Conversation on a train

On a quiet train from Doncaster to York, three girls are sitting at a table a short way up the carriage from me.  Across the aisle, their mothers (one southern, one northern) sit at a separate table.  They are most likely a family group, off to York for a holiday.  The girls, probably cousins, I decide, are consulting a Heat-style magazine, with the two older girls - probably about 11 or 12 - analysing the images before them, presumably of female celebrities.  Girl 1 seems to be the more forceful personality, with Girl 2 a bit more acquiescent.  Ostensibly I'm reading the paper, but find myself unable to resist transcribing some of what I overhear.


GIRL 1:  "I don't like what she's done with matching those clothes."
GIRL 2:  "Yes. Too matchy."
GIRL 1:  "No, they don't match at all."

[A moment later.]

GIRL 2:  "I love that outfit!"
GIRL 1:  "Yes, I hate the colour. It just doesn't suit her."

Just as I wonder whether the modern media is encouraging judgmentalism in a new generation, or whether it is simply a new form of an old hobby - talking about other people - the girls reveal a self-awareness that, unkindly, I hadn't credited them with.

GIRL 1 [with bemusement]:  "On this page they tell you to lose weight and then on the next page there's a recipe for delicious chocolate cookies. Do they want us to lose weight or put it on?"
GIRL 2:  "They want us to stay the same."
GIRL 1 [laughing, and putting on an advertizing jingle voice]:  "Lose two pounds! Then put it straight back on!"

[They giggle among themselves for a while, and then one of the mothers realizes that the girls have eaten the entire box of chocolate brownies she'd given them, and they are told off.  After a period of awkward silence, they return to the magazine.]

GIRL 2:  "Ooh, puzzles. I love puzzles!"
[They begin the crossword.]
GIRL 1:  "What would 'seats of learning' be, Mum?"
MOTHER:  "Desk."
GIRL 1:  "It's seven letters."
MOTHER:  "Desktop."
[There is a pause whilst the two girls consider this.]
GIRL 2:  "No, wouldn't it be 'schools'?"

Satisfied that all is well with the world, and that every generation is both the same as the previous one, and utterly different, I return to reading the paper.
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