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Saturday, 12 May 2012

500 words: Eurostar

"Mum, what are they talking about?" It was 10 o'clock in the morning, and we had just crossed into Belgium after a short stop in Lille on the Eurostar train. My son was watching the people sitting in front of us having what seemed like a jolly time, sitting in the four-square chairs with a little table separating one couple from the other.

"I don't really know", I replied.

"But they're laughing all the time.They must be finding something really funny."

"I put away my traveller's magazine and decided to eavesdrop."

Sitting on the table before each traveller were either three empty scotch or three empty gin mini-bottles and a can of soda or cola. The men were more subdued than their wives; they were even eating crisps with their drinks. The women preferred just the liquids. The buxom blonde was built like a tractor. She was especially brash, now that the alcohol had begun to take effect. A train announcement came through over the intercom:

"Please note that the bar will be closing in ten minutes. If you wish to eat or drink anything during your journey..."

The remaining words were drowned by the blonde's cackles.

 "Oh no it won't!" she croaked. 

"Open all hours!" chimed her brunette and slightly more demure girlfriend. Their menfolk just nodded.

"Oh, I just remembered Martin at work," the blonde said. "He's such a sweetie, but he's really confused." She fished a sodden strawberry out of the plastic cup holding her gin and tonic. "It's a case of being lovestruck, I'd say."

"Mmmm," her girlfriend mumbled, slightly glancing her way before turning her head to gaze at the quickly changing scenery.

"Just before I left the office yesterday, he told me he wanted to move to Canada. And I said, Do you? And he said, Yeah. And I said, Lovely, but aren't you worried about being on your own there? And he said, Well, I haven't got much choice now. And I said, Yeah, I suppose so. And then I asked him if he was worried about the cold there. And he said, No, I like the rivers and the mountains and all that. And I said, Oh, lovely, you'll get used to Canada really quickly then, won't you? And at that moment, he looked at me..."

At this point, the blonde was almost whispering.

"... and he said, There's just one thing. And I said, Oh, what's that? And he said, I don't like horses." She stopped talking abruptly.

After a two-second pause, everyone else in her company let out a muffled guffaw. The blonde then joined them, tittering.

"Can you imagine that?" the blonde said, surveying her audience's faces. "He doesn't like horses."

I explained the story to my son, wondering what he would make of it, as even I didn't quite understand it myself. He surveyed my face for a couple of seconds. I hesitated, hoping that he would say something before I had to jump in and explain the idea of being drunk to him. Just then, he spoke:

"They're nuts, right? What's living in Canada got to do with horses?"

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