Because this once bi-weekly experience is for me now quite rare, to sit in a train carriage is to play in my head a rotating loop of choo-choo scenes and theme music.
For instance, at this moment my rear-facing seat matches the orientation of Denis Dimbleby Bagley (Richard E. Grant) to a vicar and banker with whom, in one brief but iconic scene, he shares a compartment in Bruce Robinson’s How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989). Indeed I note that my lips are moving — inaudibly, one hopes — as I imagine myself sneering like Bagley, “About as likely as tits spread with peanut butter!”
On a colder morning than this one, with steam forming on the Brit Rail glazing and revealing the usual doodles and scrawls (cross-eyed smiley faces bearing fangs, blocky initials astride arrow-pierced hearts, the cloacal truisms of Arsenal supporters), I might find myself contributing a cursive F-r-o-y to the misty hieroglyphs. (You can Google that on your own time.)
But the book is always Farewell, My Lovely, and the theme music, Roy Budd’s “Carter Takes a Train.”