A Policeman On A Train
That’s not to say that trains in other country are by no means ‘safe’, but there’s something about an English train, especially one gently gliding from one side of the country to the other, that feels almost like an extension of your own living room. I’m so comfortable in these swiftly travelling communal lounges that I regularly find myself dozing off whilst aboard them, usually waking with a start to find a new traveller sat opposite me, looking almost as surprised as I am.
I became a frequent rail traveller when I reached retirement age after buying my senior’s railcard. The discount of a third off might still leave long-distance rail journeys a little more expensive than I like, but it’s a price that I’m willing to pay to be able to travel across the country with a newspaper, sandwich and the freedom to fall asleep as and when I please. This might not be the kind of retirement that many policemen dream of, but it’s one that I’m happy to be living.
I had the good fortune of a long and relatively uneventful career, or at least as uneventful as you could hope for a career in the police force. I’ve had the occasional foot-chase, the odd grisly scene and a couple of heartbreaking moments, but I’ve come to terms with these being par for the course for a lifetime spent in the service of the British public. As a policeman I’ve seen the worst and the best that human beings can do, but it’s not stopped me from leaving my open bag on my seat whilst I go in search for the loo on the train.
I trust that those travelling on the train with me have paid their fares and are upstanding members of the public, who are unlikely to see the battered satchel of a retired policeman as the perfect opportunity for a quick snatch and grab. Some might say that this is rather naive of me. After all, as a policemen I should know that there are thieves everywhere and that most of them work on an opportunistic basis. This is true, but I have not spent my entire adult life protecting and serving the British public to turn my back on them in mistrust.
The Great British Train is an institute of civility and tranquillity, at least during the day. I’ve learnt during the last few years to avoid travelling in the evenings through the weekend, as this more often than not leads to encounters with drunks (who are perfectly amiable, I might add, just a little loud for my liking). During the days (usually midweek) there is no place that I’d rather be than on a train slowly making its way through the countryside, occasionally stopping at a built-up settlement but always finding its way back to the green pastures once more.
Whenever I find myself winding through an attractive slice of rural England, I can’t help but sigh and sink a little further back into my seat. This is the England that I served in all its verdant glory, a land that I’m happy to watch drift by from the comfort of a train seat for the rest of my retirement.