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OMG you didn’t? – The Writer’s Way

In this exercise from The Writer’s Way, Sara Maitland asks us to record snippets of character insights.  Tiny things count.  For example:

  • Your reaction on meeting a person for the first time why did you have those reactions?
  • what was new or different about an old acquaintance you’ve met up with recently.
  • Observe someone doing an ordinary job of work
  • Write a brief life story for a person whose conversation you have overheard.
  • Write about your experience, thoughts and feelings about doing something unusual or different to normal.

The idea is to be alive to everything around you in your own mind so that when you write is can become more alive to the reader.  Hopefully, this is the first of many!  I have been inspired by a trip to London this weekend.

It is 9:45 am, I have arrived at Woking train station a little early for the 11:00 am arrival time at the coffee house on Waterloo station.  The fast train is due at 9:59 and according to the digital display unit and clock, it is going to be on time.  For the first occasion in years I have managed to leave home without something to occupy my mind.  It never ever sleeps, my mind – more on that later.


So I scan the newspaper stand for something to occupy my time on the half hour journey to London Waterloo and the half an hour wait at the coffee house, until my four school friends arrive from their various locations around the British Isles. 


As a rule I don’t read papers, I try to keep up with current affairs via the internet, radio and television as these media are less personally intrusive.  I like to make up my own mind.  This has been the case since I studied The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum during A’ Level German some 32 years ago.  


So I pick up and pay £1.60 for the Independent, hoping that it will be indeed that.  Like I say, I don’t read papers so I don’t really know.  I roll it up and stick it under my arm whilst I go wait for the train to arrive on platform 2.  It does and I curse silently as I see the carriages pass almost completely full; standing room only.  The train comes to a halt and I board, stay like the others in the standing room only lobby.  Then I notice the four lads, obviously connected by the tins of Fosters that they were drinking, taking up six seats.  The two spare being the middle of six they were occupying.  Now, I would hate you to think this is something I would normally do … but I have been challenged!


As the train settles down from its jerky start, I amble from my standing position to the arm of the one nearest to me.  Fixing a brief glance at his two friends opposite and offering one of my ‘most engaging smiles’.  I tap the nearest on the shoulder and ask, “Budge over will you?”


And he does!  And so I sit!  The independent daren’t uncurl itself at this stage as all eyes in the carriage are on me.  MOI!  I guess the lad opposite decides he could have some fun and offers me a beer.


I can’t say I am not tempted.  But the time is not right and after refusing his generous offer with a blush I ask.  “Where are you off to, or are you on the way home after a night on the town?”  It turns out that they are Pompey fans on their way to see their team play West Ham. 


I quickly deduce that it probably isn’t wise my mentioning the family attention to West Ham during Bobby Moore’s days.  But then they probably wouldn’t remember Bobby or Jeff Hurst or Terry Brooking that were playing in the short period of time that I was vaguely interested in football.  So instead I mention the departure of Harry Rednap and my vague connection to Bournemouth football club and the Cherries.


“Are you off to the match then too”.  I am asked, to which I laugh, reply that I have no interest and that I am off for a school girlie reunion.  At that point I have a text.  It is from my friend Kathy who has caught the same train from the Isle of Wight.  She suggests that she had seen me at the station and that she was at the front of the train.  I asked my four new buddies how I should reply.  Then text her back saying.  “Yep I am on this train but am sat with four good looking young men and I am not moving. LOL Lxx”  Now anyone who knows me will know that this is a really long reply for me and probably took about ten minutes to process.


In the meantime my new buddies and I are gauging the prettiness of my lonely friend and they vote she should come and join us.  Sadly by this time it is only five minutes before we are due to arrive at Waterloo. The moment is passed.  I alight with everyone else as soon as the train is stopped.  And pause every minute or so to scan the platform for Kathy.  I keep catching the eyes of the four I was sat with.  Or perhaps they are catching mine? 


And there she is I speed up; give her a big hug and turn to introduce her to my partially merry football fans.  “See you on the train on the way back”. One quips.  And then they are gone.


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