Train de Nuit

Iseldom speak of the days when I spoke with a French accent and travelled everywhere on a vintage train. Friends and family considered the accent an affectation, and the mode of transport an unnecessary expense, but they didn’t have my vision, or a stalker called Trevor.

Trevor was peculiar in that he wasn’t really interested in me, he simply liked to stand behind me before sniffing my neck. Shame really, because he was an attractive man, just not that great at conversation. With or without a French accent.

I always enjoyed my excursions on the vintage train, I found it relaxing to be buffered by the rhythms of the railway, safe in the knowledge that Trevor was left far behind on some godawful commuter train just outside of Paddington. Or so I liked to think.

It was April 2001, I had taken the night train from Southend to Clacton and I remember it being unseasonably warm. I was struggling to sleep and had thrown off the complimentary candlewick bedspread; I tossed and turned and I recall being overly concerned that my deodorant was failing. I was never one to be easily spooked, but I could feel a presence outside my door. I knew it wasn’t Cyril the conductor because he had already seen my passport and he would now be otherwise engaged maintaining the Corby trouser press; playing with his banjo; or discussing the finer points of piston lubrication with the driver, Jim. I got out of my cot, threw open the cabin door, but there was nobody in the light flickered corridor.

I arrived in Clacton 10 hours later, exhausted from my trauma and slightly demented. I ran from Clacton railway station [notable for having two waiting rooms, refreshment facilities, and a payphone] towards the sea, I then headed in a south-westerly direction, which took me up Clacton High Street. Still feeling uneasy I returned to the sea where, to ease my torment, I jumped on a fishing boat to take few snapshots of a passing frigate. I realised my torment had risen to a new low when I flicked through my pictures only to be confronted by the image of Trevor staring back at me. I was aghast, yet thankfully I managed to maintain the appearance of expressionless calm. After changing into a black onesie from Dorothy Perkins I returned to Clacton railway station and stood in the middle of the concourse, and sure enough, within minutes I felt the hair from Trevor’s nostrils tickling the nape of my neck as he took a loud nosey snort.

And so I stopped speaking with a French accent and I stopped travelling everywhere on a vintage train. Friends and family were relieved. I saved money. And the last time I saw Trevor? He was doing something nasal related on Big Brother for Channel no. 5.

49 thoughts on “Train de Nuit

  1. 63mago

    And I always thought Luke was the engine driver.

    Trevor aside, what is, and will always be admirable is the Your effortless chic, even when you have to run to and from trains.

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Thank you, Mr Mags! Luke was too expensive and wanted to computerise everything, whereas Jim is a good, solid engineer.
      Amazing how I can make a onesie look like evening wear!
      Sx

      Reply
  2. dinahmow

    I was a teensy bit puzzled that the conductor had checked your passport…on a train from Sarfend t’ Clacton. You ‘avin’ a larf? But then…the journey took 10 hours so I knew you weren’t.
    Lovely to see these vignettes again, Scarlet! 😉

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Thank you, Dinah!
      It was all the talk at Mr Devine’s about remembering the past, and old blog posts, that got me hunting down adverts on Youtube. I very much enjoyed the journey!
      Sx

      Reply
      1. Inexplicable DeVice

        Speaking of the past, I have found (and have started to watch) French & Saunders, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie on Netflix. Just thought I’d mention it as we seem to have similar tastes.
        (I probably should have prefaced this with a LX/Mago-esque [unrelated: sorry])

    2. Scarlet Post author

      Oh I give up trying to predict where my replies are going to turn up…
      Mr Devine – Yes, I spotted French and Saunders on Netflix…. and I will definitely rewatch Fry and Laurie, possibly in 10 minutes time…. but after I’ve watched Victoria Wood at the health farm – genius.
      Have you ever watched Love Soup? Written by David Renwick and starring Tamsin Greig. It’s very good – especially the first series.
      Sx

      Reply
      1. Inexplicable DeVice

        No, I’ve not seen Love Soup, but I’d like to – Tamsin Greig can do no wrong in my eyes.

