Monday, September 29

Sleeping Arrangements

29th September
Last week some camera kit needed to go to Paris – urgently, to be fixed and for various reasons it needed delivering in person.

I went for the late sleeper train on Thursday evening. The kit was packed in a large orange rucksack which was so heavy and full that I couldn’t take any personal stuff apart from the toothbrush and spare knickers that I stuffed in my jacket pocket. I was at the station early and staggered with my load to the nearest table in the cavernous station restaurant. A waitress ran out, shouting at me and sent me to a table of her choice. At this point the drunk in the corner lit a cigarette and the waitress transferred her wrath to him. The drunk tried to leave but was too unsteady, he heaved his rucksack on and fell backwards, lying like an upturned tortoise until the furious waitress gave him a hand to help him up and fell on top of him. So - a comedic start to the evening!

I was a bit nervous about the train journey, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these mixed sleepers. In my wagon, nearly all the six berths were already filled, I climbed to a top bunk and there, across the bunk space, a mere arm’s length away was a virtually naked, gorgeous young man. Below us in the middle bunks were a father and his daughter and in one of the bottom bunks an elderly man. I’d just settled myself, when a lot of huffing and puffing, shuffling and grunting sounds came from the corridor, our carriage door opened and a little woman with big crinkly hair wheezed into our carriage struggling with two cages full of birds, she was anxious and distressed and talking incessantly to them/herself. The semi-naked god leaned over from his bunk and calmed her down, she got her birds settled and there was no further incident.

In the few French homes I’ve visited I often see rooms filled with beds where everyone bunks down together when they come to stay, it made me consider the cultural issues of personal space and what we (me/my friends) think of as acceptable. Earlier this year, two writers came for a week to our UK production offices to work with us, I suggested that they might prefer to share a two-bedroom apartment rather than have hotel rooms. The idea was unacceptable because it meant they’d have to share a bathroom.

By contrast, when I got involved in a student exchange to Romania. The Romanian students gathered to claim us and take us back to their homes. Irena took me and another girl to her family’s tiny apartment in a vast Stalinesque neighbourhod on the outskirts of the city. Her parents and grandparents would sleep in the one bedroom she said, then led us into the living room, the sofa was given a push and lo! A bed was produced for the three of us girls to sleep in for the week.


  1. I had to share a bed with my Moroccan exchange too. AND her maid slept at the foot of the bed and woke us up in the night to pray.

    How are the insects. More insect news please!

  2. Hi Jaywalker, It being autumn, the most exciting insect stories have all happened now, they're mostly dying or going off to hibernate. The main filming story is how everything is breaking down and our systems aren't working quite as intended.

  3. everything is breaking down and our systems aren't working quite as intended.

    Sort of like the American banking system!


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