One of the people I follow on Twitter travels by train and tweets about his fellow passengers, sometimes quoting their seemingly bizarre comments. He is well-known in the UK as the broadcaster, Ian McMillan (@IMcMillan). Some of his tweets make me cringe, but he is very popular.
When I travel by train I probably observe as much as he does, but I do not go online from the train. Instead I allow my observations to settle. I might tell members of my family or friends about the strange fashions I have noticed or the conversations I have overheard. I may even blog about them: View from the train, An outing by train, Life, luck and Lent and Another train journey.
I have recently made a series of journeys to visit relatives and attend a writers’ day. Travel broadens the mind.
I learned about a game some people play on the internet. They open a random page on Wikipedia and see how many clicks it takes them to reach the page about Hitler.
Why not Queen Elizabeth II? Or one of the saints? Or the pope? Or even Jesus Christ?
I heard a proposal to resell used Kindle books in the way printed books are sold in charity shops. This raises all kinds of questions. Charity shops do much good, but authors do not gain anything from their books being resold. There is a scheme in place for them to receive some payments from library loans. It would not be practical to have a scheme for the resale of books to be monitored and authors rewarded. Only the initial purchase of the book is of value to the author (and publisher). No-one would want to prevent books from being sold to raise money for charities, but perhaps those of us, who sometimes buy books second-hand might help authors by reviewing books on Amazon.
In a way it is a good thing that digital books are not resold. The issue that gave rise to the idea that they should be, was that digital books have a single owner, who may have built up a sizeable library. This investment allegedly cannot be passed on to their heirs.
On Saturday at the first station I entered, I was handed a leaflet by a policeman – presumably British Transport Police. It was about reporting hate crime on the London Transport network. It did not occur to me that later that day, I would see one of their officers at work on a train.
I was impressed by the way that this officer engaged with the people he was trying to keep in order. It was not particularly late at night, but in rural areas transport is limited, so people, who go out on the town do it earlier in the day.
He was helping keep all the passengers safe on the train. This is important. There should not be any no-go areas or services on the transport network. As a writer I was interested to observe my fellow-passengers. I even told the officer I was collecting material!
The Writers’ Day will have to wait for a later post.