        It is extremely difficult not to watch the rest of any Victoria Wood show when one sees a snippet of it. I almost turned myself inside out trying to escape her exploits at Pinkneys!

      2. Scarlet Post author

        Yep…. I watched the full half hour and will probably watch more tomorrow!
        Tamsin Greig is one of my favourite actresses! Do you watch Episodes as well?
        Sx

      3. Inexplicable DeVice

        I watched the first season of Episodes ages ago (and possibly the second), but didn’t think there were any more until a few weeks ago when I discovered that it hadn’t been cancelled and ran for another three seasons!
        I don’t have time for all this TV 😦

      4. Scarlet Post author

        I’ve just been at Jon’s – he is paying homage to Dale Winton by showing the Comic Relief version of Uptown Downstairs. You’ve gotta see! Jennifer Saunders as Maggie Smith is genius!
        Sx

    1. Scarlet Post author

      Mr Lax – This is what train stations are for! Casual appraisals in stairwells – happy days. And of course the lady is correct, Trevor looks nothing like John Lennon.
      Sx

      Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Imagine, Mr Ducks, we could go together to the swankiest parties in town in matching onesies and not look out of place! Ignore the naysayers, they know nothing.
      Sx

      Reply
      1. Peter Wells aka Countingducks

        I agree entirely, Just to give you the inside track on my fashion sensibility, My bow-tie has miniature penguins sprinkled around on a blue background. A design which has often gained gasps of admiration or some other emotion from passing strangers. Other than that I would be honoured to add a touch of sophistication to your circle of friends !!

      2. Scarlet Post author

        Penguins would certainly be an upgrade from chickens and sheep. Also, I imagine you’d be wearing a fine pair of brogues, and not mud splattered wellies that are ubiquitous in this part of Devon.
        Sx

  3. eroswings

    The important thing is that your hair looked gorgeous no matter where your train travels took you. Did the train not have any window blinds or curtains? No wonder you couldn’t sleep with all that light glaring through your compartment window. Might I suggest a sleep mask and a nightcap the next time you can’t sleep on a train?

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Good tip, Mr Swings! I know it was a vintage train, but curtains are essential for a good night’s sleep. All that flickering, and whistling, and plunging through tunnels, no wonder I awoke feeling troubled.
      Actually, I do have rather good hair 🙂
      Sx

      Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Mr John – I believe i would have had more fun if I’d jumped on a tramp steamer…. I may have ended up somewhere more glamorous than Clacton… possibly Weston-super-Mare, or Blackpool.
      I have noted that the Urban Dictionary has a different interpretation of ‘tramp steamer’, I will bear/bare this in mind for the next time I write about boats.
      Sx

      Reply
  4. lisleman

    One of the more romantic adverts I’ve watched. It would harder to create this story with aircraft. Maybe while riding tube? People are forced to get up close and personal on the tube. Come to think of it first class travel should include a bottle of perfume/cologne. Those vintage trains didn’t have showers – right? The story has me wondering how the return trip went.
    You could have titled this Trevor the sniffer.

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      You are correct, Bill, there are no baths or showers on the vintage train! Each cabin has a washbasin, and the toilets are at each end of the carriage. Appalling. How can this possibly be luxury? Back in the days when I was rich, I travelled from Paris to London on the Orient Express and discovered I didn’t care much for lobster.
      Sx

      Reply
  5. Inexplicable DeVice

    Oh, Ms Scarlet! What a frightful ordeal. It was like a suspenseful horror film brought to life – except for the candlewick bedspread which should have been left for dead. I wonder if candlewick has more calories than a chocolate raisin…?
    Anyway, I’m glad I read about your vintage train excursion before watching the video. I was quite surprised to discover that Chanel didn’t acknowledge or thank you for their blatant rip-off of your ordeal. However, they did make Clacton look like quite a nice place to visit, which must have taken some doing…

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Damn it, Mr Devine…. I almost lost 30 minutes to Victoria Wood on the health farm… and I will probably go back and finish off watching it.
      Anyhow, yes, I was pleasantly surprised to see Audrey Tautou playing me in the film so I am not too miffed with Chanel, AND in another film Nicole Kidman gets to play me! So I am not going to complain.
      Sx

      Reply
      1. Inexplicable DeVice

        I must also return to the health farm (sorry, by the way). And to Hugh Laurie (seeing the younger him has reawakened my younger me crush)!

