Somehow my reservation in the train from Newport back to London on Sunday was in the Family Carriage. 4 small kids were sat close to me, completely ignored by the parents, and hence make an almighty racket. This was further compounded by the woman sat next to me who spent most of the journey yapping on her mobile phone and sending text messages. So much for admiring the rolling hills of Wiltshire in the August evening sunshine, the wind rustling the maize fields and the boughs of the oaks dotted along the hedgerows. I hence sought solace in the buffet car of the First Great Western ‘High Speed’ service.
These buffet cars are basically a bar where you can get yourself a bottled beer, a cheeseburger, or – as I did – a lousy instant coffee. I was somewhat surprising told that I had to take a bag (on health and safety grounds) to put my coffee cup in, as should I spill the coffee on a fellow passenger, I would be liable to be sued. Is this not a bit mad, as argued in this article in today’s Guardian? What happens when I’m sat drinking the coffee and I spill it? And anyway, it’s not as if the coffee cup was actually open – it even had a securely fitting lid. Plus there’s the issue that because the quality of Britain’s trains is so lousy, you might spill your coffee when the train hits a large bump in the track. All quite bizarre. Britain does seem to be a bit paranoid.