The Quiet Coach


Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Clapham Junction. Luci met me there and transported me to her home in Hambalt Road, where I added my signature to various documents as joint executor of Wolf’s will.

We then spent the evening together enjoying wide-ranging conversation about our long term friendship, reminiscing about my friend, and thinking forward to the future. Luci cooked a very tasty lamb meat loaf served with sweet potatoes and salad followed by a chocolate sponge with blueberries and strawberries. We shared a bottle of Wolf Blass red label 2016. I stayed the night in preparation for our visit to the Probate Court.

BegoniasBegonias etc

Luci’s well tended small paved back garden is full of mature shrubs and large pots planted chiefly with begonias.

Buddleia etc

A buddleia is trained against the back fence,


and red geraniums reach out from a hanging basket.

Clapham South Station

In the middle of the morning Luci drove us to Clapham South Underground Station nearby Β which she parked the car and we continued our journey to Chancery Lane by Tube.

Bicycles chained up

Only yesterday evening our friend had been speaking of the increase in cyclists taking to the roads in London. Those machines chained to railings immediately outside the station and opposite bear witness to this.

Conker tree

Conker trees are coming to fruition on Clapham Common,


on and past which joggers exercised.

Bus in traffic

This No 50 bus approaching the tube station will have left Stockwell on its way to Katherine Street, Croydon via Streatham, Norbury, and Thornton Heath. It has to make its way through far more traffic that would have been the case when it began operating in the early 1950s. We travelled through Stockwell on our way to The Royal Court of Justice. A bus would have taken much longer.

At the court we were subjected to scanning and searching similar to that undertaken by airport security. My metal hip, as usual, set off the alarm, and, arms akimbo, I stood until my statement that it was my hip that had rung the bell was confirmed. My cameras were temporarily confiscated, and my electric toothbrush caused a little excitement.

Swearing the oath relating to the application for probate was smooth and straightforward.

Luci accompanied me in a taxi to Waterloo where I caught the train back to Brockenhurst. Jackie then drove me back home.

On each of my journeys to and from London I was engaged in contrasting discussions in the Quiet Coach. This is the one carriage where it is forbidden to use mobile phones and customers are asked to be quiet.

On the outward journey there were not many passengers on board. An obviously important gentleman joined at Southampton and sat diagonally opposite me. He proceeded to take phone calls and deliver instructions about someone who had just undergone an operation and should not fly for three days. At the end of the second conversation I pointed to the signs – one over each seat – and asked him if he realised he was in the quiet coach. He said he did and the calls were about a patient in Β hospital. I replied that we were well aware of that because we could hear everything. Another passenger chipped in with “You could go to another coach”. “Well, if it’s that important….” replied the miscreant. He then rose to his feet, screamed at me that “what’s important is that I take the call”, and, phone in hand, disappeared from the carriage, soon to return. He again sat down and concentrated on his laptop, thumping his hand up and down on the table until he wore himself out.

The return journey’s conversation was rather different. The carriage was packed. I found two sets of four seats spanning the narrow gangway. Four were occupied, four were piled with luggage. One young man was talking on his mobile phone. Feeling like a really crotchety old git I said “I need one of these seats. I don’t care which”. Only the young man, continuing his conversation, moved his backpack from the seat. I thanked him and sat down. I thought I would not interrupt until the train got under way. I always believe in giving people a chance. Nothing changed after we set off. I went into my now all to familiar routine. Reacting crossly, the lad turned his phone off. There was a bit of remonstration and I was allowed to get back to my book. After a few more minutes my companion apologised and said he had just been for a job interview and was in a bad mood. I was most sympathetic; we chatted for a while about the job and the problem of interviews in general; I returned to my book; he plugged in earphones; we ended up the best of friends, and said our farewells when I left.

I’m not sure I will have the stomach for the quiet coach on my next journey.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. I finished the Bordeaux and Jackie drank sparkling water.


  1. My last London home was in Kings Avenue, Clapham … bottom of Crescent Lane. My eldest daughter moved into a flat-share in Clapham several years ago and we met so that I could take her to blow 12 quid on an IKEA coffee table … they had all chipped in. She asked where she and her daddy had lived when she was a baby exactly. Bottom of Crescent Lane I said. Oh, she replied – I don’t know it. When the SatNav delivered us to her new abode I was helpless with laughter because she was actually in one of the old 30s council flats at the top of ….Crescent Lane! Your experience with the quiet carriage has induced a long-buried nervous tic from my commuting into Paddington days which ended not quite 4 years ago. Seething doesn’t cover it.

  2. Some people like to think rules do not apply to them. I prefer the quiet car. You have every right to expect quiet when you sit there.

  3. It’s like able-bodied people parking in designated handicapped parking spaces. Such a sense of entitlement.
    Glad to hear the young man had the gumption to apologise. That surprised me, nicely. πŸ™‚

  4. I have very low opinions of doctors, particularly the self important kind like that fellow on the train. I am 65 but I stood up for someone more unsteady TWICE on one bus trip (the first time a man stood up for me). All the young people remained seated, pretending they didn’t see. How ill bred our young.

  5. The quiet coach was quite an episode. You have drawn the character of the important person rather well. Pesky co-passengers make commuting memorable!

  6. Our Buddleia would always be covered in Butterflies, hence their name, and were the easiest bushes to plant, dig up and replant in some other spot. A very welcome plant.

  7. Goodness! I have taken the quiet coach many times from Boston to New York, when I visit my daughter Dee. And it is always…quiet. Bad luck for you? As for begonias…when you have a shady yard, begonias are just the thing, and I have become a reluctant fan. Not only do they do well in part shade, but they also look good from early summer to fall. Who could ask for anything more?

  8. The garden is nice but nowhere near yours. What a pity people tend to be rude. Even as a doctor, you must respect the rules in society and should not take the silent coach if you know you are going to have to answer calls. At our Rotary meetings doctors are allowed to take calls but that is because they have to do so and are obliged to attend the meetings so it is not about them being rude. Glad you had a better experience with the young lad.

    1. Very many thanks, Geetha. The real point here is that the quiet coach is meant to be just that, which is why someone with a book opts to go there. The doctor had his choice of many half empty carriages, and knew exactly what he was doing.

  9. I missed this one. It sounds like you had an interesting day–court and self-important jerks in the quiet car. The flowers are lovely though, and you got Mr. Chan’s at the end of the day. πŸ™‚

  10. Both my husband and I are the type to not want to confront this type of scofflaw so we just end up miserable for the whole trip.
    “thumping his hand up and down on the table until he wore himself out”–funny! Like a child….

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