Friday, December 30, 2005

Return of the train

I love North by Northwest, and I especially love the train journey between New York and Chicago, when Eva Marie Saint explains to Cary Grant that she'll share her carriage with him (yes, a euphemism), though they've only just met.

Honeymooning last year, the Dr and I did the same journey in reverse, and paid out a shed-load for the "luxury" room. A proper, romantic trip, we thought. And maybe the Dr could foist filth on me, just like the bird in the film.

But trains are not what they were. Our compartment was tiny - I barely fitted in it - and the toilet was also the shower. Other passengers' rooms were, er, a chair with curtains either side. Service was lowsy and rude, and we slowly realised that the only people who travelled by train were freaks.

(That is, in the American sense of "people without cars", or unwilling to fly.)

The view out the window was quite good, though. Odd thing to be in the middle of a swamp, dip into a tunnel and then emerge in the midst of Manhattan.

Anyway. Virgin has been advertising "the return of the train", with Cary and Eva Marie CGId into one of their swanky new carriages. "Yes, bollocks," I'd thought.

Then yesterday, me and the Dr took one of these new trains up north (for visiting in-laws). There's not a lot of luggage room on them - like a plane, you can just fit a handbag and coat. So, what with all the Christmas/New Year travelling, people were laden down with baggage there wasn't room for and there were various strops and arguments going on while we waited to leave Euston.

One group were especially worried because their chum was running late, they couldn't reach him and still had hold of his ticket. The train was due to leave in a minute, and what were they going to do?

At which point a Virgin person appeared from nowhere. He offered to take the ticket to the customer services desk, where the chum could collect it and jump on the next train - all so easy and at no extra charge. Blimey, I thought. That's a bit good.

And then we set off, and the journey was very smooth, and guards came through every so often to make sure things were dandy, and took away litter and... well blimey, it's not what you expect, is it?

Didn't get any filth out of the mrs, though. Perhaps 'cos we'd not only just met.

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