It never rains, it pours

Of all the strange idioms we have in the English language, this one is definitely at the very strange end of the spectrum. For those not native speakers, or just not familiar with the term, it really means when something bad happens, it’s not just bad, it’s really, really bad!

In some ways it is actually very strange that we use this expression in the UK as in meteorological terms, we are quite the opposite in the British Isles and in reality we are far more likely to have damp, drizzle, persistent rain or the odd cloudburst rather than continuous days of monsoon like pouring rain.

In the UK we actually seem to specialise in non descript weather and this is to our disadvantage. Go to a country like Canada where consistently the winter temperatures are acutely sub zero night and day and you will find it’s all taken in their stride.

Underground heated shopping malls, spectacularly efficient and monster sized snow clearing equipment and as a standard for most cars the capability to plug in ‘ car style electric blankets’ to protect the engines and remote control devices that allow the car to be started from inside your home to let it warm up (but keep the doors locked).

And it is not just winter weather. When we have a hotter than average summer, most of our public buildings and almost all homes will not have any form of air conditioning unlike their Mediterranean or North American counterparts. Result…during a heatwave people struggle to sleep or be productive in the workplace.

And if you think it’s just the weather, we struggle with seasonal variations of the environment. The UK rail system is notorious for problems with ‘leaves on the line’…somehow we are almost unique in the world that our trains struggle with mashed up damp leaves!

We are by nature a stoic nation and when the current generation grumble about these challenges, the parental generation is often quick to retort with…it was worse in my day!

Probably very true, but in the same way that we eradicated the black death and other historical ailments, our present day objective must be to facilitate our managing the challenges thrown at us rather than just grudgingly accepting them.

I think the fact that we are no longer wandering the earth wearing loin cloths and carrying a club demonstrates our success to date!

Share if you dare

I travel fairly regularly by long distance train in the UK.

Previously I have always booked the ‘quiet coach’ where theoretically people are not supposed to have mobile phone conversations or talk loudly to each other.

Unfortunately the compliance levels are not so good and there are two camps. The first is very, very loud business people who decide to phone their PA, or colleagues or family and are the most indignant when it is pointed out to them (by me!) that they are in the quiet coach. Often they will remark, still very loudly to their caller …’I seem to be in the quiet coach ‘ as though

some alien Tele transportation process had unwillingly deposited them there, very much against their will. And of course that these rules are surely for other people, not important people such as them.

The other offenders are middle aged ladies on train journeys to visit family and I am far more forgiving of them as despite all the signage, they might not be familiar with the process.

So I grit my teeth as their call starts..”is that you dear?…Can you hear me?…I am on the train?…Yes it’s on time and I’ll see you at Kings Cross Station…” So conversation over I think? No chance…..they carry on “oh, I think I am in the quiet coach (Yes…you damm well ARE!!)…so I can’t talk for long” . There then ensues a 20 minute conversation covering all family medical, romantic and miscellaneous issues…probably negating the purpose of the visit at all!

Quite why they think the quiet coach is like the express lane at the supermarket as long as you have 10 conversation items or less!, you can use it.

So I have given up on the quiet coach..but I have decided what is now needed is a non-chatting coach. Not so much that others having conversations, conversations on the phone or face to face with consenting adults is an issue, it’s fine but don’t forget Abigail *, it’s people talking uninvited to me who are the problem! [ *Abigail was a fellow passenger on a train some weeks ago who had such an impact she featured in a blog post just dedicated to her.]

There is a time for sharing your work story, challenges or quest for information- but it’s not on my train. On a train journey earlier this month week an IT guru used all three hours of the journey and barely drew breath talking techno speak to me that would have put Bill Gates in the corner.

Barely a week later I then have a match-making mother sizing me up as a partner for her daughter…despite all the references I made to my wife, children, general contentment with my lot…she was undetered. On reflection perhaps I should have made it very clear I was not from a Polygamous sect… and able to add a another wife to my portfolio in case that was what she was holding out for.

And then, only two days later, the icing on the cake from another woman of a similar age….an interrogation…..although she told me she was a retired teacher from Devon…I am convinced she is ex KGB. She was relentless in her task…the more monosylabic my answers the more questions kept coming. Where do you live?, where have you been?, where did you stay?, are you married?, are you in a polygamous sect? (actually no, she didn’t ask that), when will you get home?, how did you get to the station?…no stone was left unturned, no aspect of my life was not investigated!

So come on train companies of the UK..non chatting coaches please. It will be called the Ask me to Share if you Dare coach!

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