OK.
We were in a virtually empty carriage, except for a middle aged Daily Mail reading, McEwans drinking man, who chose to sit right behind us, and tut loudly at Nancy every time she tried to engage him in peek a boo over the top of the seat. I kept wondering why if you hated children so much, you’d decide to sit so close instead of choosing one of the other two hundred empty seats?
But Nancy isn’t happy with just looking out of the window like she used to last time we went any distance on the train. Instead she wants to walk up and down the aisle.
For about four hours.

But after three days of an average of 5 hours sleep a night at my mum’s, due to Nancy waking herself coughing, and only settling if she was in bed with me, wedged right into my armpit, I wasn’t really looking forward to the two trains/ tube/ bus combo for six hours to get back to Brighton.
I’d also done myself a mischief on the Friday by taking full advantage of a babysitting opportunity, downing a bottle of wine with an old friend and miming to Rage Against the Machine until gone midnight. Ace fun at the time, but the recovery period was still in operation two days later.  
The first train was like a childcare dream, overall. With a party of trainee nursery nurses sat around us, and a woman with a bloody big child loving dog - I felt like the responsibility was kind of shared between about ten adults. Nancy cruised up and down the train, smiling at strangers and gripping their knees for support. Which was met with mixed reactions.
But by the second train, Nancy had rightly had enough. I’d totally pushed my luck with her by stopping off to meet a friend for a coffee in Kings Cross.
You could see the look on the faces of the other passengers when she started to grumble. But seriously, what do people want me to do? She’s one. She’s poorly, tired, and to be honest, I’d probably kick off if I was strapped in virtually horizontal to a chair when everyone round me looked like they were having a much better time.
I’d used all my tricks up too early. She’d had two bottles of milk, we’d sang all the songs I could think off, much to the absolute disapproval of the gang of 15 year olds who were sat near us, and as a desperate plea, taken her shoes and socks off as a treat, even though it was absolutely freezing.
A little girl came down the train to show Nancy her equestrian book, rosette and catalogue of show jumps, which Nancy enthusiastically ripped.
And when the girl started to cry, Nancy went nuclear.
The 15 year olds whispered loudly about ‘keeping the fucking noise down,’ and the equestrian’s mother disapprovingly hugged her crying daughter.
And I decided then that there is no good way to travel with a one year old.
Unless you’ve got back up.
There’s obviously no guarantee of a party of childcare workers and a massive dog on every journey, so next time we either take eight pints of full fat milk.
Or wait for people to visit us.