I was coming home and so grateful to have such good friends, to have been treated to a weekend away in London. With careful planning and just one change of train I was able to stay later; leave from Waterloo, change in Taunton and be home for teatime.
I sat back on the train acknowledged my fellow passenger, who was going all the way to journeys end, returning to university and started to do the crossword in the newspaper.
At the first stop, a number of passengers got on. A few of them came into the carriage where I was seated. The first 2 sat down with no fuss and the minimum of apology to people who had to stand to let them sit or those they reached above to stow luggage.
The third was a portly lady of middle age. She wore an outfit which contained within it all the textures found in Chelsea girl and all the colours of the rainbow. On her feet, she had Arabian style slippers that curled up at the end and coming to a tip carrying a bell on each foot. She stamped along as I imagined an angry hippo might, with every footfall ringing out like a death toll for “Tinkerbell” as she got every nearer.
At arriving to be parallel with where I was sitting it all became too much for her. She started to go off into some sort of panic-meltdown about having to be seated at a table and not being able to find her seat. The other passengers with true Englishness ignored her. I got up and offered to look at her ticket. She thrust it into my hand and from the number, I realised she was sitting behind me and not at a seat with a table. I indicated the seat to her. The incumbent of the inner seat next to the window was, unfortunately, unable to kill me with the death stare he gave as he looked up; though I did feel a little withered by it. I returned to my seat.
She took a call on her mobile phone confirming she was getting off at Newton Abbot. Her friend with whom she spoke needed the mobile device. The female passenger behind me did not. I was relieved the call was of short duration as my eardrums were at their limit.
She started to tell the passengers either side and any who met her stare she had booked a seat at a table. I heard her go on to say she wanted to watch a DVD.
I could hear the sound of leads being connected and a disc inserted into a player. I eased myself back into my seat and picked up the newspaper to once more immerse myself in a puzzle beyond my ability.
At glancing behind me just to be certain, I saw she was inserting her earpiece. Then it started. The DVD player still played an awful soundtrack that was loud enough for those of us nearby to hear indistinctly, but enough to know it was an abomination. I considered the title must be “Death of a musical and a career”, as surely no one with any hope of ever working again would be involved with such a thing.
Worse, she, had seen it before. She knew the words or at least some of them, mostly the end of sentences to choruses from the big songs in the show. The scratching screeching irritating sound of the DVD player would suddenly be drowned out by the loud monotone howling of “Love”, “Like a Dove”, “Until the very end!” Oh please let it be soon.
The conductor came along. When he checked my ticket I asked how much it would be to upgrade to first class. I could hear disgruntled muttering from my fellow passengers. I paid the amount requested of me (£15).
The conductor went to the passenger behind and told her she had been upgraded and would get a seat with a table in first class.
He duly escorted her away.
The sighs of relief and change of atmosphere were both audible and palpable. A man from somewhere behind got up and on coming past on his way to the refreshment car or the loo, left a £2 coin on the table in front of me. This started a bit of flow of money and I had quickly recouped most of the expense of her upgrade. I am sure in first-class passengers would have been too polite to comment and have suffered in silence.
At Taunton I alighted.
There were a number of other people waiting for the connecting train. I would guess at around 18-20 of them. I cast an eye around for any male totty. My gaze may have lingered a milli-second to long as through the crowd a very handsome young man of about 6’2” made his way past others and over to me.
He looked at the train opposite and commented a leak from it seemed to be like a long urination (though not in such eloquent language). I thought OMG, another one. I must have a label on the forehead that reads “Nutter friendly”, for now, I was engaged in conversation with a man I could best describe as “The Somerset Fruit Loop!” The only saving grace being he was gentle on the eye and caused the right stirring in the groin.
In the next 40 minutes, there were 3 announcements informing passengers of a further delay making for the arrival of the connecting train, later and later.
Had I made a mistake? I never got his name but he was 24, coming home from a festival, where he informed me he had been a steward as he was SIA registered. He was tactile in conversation and offered to show me restraint holds. He certainly seemed to be giving me a lot of attention.
Perhaps he was OK after all. I was getting mixed messages. Was he flirting with me or wired up wrong? Perhaps he was wired in the chemical sense. Maybe he had tried something he had confiscated at the festival.
The train arrived and I climbed aboard. My new best friend got on with me. There was nowhere to go. To get to my seat would have taken longer than the remaining journey so I resigned to stay between carriages with some others.
At this juncture, I think I was mistaken by a woman across from me as being the carer or support worker of the fellow who got on with me. He was leaning on me and standing intimately close. He was striking up a conversation with people who were trying to be polite but doing their best to end the exchange. Then he turned to me and said: “Are we there yet?” That left no doubt in anyone’s mind he was my responsibility. Worse I already knew we were getting off at the same stop.
At Tiverton Parkway we got off and walked over the footbridge together. I am not sure if he was uncomfortable or making a final play for me as he was rearranging himself in the trouser department and seemed to be wrangling with a python in his pants. I elected safety and made my farewells. He started to walk along the long lane to the connecting road.
In the car park, I breathed a sigh of relief. As a younger man I would have taken the risk, played the odds and provided a blowjob or at the very least a Hand-Shandy. But for today it was safety first.
I started my car and drove along the lane. There he was looking back at me and standing in the middle of the road. Should I stop or swerve to avoid him? I’ll let you decide what action I took given a second chance.
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