So I took the TGV home again from Paris on Monday evening. The train was crowded. I always ask for a single seat so I'm not bothered by having someone sit next to me (how very sociable, I hear you say). Anyway, this was a last minute decision to take this earlier train and I ended up in a block of four seats - my least favourite position.
Wondering what nuisance people SNCF would seat next to me, I got out my laptop, book and i-pod. All things to keep me busy and stop me being talked to by my table-sharers.
"Is this seat 95? I'm never sure if I'm aisle or window".
"It says on your ticket - aisle or window" I said without looking up. Rude, I know.
"Ok thanks. I'm aisle, next to you".
I look at the French man about to install himself next to me. A handsome, chunky Frenchman of the classical variety - dark hair, stubble, good suit.
"Bonsoir" he said. "I'll try not to disturb you too much, you look busy".
"No problem" said I, "I'm just catching up on emails". See, I can be sociable if I want to be.
"Yeah, you picked up on my little accent I see".
"It's a great accent" he said, and gave me a big smile.
Thirty minutes into the journey, "Can I get you coffee or something - I'm going to the bar" he asked, "Maybe a cup of tea with milk?". French people think this is hilarious.
"Sure" I said. "In fact, I'll come with you. I've been sat down all day ". I hadn't.
We walk to the bar-car, which is quite classy on the TGV - a little man serving sandwiches, drinks, beers, and plenty of space to stand, chat, look out of the window.
He bought us both a beer each. We stood and looked out at the scenery flying past.
He asked me why I was visiting Lyon. I told him it's where I live. He asked me how long I'd been there. We chatted some more. He was funny and interesting, charming and disarming in that way that French men do so well.
He asked me to come for dinner with him at the weekend.
We returned to our seats. He leaned in and told me that he was pleased he'd changed his ticket and taken this train.
At the station, we swapped mobile phone numbers, shook hands and parted.
I've starting packing up my house this weekend. Preparing to leave Lyon.
I guess I'll tell him that when I see him tonight...