Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 24 February 2014

Strangers on a train

Have you ever seen someone on a train...and wished you`d said something?

I`m damn sure I saw the director Jonathan Miller on the Northern Line yesterday. Or maybe it was because I`d just seen a picture of him in the new Bailey`s Stardust photography exhibition and *thought* it was him.

I often sit on trains and wish I had the courage to start a conversation. Yeh, ok, sometimes it might be : `Get your bloody boots off that seat `. But it might be that you just really like their scarf or something. Or find that you`re both screwing up your noses at the torrential rain hammering against the window. Maybe they look a bit sad and lonely, and you want to ask what`s wrong.

It`s tricky, isn`t it? They might think you`re completely bonkers. (Though, frankly, if I found myself on the 7.39 and David Morrissey was across the table from me, I might just take a punt).

Is it a `British` thing? Do we worry that, once we start the conversation, it`ll be like removing the Pringles *POP*...and they just won`t stop? See--the thing is--they could be lovely. A friend for the future, maybe. A soulmate, even. Someone with a really interesting story to share.

Either way, it`s too late now. But maybe there should be just one day a year where you can deliver a one-liner to someone on the train without worrying about whether it`ll be met with tears, a three hour monologue, or a smack in the teeth. And of have to be ready for the one-liners you`re going to get back.

So OK...let`s pretend that day was yesterday, in London, on the two Tube trains I travelled on, or the mainline trains back home.

1) To the gorgeous four year old girl sitting next to me on the Northern Line in a tartan coat, with a McDonald`s Happy Meal: "I`m starving. I know I`m a complete stranger and you`re not allowed to talk to me...but your mum`s not looking. So can I nick a chip? "

2) To `Jonathan Miller` at Euston underground: (I`m SURE it was him): "Hello. Blimey; you`re Jonathan Miller, aren`t you? I`ve just seen a great picture of you in the Bailey exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Did you like it, too? How great does it feel to be up on the wall with so many other famous faces? you mind people coming up to you on the platform and asking you questions? "

3) To the very sleepy bloke on the train somewhere near Goodge Street, with a backpack and a Sombrero: "What`s that for, then? It`s pissing down outside. Hold up--you`re not just back from Mexico or something, are you? Tell me you didn`t buy that as a gift..."

4) To the parents of three kids travelling from Euston: "Sounds like you`ve had a brilliant weekend. You look knackered. Has your little lad been playing up a bit? You`re really worrying about what other passengers think. But he looks so bright and lively.And some of his comments have really brightened my journey. You look like a lovely family "

5) To the young woman with an orange coat. "Please, please...for the love of God, stop sniffing."

OK. *Adopts brace position *. Your turn.

Happy travelling :)


I once asked a crowd of rowdy Irish rugby fans for a can of their lager. 👍

My brother met his wife after speaking to her on a train so you never know what might happen!

I'm always wishing I'd said something. One should of grown out of being shy at my age surely ?!!

": Strangers on a train. Ever wish you'd said hello? "

 and  retweeted you

": Strangers on a train. Ever wish you'd said hello? " Great blog really enjoyed reading this & others

Thursday 6 February 2014

A Baked Alaska day

You`ve eaten Baked Alaska, right?

You get icy ice cream and sponge, surround it with meringue, and shove it in the cooker. Crazy, but true.The ice cream has to emerge still icy and firm, even though it`s surrounded by piping hot (yet soft) meringue. A moment too long in the oven and it`s game over, basically. Get it right, though, and it`s sweet, and memorable.

I realised some time ago that you can have Baked Alaska days, too. The cold, ice creamy bits are those chilling or depressing experiences that can stop you in your tracks. Bad news, maybe. A cruel word. But then something happens on that same day: a gesture or a show of affection which warms and comforts you, so that, looking back, it`s all good.

Yesterday was pure Baked Alaska.

It started at Dad`s house. He`s in bed 24/7 now as his Alzheimer`s marches on. He needs help with everything. I love to see him, but it breaks my heart every time. I help to feed him but I always want to cry and sometimes do, standing beside this once strapping, now frail former royal bodyguard, as he waits meekly for the next spoonful.

Anyway, my sister and I popped in to see him at breakfast time because we were going out for the day, leaving him at home with his partner and his visiting carer. We were going to the funeral of a dear uncle, our late mum`s brother. Dad had known him well for many years.Vic was the same age as Dad, and died after a long struggle with ....Alzheimer`s. Dad didn`t ask why we were dressed in black, or where we were off to. And we didn`t say.

Your first glimpse of the coffin at a funeral is always the worst bit, isn`t it--your unwitting gasp; the sight of the people who are feeling the loss most painfully.The moment of farewell can be chilling. Numbing.

And somehow, even funeral days can improve as the minutes tick by. Hearty renditions of `Love Divine...`. Loving tributes. Shared memories. Warm hugs with dear family members you haven`t seen for ages.Yes, and a stiff drink can help. I`ve said before that you can`t choose your family, but if you could, this is the one that I`d choose. From baby Alex, to a dear Aunt who`s nearly ninety; we`d come to say goodbye to Vic, and hello again to each other; refreshing that common bond; and the unspoken understanding that we`re there for each other, and proud of each other.There were tears, and some uproarious laughter too. And out of the blue, Ted, an elderly relative I`d never met, whose stories were vital new pieces in the family history jigsaw.

So...a day with sadness, and the cold, hard reality of loss. And wrapped around it, the love of a special family, as cosy and comforting as a warm blanket in winter.