        I expect there is an enormously long list of gorgeous actors (is “actress” an old fashioned or politically incorrect term now? I’m not sure?) just dying to play you. The role of a lifetime!

      2. Scarlet Post author

        I still use the word ‘actress’… I will use it until someone tells me otherwise, and then I will use ‘Lady Actor’ instead and hack them off even more.
        I know… I might play myself if I can get Aidan Turner as the leading man though.
        Sx

  6. llcooljoe

    Didn’t Cyril get arrested for playing with his banjo? I’m sure I read somewhere that he blamed you for that after you made it clear you didn’t want to discuss piston lubrication with him or play on his banjo.

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Sweet Joey – Back in the day we were ALL getting arrested for playing on the banjo, probably because we were all piston lubricated.
      Sx

      Reply
  7. Exile on Pain Street

    I can’t believe I watched all 2:21 of that. Have I nothing better to do? It would’ve been better if the actors playing Trevor and Cyril had changed roles. A noxious old man nuzzling a tender, young neck. A handsome buck asking for a passport and never seen again.

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Awwwwww… Monsieur Pain!!! Did you not enjoy this little glimpse into my personal history???? No, no, no….. put the Cyril nuzzling image out of your head and whilst you’re about it get it out of my head as well. Goodness me. Have an onion, and stop this nonsense.
      Sx

      Reply
  8. batarde

    Egad, a stalker. How frightful for you. I trust that you have shaken Sniffing Trevor off by now? Perhaps you should follow Great Aunt Wilhelmina’s practice and arm yourself with a sturdy umbrella – she saw off an importunate bear with her brolly once, or so she said. Just a thought.

    Solicitously,
    B

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Thankfully Trevor is long gone, Mr Batarde!
      I once had a sturdy umbrella, I used it as defence against a flasher, and then, as the story goes with so many valiant umbrellas, I left it on the train.
      Sx

      Reply
  9. Mitzi

    Reminds me of Trades Hotel in Blackpool with men prowling the corridors at night, rattling the door handles, dribbling and masturbating. Unlike you I didn’t play hard to get I had my room door wedged open with a chock.

    Reply
  10. Scarlet Post author

    Mitzi – But you could have ended up with Cyril! I like the drama of a closed door – plus it was damn drafty on the vintage train… what with all the heroines wandering around in their nighties flinging the windows open and forgetting to close them again. I think that’s why I was given a complimentary candlewick bedspread.
    Sx

    Reply
  11. savannah49

    I remember my mother telling me I was too young to wear Chanel No.5 and then being too cool to wear it, and now I have allergies and I can’t wear it! I like your story better! xoxox

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Thank you, Savvy! To be fair I was never much taken with Chanel No.5….. then again my favourite perfume at the moment is Lady Million…. maybe my sense of smell has gone adrift… or maybe I am taking irony to another level!
      Sx

      Reply
  12. nick

    They seem to have caught the essence of your personality with uncanny accuracy – the casual nonchalance, the stylish elegance, the obsession with fish fingers. No hang on, that’s not quite right….

    Reply
  13. lululabonne

    I’ll check out Love Soup, will watch anything with TG in it (rewatching Green Wing for the umpteenth time). Meanwhile I admire anyone who can rock a onesie xxx

    Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Hello and welcome, Mistress Borghese!!!
      Oh the anticipation of dabbing some Chanel No.5 behind the ear, reclining in ones cot and waiting for the thrill of entering a tunnel. Nothing quite compares, does it?!
      Lovely to see you here.
      Sx

      Reply
    1. Scarlet Post author

      Mr Auty… The British weather doesn’t make for a fine romance, does it? Once we’ve got all our wet clothes off all we want to do is sit by the fire and drink cocoa. And umbrellas look more romantic than they actually are… one strong gust of wind and someone’s lost an eye, or something far worse.
      Sx

      Reply

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