Bad wine and a strange exit.

Enjoying Shakespeare as much as I do, I’d often looked at the line, “They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts.”

But one of the odder exits was related to me over an indifferent bottle of wine which claimed , on the label, to be from the House of Rothschild. Probably from some 7th cousin, 8 times removed. We were talking about various train journeys we’d experienced. I told him how the only bottle of corked wine I’d ever had was on a north bound train. Unfortunately, I declined the waiter’s offer to taste it and off he went. It was like vinegar. When the waiter returned I threw myself on his mercy to be reminded with a withering sigh that he had offered it to me for tasting. “Of course,” I said. But wondered if he had another one? He vanished and returned to say there wasn’t but  “Would, SIR, like a Pale Ale instead?”

My friend also had a story involving a dining-car, a place which I’ve always thought fits in to the old “News of the World” strap, “All human life is here.”

He was heading for Birmingham’s , Snow Hill station and was sharing a table with two young business men who talked nothing but office jargon about how much “loot” they’d made and finding it very funny that “Gerald has been moved from H2 to G9 AND his wife has just left him.” The other man at the table was a large northerner dressed in a check suit, a brocade waistcoat and sporting a plaid tie. He loudly asked the waiter if he had any of that Spanish Chablis because he didn’t want any of that French rubbish.

Eventually, the train slowed on its approach  to the Snow Hill Station. In those days, my friend said, the incline towards the platforms made it necessary to have an auxiliary engine attached to pull it in and resulted in a short delay. As the train ground to a halt, one of the business men stood up, reached for his briefcase in the overhead rack and bade everyone  good night saying that he always got out here and walked the rest of the way, headed for the door, jumped down onto the track and vanished into the night.

It was an exit that Shakespeare could never have imagined.


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