Monday, 20 August 2007

"Hello? Is that But Why? It's God here... I'm just on a train..."

I had a bit of a run-in with The Almighty this morning. There I was, sitting on the train as it made its way out of Woking, minding my own business, reading a book in a content, slightly sleepy, undemanding-of-conversations-with-the-Supreme-Being, atheist kind of way, when my consciousness was stirred by something that didn't quite sound right. I replayed the last string of words I'd heard in my head to work out what was wrong...

"Good morning. This is your God speaking."

Yes, that was definitely what I'd just heard. Every word mapped, in that order, to the memory of the previous communication. If that was so, it appeared my God was speaking to me. I now knew what was wrong - being a committed atheist, this was a little disconcerting. Still, I sat a bit straighter and started paying attention - you never know when it might be useful to adopt a more flexible posture on these matters. I cast a glance at my fellow commuters. They weren't responding, so I assumed it was only me that God was talking to.

It seemed a bit odd that God should choose to have a word in my ear when I was buried in a book - I'm not receptive to The Good News at the best of times, and The Omniscient One should have known that they'd get short shrift interrupting my reading. I was also beginning to regret thinking I could get away with that pair of socks with the holes in the heels which don't show above the shoeline. Still, I could do nothing to change that now. I wondered what God wanted - my book wobbled a little in my hands as I strained for what I hoped would be some more impressive pearls of wisdom. I didn't have to wait long...

"I am currently in Coach 8 of this twelve coach train."

Well, OK. That may be factually correct, but I was hoping for something a little more sage... Still, you are God. You choose to be on a train. That's fine. Whatever floats your boat, though I'd always thought that if I ever made it to the status of a deity, I'd inhabit somewhere a bit more salubrious. Atop a cloud, perhaps, or on a mountain overlooking the ocean. Somewhere with a decent view. Certainly not on the 9:03 to London Waterloo on a Monday morning. And further, I would pick a slightly more polished accent, rather than sounding like I'd just got out of bed and couldn't be bothered to articulate my words. This was beginning to seem a little unlikely, and all rather disappointing for that magical moment of the first time God spoke to me.

I was just running those communications with The Almighty through my head again - after all, they might be important. I was glad I did - the penny dropped:

"Good morning. This is your Guard speaking. I am currently in Coach 8 of this twelve coach train."

Ahhhh, that made more sense. I wasn't having delusions after all. And god certainly hadn't put in a personal appearance on my way to work when I was wearing a pair of holey socks. Good. What a relief...

As if that wasn't disturbing enough, I can report that speech impediments in train guards are spreading. Coming on the back of this morning's misrepresentation of the holy one, when the guard apologised for "the crap conditions on this train", I wondered if I might be hearing things. But no, the other commuteniks had heard it too, and were discussing if he really had apologised for the crap conditions. To make things easier for us, he thoughtfully repeated his message. "On behalf of South West Trains, I would like to apologise for the crap conditions on this train. There are a few seats still available in the rearmost carriage."

I think he was probably saying "cramped"...

11 comments:

rob said...

Clearly they were Holy socks

*badum tsssh*

KindaBlue said...

Is that what you call a holy roller, then?

The good thing is you can hear the guards over the intercom on SWT. More often than not, to me, train announcements sound something like "mumble mumble mumph fwaarg crackle Warrington Bank Quay mumble mumble".

At least the guards know where they are. On arrival at Basingstoke this afternoon, the automatic train announcement calmly stated that "this train has reached its final stop, Hounslow." It seems to do this with curious regularity.

It tends to help if at least one of you has a sense of geography...

trousers said...

I liked this. It reminded me of a train guard I heard recently who had no problems with his enunciation.

"You'll notice that conditions on this train are very cramped, for which I would like to apologise. Those customers who are hiding in the toilets because they haven't bought tickets may as well come out because there's no way I'm going to be able to get through the train to you: you too might as well have a relaxing journey if possible."

trousers said...

Ooops, me again, just remembered another announcer at Chesterfield station.

"The next train on platform one is for Sheffield, calling at.......(long pause)......NOWHERE."

An eerie silence followed.

But Why? said...

Rob,
That thought had never entered my mind, but let it be known that if I have a maker sitting on a cloud somewhere, I shall be wearing a decent pair of socks when I go to meet them...

Kindablue,
Groan. Yes, I sympathise with your first problem. I sometimes feel as if I have been transported to another country, where the only words and sounds I recognise are the place names (or the footballers).

Trousers,
Great tale. Nice to know there are some guards out there with pleasant personalities...

And as for announcers at Chesterfield station refusing to acknowledge the presence of their awesome and mighty neighbour to the north, well, I suspect that's a bit of sour grapes.

But xx

DJ Kirkby said...

lol! You had me going there!

Pixie said...

Great story, really enjoyed it.
I'd love to have a witty train story too, but closest I get to trains are sitting under the bridge in my car as the London Express pulls into Macclesfield, which is not quite the same!
px

But Why? said...

dj,
Thanks - relating my near miss with my maker was deeply theraputic and has restored my faith in my atheism. But I was properly worried for a while there. I suspect I ought to get my hearing checked...

Pixie,
Be careful for what you wish - for every mildly relatable journey, I probably collect twenty which are dreary, dull and eminently forgettable. Whilst it's doing wonders for getting through my reading list, I'd rather be within striking distance of the Peak District than Woking, anyday...

But x

Reading the Signs said...

But what if it really was God speaking after all? It seems quite appropriate that He should be on a commuter train pulling out of Woking and the apology for crap conditions lends weight to the idea. Remember Jack Kerouac: first thought best thought and only first drafts (and thoughts, even those that come because of speech impediments) are preserved in heaven. I like the sound of Him. I do.

But Why? said...

Actually, Signs (if I may be so bold), the sort of god that apologises for the crap conditions that his human formations have created for themselves sounds just like the sort of god I could cope with. One who makes his flock and then looks on sadly as they screw up everything that was once beautiful. I certainly wouldn't mind that god accompanying me on my commutes. Sounds like someone I could happily chat to over a coffee and a muffin on the bridge at Clapham Junction.

It would seem that I have a long way to go on my spiritual journey to finding god, if He is compelled to direct me to so precise a location as Coach Eight. I wonder what I might have found there had I have gone looking? If He/She/It/YHWH comes my way again this week, I'll be sure to blog it (though between the poor enunciation of the staff on SWT, my inherent atheism and diminishing aural facilities, I'd probably dismiss any further godly messages as temporal artifacts and/or make an appointment with a qualified clinician.)

But xx

Reading the Signs said...

Dear But, please do, I have a good feeling about Coach 8 and it is worth bearing in mind that He/She/It/YHWH manifests in mysterious ways appropriate to the age and our particular condition (S/He will have clocked your atheism and will undoubtedly be sympathetic, some say that Jesus was the first atheist) and speech impediments, poor enunciation etc. is a perfect chink for divine manifestation.

I await with interest.

x Signs