{01/06/2012}   Eating food on trains

One of the many things that shocked me about returning to the UK after two and a half years living in Japan was how much food is consumed on trains and how smelly and intrusive it is.  In Japan it just isn’t done, and on a few occasions when I tried surreptitiously to nibble something, I felt guilty, naughty even.  I don’t feel naughty eating on trains in the UK, but I would rather not do it as it adds to the all-round train aroma resulting from being trapped in a carriage, usually without opening windows, with a whole load of strangers with all their whiffs and pongs!

In dire need of sustenance a few months ago, I resorted to eating my egg sandwiches on the train.  I felt ostracised, probably rightly so, for the smell seemed like one great big almighty fart.  Egg or fish sandwiches are probably the most offensive and should be banned, but a McDonald’s meal or a hot pasty is also overpowering.  I have got the vomit comet home before.  I am not a post-booze eater, though I do get why people want to eat after a drinking session.  It’s just that on a train, with no escape, smelling such strong food mixed with the inevitable sweat and booze stench makes me feel a touch queasy.  I also don’t appreciate food remnants on the seats and floor.  Listen to me, I shouldn’t be allowed onto a public forum like a blog, it brings out the moaner in me; something I would (should) otherwise keep restrained!

I am writing this and hearing my Victor Meldrew gearing up for full rant mode.  If I were in charge of trains (I know this applies to all public transport, it’s just that I get more trains than any other mode of transport), I would have a food-free carriage in addition to the quiet carriage.  There would then be a dining carriage in which you could eat your lunch, whether purchased on the train or brought yourself.  The only issue, as ever, is the security issues of leaving your bags and seat unattended.  Maybe I could ban fast food outlets at train stations?  Maybe that would make me hugely unpopular?  Oh, and the other night, I bought a Leon’s superfood salad (I did go for a less smelly option, ruling out the salmon) on my way to a dinner time train.  I had to eat it on the train.  Hmmm, I am seeing flaws to my ban-fast-food-outlets-near-stations proposition too, there are times when you can only really eat at a decent time by eating on the train!

Maybe I should just stop moaning and eat my egg sandwiches oblivious to how stinky and unsociable it is.  Maybe having a public rant about it is enough to keep me quiet for a few more smelly train journeys!  I wonder perhaps also if our varying standards are what make we Brits, for example, a diverse, relatively unpredictable population; more independent and less rule-bound than, say, the Japanese.  There, not so ranty after all, there’s hope for me yet.


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