Last Sunday my journey cost me my entire week’s income support.
All of it.
There is nothing quite like knowing on the Sunday that the rest of the week is all oozing out of the overdraft. The problem was that there were no trains to Kings Cross and we had to reroute and take taxis across London. By the time Grace and I were squeezed onto the Paddington to Bath train we were dishevelled, disgruntled and the stress had caused my eyes to blur. Grace disappeared under the seat in disgust to hoover up old chewing gum and I squinted at my homework through my magnifier.
The train was full to bursting and within a few minutes there was a queue for the seat next to us. I huffed (very quietly in my best British manner) and took my rucksack off the seat to let in a large man with long shaggy grey hair and wire-rimmed specs. He didn’t mind dogs he said and somehow managed to manoeuvre his legs into the spaces left by Grace. His young son had to sit on his lap. There was just no other room.
They were on their way home from a match. I listened for a while as they spoke ‘football’.
‘What was Lampard thinking?’
‘Rooney got one in…..did you see?’
As happens eventually the man and his son asked about the dog and then - because the magnifier was giving me a cracking headache and I was needing to feel empowered again, to feel worth something, I began to whiter on about how I hadn’t always been this way...blind and alone..…oh no.! Once, darling... I had been in the movies, talking pictures..ahh yes..back in the day.....(sighs, turns diva like to camera, lights cheroot, sips dry martini. )
‘I wonder if he is impressed,’ I thought knowing full well that he and his son were probably quite happy to keep discussing goal tactics.
Refusing to release my captured audience on I went.
‘In Zambia,’ I boasted like some hideous ex-colonial ‘I tried, single handed, to jump start a non-existent film industry... ‘
The man laughs kindly and something about the mannerism is somewhat familiar. A little chill runs down my neck. I peer at him closely.
‘Err … are you in media?’ I ask.
‘Well yes I am,’ says the man. His glasses catch the light and I can’t quite tell his expression. ‘I make my own films and stuff.’
There is a pause.
His son is looking at the back of the seat and trying not to grin.
‘Umm.. would I have seen any of your ..'stuff'’? My voice is a little high.
‘Now lets see.’ The man genuinely thinks about this for a second. ‘You may have seen my last release. ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’?’
Turns out I am sitting next to Paul Greengrass .
That’s The Paul Greengrass.
Two Bourne films and 'United 93' among other remarkable and ingenious works.
I notice my mouth is open. I shut it.
After a while I manage to open it again and we end up having much banter for the last remaining minutes before they get out at Reading station.
After they have gone I resist the urge to stand up and shout to the other passengers in the carriage, ‘Oy! Did anyone just see that?!’ I nudge Grace but she just chews her gum and turns over.
So after all the delay, the stress, even so, I still feel exuberant and blessed. Of all the trains in all the world I am the woman who gets to have a personal hero from the movie industry and his son spend 15 minutes making me laugh by telling stories of Matt Damon mistakenly hitting someone in the face on set.
I wonder who Grace and I will bump into this week!