The Curse of the Window Blinds

Those Who Would Be Cocooned – November 2015
It happens all over Europe. The moment there’s a bit of sunshine, people on trains pull down the window blinds. And quite often even when there isn’t any sunshine. Close off the world they say, position me in my own blinkered bubble.
This Trenitalia Freccia Bianca is just pulling into Bologna Centrale, hence the turnover of passengers.
It’s worse in standard class than in first. In first the people tend to be more self-confident and sanguine.
Japanese tourists are especially bad for it. I don’t know why it is. Do Japanese not sleep well in their hotel beds and so take the opportunity for a kip the moment they get on a train? I can sympathise a bit as I too find it for the most part easier to nod off in a chair than I do lying down, but not on a train; not when there is an ever-changing world to see passing by the window. Strange, really, that a tourist would make a deliberate choice to see nothing. Though maybe not so strange, when one thinks about it.
And what are the people missing? All manner of things, for example on this train travelling at just under 300kph between Torino and Milano in Italy, the posts on the barriers flash by in an intriguingly psychedelic fashion. This photo was shot at 1/4000th of a second.
And African women! When on a train, a good tip is to avoid sitting near an African woman. She’ll pull down the window blinds and you won’t be able to see nuffing.
And children. Certain types of children. Some don’t bother, but others, typically those who have a hood on their jumper and want to pull that up too, who tend to stay with their juvenile uncertainty well into their twenties; and those children who have been encouraged by their scarlet-finger-nailed mother that they should get their own way, and who want to demonstrate that to all around – these too are inveterate blind-pullers.
One can have sympathy, perhaps a little, for someone who is working on their laptop, as bright sunlight can make the screen hard to read. This’ll be one reason why blind-pulling is more prevalent in standard class than second, for laptop use is more prevalent there too.
In the same way that little plastic blocks have been invented that prevent selfish people from pushing their seat right back on aeroplanes, so there could be something similar for window blinds. I think a pencil might do it on some trains.
Or better still, not to have any window blinds at all. After all you don’t get them on cars, so why on a train? And they don’t exist on most suburban trains, what’s so different about long-distance?
I suppose it’ll be that the first company to introduce an open-to-the-world train will get complaints from the hiders and hooded, and they won’t like that at all.


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