On the way from Lincoln to Manchester yesterday for the Convergence Summit I changed trains at Sheffield. A man got on and sat opposite me.
The bloke looked a bit stressed. He was dark haired with a little beard and wore a shawl around his shoulders that gave away the fact that he was from somewhere in the Middle East.
He was continuously on the phone and regularly frowned at his iPhone when the signal kept disappearing. We are on a train I thought to myself! The signal is going to be crap!
The person at the other end kept ringing him back but then seemed to give up. We were through tunnels and out into the Pennines.
Turns out he wasn’t carrying a ticket. The conductor came along and charged him £25 to get to Manchester Airport. The return was about £34. He considered it but decided only to go for the single. Seemed like a good saving to me. He was clearly planning on coming back otherwise he wouldn’t have asked how much the return would be. Nowt as queer as folk.
As we approached Manchester his phone started to work again and I began to pick up snippets as he occasionally lapsed from Arabic into English. The conversation went like this:
“if …….. my life is finished. I will call you. I will call you. I will try and cross the border. Turkey… Syria.”
Wow. No wonder this guy looked stressed. He was on his way to Turkey and then trying to cross the border into Syria. There’s a big untold story behind those few words. Something we only ever see on the news played out in front of me on the train.
The train arrived at Manchester Piccadilly and I got off. I wish him luck…
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