Advice for those bored of enjoying life
If so, I offer these instructions to make your experience as close as possible to the one I had today on my journey back from a writers' holiday in Wales.
You will need:
1. a cheap ticket for a two-hour journey on a British train;
2. a hen party of eight twenty-something girls wearing lurid pink teeshirts emblazoned with 'JANE'S HEN PARTY' and carrying a supermarket's alcohol aisle in carrier bags. If you can get them to have conversations at volumes more suitable for shouting across canyons ('Who wants water? Anyone want water as well as the wine?' 'Oh, we're not going to do the bloody water thing, are we?') this will help enrich your experience;
3. a mother with three children under ten, one of whom has a voice so high that passing seagulls take a peek inside the carriage window, wondering how a fellow bird has boarded a train;
4. a deaf guard who, like my granny with her television, doesn't realise that the volume of his announcement tannoy is turned up to 40,000 decibels, and who also doesn't realise that a little warning before yelling THE NEXT STATION IS BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET AND THERE'S A DOCTOR THREE MINUTES FROM THE STATION IF YOU HAVE EAR PAIN is only polite.
If you are the type who can plan ahead, your experience can be even more fulfilling. Follow these strategies:
1. Attend a concert the night before your journey, performed by a 40-strong Welsh male voice choir in a small, hot, crowded lecture theatre. The tight conditions are imperative in order that you feel, as you will, as though they are singing personally to you, up one of your nostrils, using a megaphone.
2. Spend the two hours after the concert in a bar with people who keep topping up your wine glass when you're not looking. (Definition of 'not looking' here: 'pretending not to look')
3. While in the bar, drinking the eternal glass of wine, invite in the Welsh male voice choir and surround yourselves with its singers. Ask them to start songs spontaneously while standing approximately two nano-millimetres from your right ear. If they can adopt a technique similar to the deaf train guard, ie being careful to make sure that the very first syllable is at top volume, this will help.
4. Go to bed at one in the morning. If your head is thumping as it hits the pillow, all well and good.
5. Get up at 7.30 in order to start your journey. If your head is thumping as it rises from the pillow, all well and good.
I hope my advice furnishes you with an experience you will never forget. Please call and tell me. (But keep your voice down. Things are still pretty fragile.)