Travelling by train at the weekend I indulged in my usual past time of people watching and random conversations, not just because I am garrulous by nature and incredibly nosy, but also because these are the people that eventually pepper our fictional ramblings.
The first lady was a herbalist, and it was an unusual piece of jewellery that she was wearing which attracted me. I asked her about it and was told it had been made by a local silversmith and represented Elen of the Ways. For those who are not familiar with Welsh/Cornish tradition Elen is the antlered goddess , also known as the Green lady, and guardian of the Leys, (ancient track ways). We went on the chat about paganism, and then onto herbalism.
The longer I talked with her the more familiar she seemed and the stronger was the sense of deja vu. I’d both had this conversation before, and seen that necklace. Thinking back I am certain we had met travelling the same route on a previous occasion. I can count on my fingers the number of times I have travelled that route, and by her own admission it was a rare trip for her. So what then? Not just deja vu but somehow predestined?
There is a story in there, so another encounter filed away for future reference. A definite contemporary fantasy.
On the same train was a young woman on her way to her new life at University. Leaving home for the fist time and full of excitement and anxiety in equal measure. She chattered on about how she had left her parents at 5 am and how her parents had been so tearful when she had left; how she had bought a sandwich but could not eat it because she was so nervous; how she was sharing halls with someone she had only met once before, etc etc. How she had missed two whole terms at school and had been convinced she would never make the exam grades. It all poured out of her in a torrent of doubts and fears, as though the telling of all this to me and to ‘Elen’ was a way of bolstering her own flagging courage.
Another story in the making. A romance, perhaps?
On the return trip I passed through the luggage area where a young father was standing with his toddler child in a buggy, and I overheard a snatch of conversation:
Child: daddy, I miss you when I’m not at you house. Do you miss me?
Father: Yes, I miss you lots.
Child: I miss mummy when I am at your house. Do you miss mummy?
father: of course you miss mummy. She misses you as well.
Child: why is mummy at Grannies house now?
It would have been difficult to hear more without obvious eavesdropping – but wow. Written down it sounds cliched, saccharine, yet a very real encounter, and yet another snatch of a story in the making.
All strangers and all in danger of ending up on a printed page (albeit in disguise). Maybe I should travel by train more often.