Well, here I was on my way to Coppers: toute seule in a gorgeous train compartment (first class, natch), all warm and toasty with a PG Wodehouse.
Life was pretty perfect… for the 12 minutes between Bonn and Cologne, where I was joined in my camera obscura by two fellow passengers. On entering, both wished me “Guten Morgen” (as is the wont of strangers here; people also say hello in the doctor’s waiting room and would no doubt greet one another at the lapdancing club or in the firing line while waiting for the main attraction to arrive), then turned their backs to me and began to undress. Having just read the night before about nudist bathing in Schleswig-Holstein I began to fear the worst, but thank God they stopped once their coats were off.
Regrettably, the male passenger seemed to think he was starring in a Getty ‘Corporate Life’ stock image photoshoot and proceeded to run through all the modern business cliches – hanging up his jacket, typing furiously on his laptop, wearing those annoying German glasses with no frames – and my cosy world of Jeeves and Wooster circa 1921 was shattered.
By the way, I noticed the man had a photograph of his son (I presume) in his house (ditto) as wallpaper on his computer, and I thought it would be funny if such family types took pictures of their children facing the corner like they’re made to do by the witch in the Blair Witch Project and put them up in the office just to freak people out. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Back in carriage 41, the man in the suit was now making a series of loud and utterly joyless phone conversations with his executive colleagues in Wuppertal. He had already forced out the other passenger, who I spotted taking refuge in the dining compartment when I escaped for emergency rations, and he would no doubt have proceeded to touch base and explore options all the way to Hamburg had the phone reception not suddenly cut off in the middle of nowhere. While I said “Thank fuck for that” (in my head), our man received commiserations from a second executive type wearing a yellow tie (always unfortunate) who had subsequently joined our party. This led to a happy discussion between them in which they compared briefcases and tutted about the pernicious effect of “farming country” on Deutschebahn’s mobile phone coverage, while I played dead on the opposite berth.
And thusly I travelled to CPH!