This morning's commute was lovely. It was the last morning before the kiddies go back to school, therefore invading the Dart with their gym bags, hockey sticks, bleedin' Justin Beiber squawking from their mobiles, and inane chatter about "b*tches and hoes" (seriously, I once sat beside three boys, all of which looked about 9-years-old, talking about their "girlfriends" in such a manner. Do I sound 90? Yeah, but f**k it, it's how I feel).
This morning, you could take in all going on around you; rather than having your face shoved into someone's armpit (sometimes it can be a welcomed reprieve from the aforementioned chatter, especially if said pit emanates a hum that causes all your senses to shut down), you can appreciate someone else's conversation. For example, a month or so ago, I was sat in front of a guy, about 22, who was mumbling into his mobile: "Hi... Did I wake you? I did? Sorry, I just had to tell someone that I think Brian Eno is on the Dart... Brain Eno, he used to be in Roxy Music, they're playing the Picnic?... Anyway, he got on at Dun Laoghaire, so I think he was visiting Bono (Bono lives in Killiney, a good four stops before Dun Laoghaire)... Bono has a bad back, so I think he was paying him a visit... Yeah, it really could be him! He keeps catching me staring at him... He's got a briefcase. Do you think he'd mind if I went up to him? That'd be weird, wouldn't it..." Yep, almost as weird as waking your friend to tell them you think you've clocked Brian Eno on the Dart, and he's just had a sleep over at Bono's house to help him get over his hurty back...
I had to do everything within my power not to guffaw loudly, whip my head around, and start shouting "OI, ENO!" Thankfully, our celeb spotter departed the Dart at Sydney Parade (student), so I plopped myself into his perch and scoured the carriage. And there he was. Someone who looked remarkably like Brian Eno, albeit a younger version. Not that he was in full make up, feathers and unfortunate mullet; he dressed as Eno does now, shaved head and what not, but he looked about 38. The interesting thing is, he got off at Grand Canal Dock, where (the real) Windmill Lane recording studio resides, as well as The Factory rehearsal space. It could've been him. In fact, who cares whether it was or not, yer man's conversation was entertainment enough, a conversation I'd have missed had the carriage been filled with shrieking children.
It's not just the carriages that become a battle ground; the platform can be a perilous place, what with an abundance of school bags swinging about the joint. This morning, instead of being consumed with dodging lunch boxes, the entire platform were privy to a scene involving two honest t'jaysis sorts, and a couple of prepubescents leaning over the wall at Sandycove/Glasthule train station. As I walked down the ramp, past the kids, one roared to the fellahs below, "Can we not just walk to the taxi rank, Da?" Da looked approximately 25. He was poking the end of his roll up with his lace. "Nah, we're gettin' the train, jump over the wall." No movement. Da's mate, who was on crutches and appeared to have cerebral palsy, roared "Yer da said to jump over the wall, gerrovah the bleedin' wall now!" Silence. Next thing you know, yer man's legging it up the ramp, one crutch aloft, shaking violently. Da was busy administering the finishing touches to his rollie, but he managed to squeeze in a riotous belly laugh. Had this happened when the platform was riddled with school kids, no one would have noticed this delightful snapshot of Glasthule (or very possibly the 'Noggin). That and several people might have been injured.
So, for all of you about to embark on a commute home via some form of public transport, drink in the relative calmness, for next week it'll be bedlam. I can see it now - the "recently vacated seat etiquette" coming into play. Does it go to who's been standing longest in the vicinity, or who is physically closest? When I started using the train again after living in town for nigh a decade I was like a lamb to the slaughter - especially when the "scheduling changes" (i.e cutting the rush hour trains by a third) came in last November. On one occasion, I was elbowed out of the way by a middleaged lady who was halfway down the carriage. Another time, a suited and booted 40-year-old man, who'd got on the train a good few stops after me, sloped into a seat that had just opened up before us. That's what happens when you bend down to get your bag (I had taken it off to make more room for my fellow passengers, how silly of me). It gets weirder; a few months back, I'd been standing in the aisle for longer than normal, when another woman of a similar age came and stood beside me. A man, who (again) I'd been standing beside for an age, looked up, stood up and offered her his seat. "She must be pregnant", I thought. After spending the remainder of the journey surreptitiously peering at her abdomen, she put me out of my misery when she stood up at Pearse. Nope, flat as a board.
Something else commuters can look forward to come next week is being lightly touched up by perverts standing far closer than necessary. Oh and people yawning directly into your face despite having a hand free... although that happens when the train is near vacant. Are people too busy to cover their mouths now? Do they want to communicate what they had for breakfast, or in some unfortunate instances, dinner?
Do I now sound 95? Super.