Commuting on the train to and from the city has not only given me a chance to perve into people’s backyards, it’s reminded me how fascinating people can be.
This evening on a crowded train [the one after the one that didn’t run] I found myself opposite a young chap of about 30 who was, from what I could hear [quite clearly], listening to the Beatles.
To my right was an older chap reeking of eau de ale who sat, for an hour, quite focused on a sudoku on what I think was his mobile phone.
[I’m not sure about new tech, so I won’t tell you about the 60+ man the other night and how many pads, phones, book readers and what nots he fiddled with because it’s irritating when anyone over the age of 8 can understand these gizmos.]
The 3rd person to join our little group of seats was a tall thin young woman of about 25. Her long black hair was pulled casually into a bun with a lovely silk flower worthy of Oak’s Day.
The weather being perfect today, she was wearing a thin cotton jumpsuit with split sides up the legs. She wore a nose ring, and braces on her teeth. Nails and make-up were just right.
[She did not have a tissue, though at one stage she rummaged in her bag furiously yet unsuccessfully before she started sniffing again.]
Completing the outfit was a pair of old fashioned head phones which put me in mind of Princess Leia from Star Wars [a movie I have never been able to sit through but the details of which are nonetheless burnt into my mind forever].
“Flora’s” phone rang at regular intervals [traditional ring-ring ring-tone], and she made arrangements to go out with her friends on “the boat”. She would walk down to the pier and meet them there once the train arrived at Frankston.
In between phone calls about boating [and about the deep gash on Tony’s knee], Flora finished reading The Help, while bopping along to the music on her phone thingy. Her taste in music was quite eclectic and strangely ‘old’; including Bob Dylan and The Doors.
Having finished The Help, she heaved up onto her knee what can only be described [for want of a better word] as a carpetbag [only bigger and more flasherer]. Rummaging in this bag again she found a new band for her hair, replacing the fashion on the field flower with a more mundane felt rose [presumably more appropriate to boating].
Inside the capacious carpetbag [which I had assumed would be full of make up and various unguents], was an assortment of jars and clangy things. From what I could see [hopefully without being too conspicuously curious] most of this stuff consisted of large economy sized containers of vitamin supplements, along with a well used aluminium drink bottle.
So, was she all set for a weekend away, with a change of clothes and something warm to wear? If not in the carpetbag, perhaps the necessaries were in the giant plastic shop bag also crammed with ‘stuff’.
As if to answer my question at the very moment I posed it to myself, out of the plastic bag came a slightly smaller paper bag of books from Robinson’s [the local equivalent of
]. I concluded she must be a local. Perhaps someone who lives atop Oliver’s Hill. Readings
Perhaps someone who gets a good income from whatever work she does, or gets a large allowance, or maybe even gets a very interesting credit card statement each month.
I find it difficult to leave the closing moments of a good book without savouring some of it for a while, and without replacing the atmosphere and events of one book so quickly with the words of another, more demanding novel.
Her copy of The Help, wrinkled and swollen as if it had been read in the bath – under the water – was replaced, briefly, by a new edition of a Salman Rushdie classic. It seemed she is one of those bookworms of the genus who don’t give a hoot about the condition of books so much as the content, as Flora immediately started flattening Rushdie’s pages, and wrapping them backwards around the spine.
No, Salman Rushdie did not suit the mood, so back it went into the plastic shop bag and out came a book about chakras.
Soon after this, the train pulled into Frankston Station and, as we alighted and made our way towards our vastly different adventures to come, she continued reading about chakras while bopping vigorously to the catchy sound of - wait for it - Johnny Cash’s rendition of the Ballad of Ira Hayes.
Worth each of the 510 cents the trip cost.