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a blog by Chris Barrow

Coffee in Exeter and Scots on a train

My morning coffee in Exeter Services was served by Ivana. She achieved what I thought was the impossible. She served me a cappucino with chocolate sprinkle without making eye contact at any time during the transaction. Remarkable. I walked over to the manager and asked permission to give some direct feedback. He agreed that she made me feel the most unwelcome person in the place – and thanked me for my comments. Moving to later in the day, sometimes you just make the wrong decision. The right decision was to drive from Falmouth to Warrington (a steady 5.5 hours) and then catch the train to Edinburgh (3.5 hours to rest and work). The wrong decision was to buy a standard class return ticket. £212.00 first class, £64.00 standard class – I couldn’t resist the saving. I take my seat opposite a frail old lady who is on her way to Lancaster – she makes me quite welcome as I establish my “office”. Then the train stops at Preston – and we are invaded by over 20 Scots, all on their way home from a trip to Blackpool, complete with silly hats, puppet dalmations and cans full of cider. Their expectation was that seats would be reserved for them – but there are no seat reservations in our carriage. They are BIG, their baggage has nowhere to go – and neither do they. What happens next is a demonstration that Darwin was only right about the evolution of certain species. I hasten to add that I’m not having a go at the Scottish – I’m sure this behaviour would be played out elsewhere in the UK. The flip video captures the confusion on the face of my travelling companion and the mounting tension in the carriage. I switched off before it got worse – and moved to another carriage. First rule of martial arts – walk away. First rule of travelling life – buy first class. The following video lasts 1 minute 30 seconds and contains bad language and scenes of impending violence – its also quite funny after the event.

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