‘It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?’ she said.
‘It is, yes.’
I briefly considered whether to attempt some constructive extension to the conversation, but couldn’t be bothered.
‘And isn’t it lovely how the leaves turn all those pretty colours at this time of year?’
I felt my favourite autumnal theme coming on: the colour of autumn leaves is the colour of decay. I wondered whether I should proffer the thought that autumn may be seen as a metaphor for the later years of life. I declined both; she didn’t seem the responsive sort.
‘It is, yes,’ I repeated. I thought it better to keep it simple and be thought a miserable git than engage in forced and fruitless conversation and remove all doubt.
She took out a book and began reading. It was a Catherine Cookson novel, at which observation I nodded inwardly.
But then it occurred to me that people reading books on trains is relatively uncommon these days, and turned my attention to the pair of people on the other side of the aisle. One was a woman dressed in a business suit. She was tap, tap, tapping on a laptop. The young lad in the opposite seat was stroking and poking his tablet, which was propped up on his own closed laptop. His Samsung smart phone rang and he answered it immediately, since he was already prepared with the ear piece in place. As far as I could tell, neither of them so much as stopped to glance out of the window for the whole twenty six minutes of the journey.
I wondered whatever happened to the days when people dozed on trains, and dreamed of summer sunsets because they hadn’t yet heard of electric sheep.