I had a useful conversation with a member of staff at Coventry Station on Friday evening; I thought I might share the gist of it with you as you might find it helpful. Usually I manage to use trains ok, as long I’m not hemmed in and there’s enough space around me, so that equates to a seat for me and a seat for my bag and for me to sit in a seat that’s facing another front ways, like there’s a table in front of me. My tics are triggered by crowds, so when I’m out and about I tic more, more people, more tics simples, so the worst situation to put me in is a crowded train where there’s nowhere to sit, I also tic more when standing up, this is almost bearable say for a fairly short journey like Birmingham to Coventry, but it’s tough, constantly ticcing, coprolalia at full pelt, motor tics a plenty and an urges overload, urges that involve knocking off people’s hats (I certainly wouldn’t be too happy if someone knocked my hat off) poking people in the back and the worst : a gentle grope of gentlemen’s meat and two veg, certainly if a stranger was to say have a little feel of my breasts he would certainly be feeling my wrath at the very least. I’d like to keep my CRB certificate clean thanks. Apart from trying to overcome these demons I’m sweating, feeing sick and dizzy and wishing I could sit down. Luckily my trip back from London wasn’t as traumatic as I did have a seat, but it was quite cramped 4 facing seats occupied by myself, another fairly petite woman, two big men and several bags. This is enough to induce a tic fest including the almost constant twisting of my head until it cracks (painful) luckily those around me weren’t too bothered about the coprolalia which often has the ability to either amuse or disgust fellow travellers. Throughout my journey though I did toy with the idea of escaping to the almost empty 1st class area, the arguments that I have with myself make these points –
1. Why should I be any different to any other traveller?
2. The people in 1st class have paid more for their ticket to have peace and quiet, why should I inflict myself upon them, even though I will calm down after a while and be a bit more bearable?
3. As disabilities go Tourette’s isn’t really seen by most as one let alone myself despite being a bit of a walking disaster area, I would hate to inflame some kind of jealousy in my fellow travellers “look at her with Tourette’s, who does she think she is going to sit in 1st class?”
4. It would be more beneficial for me both physically and mentally to sit calmly in 1st class.
However as yet I haven’t plucked up the courage to put myself in 1st class if it’s too crowded.
This brings me back to the guy at Cov Station, I do find it helpful to be friendly towards people in these kinds of jobs as it then proves to them that you do genuinely have Tourette’s syndrome and that actually you’re a nice law-abiding kind of person and if you did spot a bomb you’d speak to him In person rather than shout “BOMB!” or “TALIBAN!” at random bearded Asian men. I put it too him that being as my tics get worse in crowded environments would it be ok to sit in 1st class? “Certainly, that would be fine” he did tell me that London Midland (I did just get off a London Midland train) policy if the train was crowded to let people with standard tickets sit in 1st class and that if somebody is feeling unwell the conductor would put them in 1st class and that I should have done anyway and that particular conductor was “good like that being a Cov lad” .So that’s good news, I will remember that, rather than ticcing like goodness knows what banging my head against the posts and generally feeling awful I will sit in the 1st class. But girls and boys, this is just the policy for London Midland, that’s the green and grey trains that run from London Euston and Birmingham New Street, (see picture) in my experience Virgin conductors aren’t as nice.