Paris Portingale

About Paris Portingale

Paris Portingale is a writer and dog owner. While having a somewhat indifferent attitude towards abstemious self-restraint, he does follow the safe guidelines of four standard drinks a day, although his standards are a great deal higher than most, certainly the medical profession’s. Paris is visited often in the night by God, and the meetings are anything but pleasant.

The quiet carriage: The sound of silent discrimination

Approx Reading Time-10In the quiet carriage, no one can hear you scream. But all is well…save for the klaxon of discrimination blasting elsewhere: #BusPeopleNeedQuietToo


A lot of trains in NSW have quiet carriages.

They’re a good idea.

You find you don’t have to say, “God almighty, will you please shut the fuck up for Christ’s sake,” all that often.

There’s an etiquette to the quiet carriage. There’s no talking at all for a start. There’s no rabbiting on and on endlessly like a moron, about something they had on special in Coles for $7.95 so you bought five dozen packs, packs of 24, and then came back half an hour later and bought the rest of the stock because they were so fucking cheap. Only a moron would buy 1,000 years’ supply of self-soaping scourers and then actually talk about it, on a train, loudly enough for the other six hundred thousand people to hear, because those things can get pretty crowded around peak hour. Not that the rail authority cares, but they did give us quiet carriages so maybe we can probably forgive them on that one.

So, we’ve got trains with a quiet carriage. I suppose it would be too much to ask for quiet trains, like where the whole thing is just quiet carriages. A silent train. Then we wouldn’t have to fuck about finding the quiet carriage, which is often difficult because you can’t hear it.

And what about quiet buses? Why are bus commuters being discriminated against? Bus travellers are people too, they’re human beings just like everybody else. What’s so good about the train people that they get special privileges. Special quiet carriages. Why are the train people singled out for special treatment? Eh? Why is that?

And if anything, buses are worse. The seats are tiny, there’s no room, everyone’s cramped together, people are practically sitting on top of one another. Train carriages are spacious and airy, there’s room to spread out, arrange your stuff around you. You can move about, take a stroll, pop in on friends in other carriages. In a lot of cases, there’s a buffet car. There’s even, dare I say it, a quiet carriage. A special quiet carriage where you can relax and have a sleep. Very nice for the train people. It’s like apartheid in South Africa. Where is the bus people’s Nelson Mandela? Their Mahatma Gandhi, their Martin Luther King Jr?

When will they be able to move on up, and be able to tell people to shut up?


Anyway, they’ve got quiet carriages. The train people. No talking, no singing, no playing music. Don’t bother taking your cello into a quiet carriage, you won’t be allowed to play it. No running about shouting, “Aliens are stealing my thoughts.” No standing on the seats doing bits from Macbeth. You can’t eat a sandwich, they’ll take it off you, the other quiet carriage people, even if you’re chewing with your mouth closed. They’re quiet, but they’re a bit restrictive. But I suppose, like coins, they’ve got two sides and you have to take the heads with the tales, the ups with the downs.

I’ve only been in a quiet carriage once. They watched me as I came in, the other quiet carriage people. Suspiciously. It was like walking into a cage of lions. They’d all been fed, but you could see in their eyes that at any moment, for whatever reason, you could be pulled down and savaged.

It was a frightening experience, and I can tell you this, I won’t be doing it again.

In a quiet carriage, no one can hear you scream.


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