Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 30 November 2012

In Praise of the Peaceful

It must be the most awful burden to be so damned important that you have to take call after call on the train, and talk loudly to your many minions about... Well, that’s the point... Because the apparently very important woman in the carriage on the train with us was talking so loudly and non-stop, even I couldn’t help overhearing what she was talking about, and I’m pretty deaf!

This woman, who I had begun to feel terribly sorry for, because she, and all of us sharing a carriage with her, couldn’t get a moment’s peace on her journey to work, because she was so fearfully important that she was glued to her phone, which, as soon as she managed to extricate herself from one urgent call, simply rang again, and simply had to be answered... This woman was talking the most utter drivel about nothing at all that couldn’t be delegated to almost anyone with a pulse, who was already in the office, because let’s not pretend she wasn’t on the 9-11am train, and wouldn’t get to work until well after ten o’clock and should be ashamed of her tardiness. This woman was taking ten minutes to talk herself into a decision that I wouldn’t think twice about or give more than a yay or a nay to. This woman was inflating herself in a manner that was neither impressive nor attractive, nor in any way remotely aggrandising. It conferred on her no... no anything.

We did not respect her or admire her business acumen. We were cross and baffled, and one or two of us, although not me, or at least not loudly, made pointed and amusing remarks that garnered grins and, in one case a stifled guffaw from the other passengers. Madam was, of course, oblivious.

Really important people do not bluster, they do not draw attention to themselves and they do not do their business in public. The really important people I know don’t have their phones turned on in public places, least of all on trains, and business associates don’t have their mobile numbers. Mobiles are for family.

This woman’s time and space were not more important than mine or the couple of dozen other people’s in that carriage on that train, and she bloody well ought to have known better. 

Peaceful, gentle, modest people are appreciated far too little and paid far too little attention. So this is for them: THANK YOU! I for one appreciate your humility, your decency, your good manners and the very fact that you make the World a more peaceful place for the rest of us to live in; we could all take a leaf out of your books.


  1. Had the same experience 2 days ago. But as the offending woman got off the train, a small voice said 'that was better than Jeremy Kyle'.

    The whole carriage erupted in laughter. The annoyance and irritation was gone in a second, replaced with a feeling of something shared and understood with knowing smiles.

    1. Shane McElligott1 December 2012 at 12:11

      I really, really hate the self-important, selfish buggers who are continually shouting down their phones on the train. There are signs in every carriage listing practices that passengers should refrain from doing. Below 'Yo! No loud music!' and above 'Don't beat people up! It's naughty! is 'Don't shout down your phone! It's, like, totally rude bro!
      This is the rule that is ignored the most by the Financial Times reading, pin-stripe suit wearing, Blackberry using, city working, self absorbed narcissists. And Jeremy Kyle fans. This Train Transgression is the one that is most likely to send me into a psychotic rage. These people seem completely oblivious to all the other passengers surrounding them and this can lead to overhearing conversations that were certainly never meant for the public domain.
      The most memorable example I was forced to endure was a lady shouting down her phone for 20 minutes, having a very detailed discussion about her vaginal thrush and the best ways to combat it. Eventually, after exhaustive detail about symptoms, medication and natural yoghurt, bellowed into her phone at roughly the same volume as an army drill instructor, she terminated the call. We made eye contact.
      "Too much." Says I.
      She looked at me, horrified, as if it was ME that invaded HER privacy.