I noticed on this morning's commuter sardine can from Reading to Paddington that the winter coughs and sneezes have already begun.
At the time, I wondered why, considering most people (not me, I've been saving up for a gigantic stamp duty bill, no, please, don't feel too sorry for me) have had a nice summer holiday somewhere sunny. While I've been slaving away in a basement in Knightsbridge until the late hours, these same people have been sitting on the decking sipping wine and being generally relaxed during those few sunny evenings we've had this year.
Then I realised, the children have gone back to school, and it all became clear.
The little darlings have been and caught each others' bugs and are now distributing them liberally amongst their hard-working parents, who are now bringing them onto the train in the morning for us all to enjoy. I'm thinking of getting a Japanese-style face mask, though I would need earplugs too, as it's the sniffing that really gets to me. Perhaps I should make up some "I Hate First Great Western" tissues to hand out over the coming winter.
I have also realised that a couple of months of first-class upgrades have made me much more sensitive to noise on the train. Last night a drunken couple in the first class area were being so loud, I couldn't concentrate on my book. I didn't dare to challenge them, because one man who was unfortunate enough to sigh and glance over in their direction received a torrent of abuse that lasted all the way to Maidenhead. Which was annoying, as the man himself had got off at Slough.
And this morning, in the quiet carriage, a woman in the corridor spent the whole journey talking in a voice like a foghorn about the saga of dropping her child off at nursery school. I wouldn't mind if either of these incidents had involved conversations of interest, but both were so banal, I became filled with rage that they should be contaminating my brain with such rubbish, though of course I was much too polite to say anything (aren't we always?).
I have definitely become a low-tolerance commuter, which doesn't bode well for my return to the daytime hours this month, when my upgrade is no longer valid. I really think the earplugs might be the way forward, as they'll also block out the onboard announcements.
I know where the safety cards are. And I know where the quiet carriage is. I'm in it. Now SHUT THE HELL UP!!!
Yes, definitely a low-tolerance commuter.