Commuting

Following this great post from Katie Piatt on commuting which illustrates the strangeness of seeing the same people everyday but ignoring them (amongst other things) I commented there was another side – the people who seem to have formed a clique. This passage from J.B. Priestly’s The Good Companions shows what a commute in 1929 may have been like and how some elements of commuting have changed radically but still the commuting club can exist (I like to throw these cliques by sitting in their seats, after all it is public transport!). 

“The London express offered him breakfast as soon as it left Birmingham, and he accepted its offer with alacrity. It was full of people who appeared to be old friends. Even the ticket-collectors and dining-car attendants seemed to know everybody. Men leaned across Inigo to ask one another where old Smith was. He had hardly begun his porridge before the man sitting next to him and suddenly turned and shouted: ‘Hello! Wondered where you were. I say, is there any truth in that story about Bradbury and Torrence?’ Inigo, startled, was about to stammer that he had not the least idea, when he discovered that his neighbour was not addressing him at all but a man busy chipping an egg at the other side of the aisle. And thought the ticket-collector examined his ticket and the attendants brought him food, they did it impersonally, without any of those remarks about the weather and the number of people on the train that seemed to be offered to everybody else. At first he felt as if he had blundered into a party given by a complete stranger, perhaps the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. After a time, however, he merely felt he was not really there at all. The train and its passengers did not believe in him.”

(Priestly, J.B., 1962, The Good Companions, London: Penguin, p.509)

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