I seem to have spent the last fortnight on a train. It's weird. I mean, I haven't been on a train in years and then all of a sudden I ended up taking three back-to-back train trips. They were all to the West of Ireland, too.
Back in the day, I used to travel a lot with my granny who had a free pass. We used to lunch in the dining car (you could always get a seat there), quickly walking through the smoking sections, which were always clouded in a fog of heavy nicotine.
Now, you can book your seat online in advance (though, I have to say, on every journey there was always somebody already sitting in my pre-booked seat, and it was a bit like musical chairs trying to find another one). You can use your laptop, thanks to the free wifi, and best of all you don't have to go to a smelly smoke-filled carriage to get a drink, thanks to the smoking ban. A quarter of a bottle of white wine, however, is steeply priced at €5.99.
"Is it chilled?' I asked.
"Well, it's at room temperature, so ... "
"So not chilled. Have you ice?"
The young man shook his head.
No ice? Even Ryanair gives ice.
"Okay, I'll have red then."
Seriously, I haven't drunk room temperature white wine since I was a poor student drinking out of a plastic cup.
Then I had to go to the bathroom. An elderly man of about 80 was standing outside.
"There's someone in there," he said. 'But only one person now."
"There were two in there before her. They were there for about half an hour."
"Not a parent and a child, you understand," he frowned. 'Two grown-ups. A man and a woman!"
"Make of that what you will."
"Right. So, you mean, like the mile high club ... only on a train?"
The man nodded vigorously. I could tell he couldn't wait to get off the train and spread the news to all he knew. But at least he was nice and friendly.
Not all old men on trains are amiable. I recently was on a crowded train and a grandmother embarked at Tullamore with three children, all under the age of six. She had a kind face. My heart went out to her. Lord knows it's hard enough travelling with one child, never mind three. Especially when they're not your own.
The two little boys were quite noisy, but children generally tend to be a bit loud. Personally, I thought they were adorable. But one old man didn't. Before he got off at Heuston he shouted at the granny and shook his fist in her face. Like road rage, except it was train rage. The poor woman was in shock.
"Don't mind him," I said. 'He obviously has issues."
But the lady was clearly upset. 'I wouldn't mind," said she, "but the reason I'm bringing the kids to Dublin today is to visit their baby brother who's in hospital having open heart surgery." I told her she was doing wonderfully, and to forget about the angry man. But I hope he's reading this, and is thoroughly ashamed of himself.