As I’m exhausted I thought writing something mildly amusing would help.
This is a true story which happened quite some time ago.
I was a student nurse who had recently returned from a holiday abroad and was wildly in love. The object of my love was living a long train journey away. So one Friday afternoon I packed my bag, left the hospital with unseemly haste and made it on time to get a seat on the very full train to Tralee for the first of many times. In four hours I would be seeing him again. Be still my beating heart!
I had sat in the only free two seats at the very back of the carriage. As I pulled out my book I heard loud voices. Keeping my head down I was hoping that whoever was arriving was not going to sit near me. There was a lot of wheezing, and coughing happening, just out of sight. My heart sank, feck it I just knew this one was heading for me. Sure enough a woman walked in and asked if the seat beside me was free. Trapped I smiled, “Yes”, and at that moment the wheezing, coughing elderly apparition arrived.
She was not a slight woman (mild understatement), dressed in a large, heavy coat and sweating profusely. Her colour was an unhealthy shade of blue/grey. With a mighty ‘plomp’ she landed in the seat beside me. The outside seat.
Her daughter began to try to remove her coat, which was impossible, so with a lot more wheezing, and a prolonged period of coughing she stood once more, while her coat was peeled off her. Once again she landed in the seat beside me from a height. Her daughter smiled in my directions and asked me was I going to Tralee. My heart sank, four hours trapped with wheezy. Yes, I replied with my most perfect lying face.
“Would you mind looking after my mother and making sure she gets off okay? My sister will meet her there”.
Now what was I supposed to say to that? I think it may have been some sort of rhetorical request as before I could answer she was shouting loudly into her mothers ear, telling her and the whole carriage that I was ‘happy’ to look after her.
Then she was gone.
I opened my book and pretended to read. Suffice to say I didn’t get much read in the four hours. There were tissues to be found in her massive handbag, refreshments from the trolley to be decided on (at the top of our voice), and of course the two trips to the bathroom that took forever, her wheezing and coughing my only clue, she was alive behind the door. Slowly the train began to empty as we got nearer our destination. The night had drifted in and there was nothing to see out the window but darkness.
I was a city girl, and I wondered what sort of countryside was out there. The voice announced our next station, but if you have ever heard a very strong kerry accent you will understand that a young Dub such as myself had no hope of deciphering it. Not having a clue what he said, I looked at my watch which told me we were due to arrive about now. Knowing it would take a bit of time to get my fair lady off the train I decided to move early. We were now alone in the carriage so it wasn’t quite as embarrassing to roar at her telling her we were nearly there. I pushed as she pulled against the seat in front and up she stood. I passed her by, removed our bags and we shuffled towards the exit doors puffing, wheezing and coughing. Eventually the train stopped and I opened the door.
It was a very old train with no fancy electronic button, just an old fashioned handle. Pushing back the door I looked out into the darkness. To my horror there was no platform to be seen. Nothing to stand on. The ground was a good three feet below. How in hell was I going to get my fair wheezy lady out?
I looked at my friend and shouted the news at her. Not caring if she heard or not I jumped out into the darkness. I couldn’t believe it. I knew Dublin was very different to life in the country, but I had never imagined anything as backward as this. No platform. No station that I could see. I began to walk along the track. It was pitch black. Then out from between a carriage I saw a large torch shining at me.
“wzhoaua;k aodfd 2ela’uifrfoua” he said. (I know I hadn’t a clue what he said either, his kerry accent far too strong for me.)
I decided it would be best if I spoke.
“Oh hello, I’m trying to get some steps or something to get this lady I’m looking after off the train”
Again he began to speak, but it was no use I’d no clue what he was going on about. Then I heard him mention Tralee.
“Yes, I agreed, we are getting off at Tralee”.
He laughed loudly and at that moment along came another guard. They spoke to each other and this fella I understood. He too cracked up laughing.
“Sorry missy, but this isn’t Tralee. Will you get back on that train, you’re only in Farranfore”
Mortified I scuttled back and climbed into the carriage. My poor wheezy lady was waiting. Roaring at her I explained we had another stop to go. As we sat down again along came my two new friends to check if I was okay. They were most amused at this Dublin city girls mistake, and laughed loudly (and most unprofessionally) at the idea that I was minding wheezy lady.
Eventually they left us. Fifteen minutes later I heard the announcement spoken very slowly and clearly, obviously for my benefit,
“We.. are.. arriving.. in Tra…lee station… All Dublin passengers.. please get off… at this station”.
Very funny I thought… Not.
I handed over my wheezy lady to her grateful daughter and quickly said goodbye, as I ran off to meet the one who would hopefully make that awful journey worthwhile.
And he did. Over twenty years later we are still together. On occasions I remember this journey and how backward I believed Ireland was outside of The big city. I may not have settled in Tralee, but I did fall for the charms of life outside Dublin, and in time I mastered the Kerry accent too.