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  • Christina Fotinelli

Dear Seat 38, Coach J,

Every weekday Darius Motabbit takes the 07:13 from Bath Spa to London Paddington and returns on the 17:30. In the decade that he has travelled this route he has had three jobs, one promotion, one demotion and has experienced the death of his Dad, a flood in his basement, a cancer scare, occasional bloating and pretty regular arrhythmia. But in the 34,780 miles he has travelled, on all his journeys, he has never come across anyone as beautiful the creature that sat opposite him one fateful Tuesday. He tried to strike up a conversation but when he opened his mouth all that emerged was a frightening wheezing sound. She stood up to go as the train pulled into Didcot Parkway. Darius leapt up up to help her with her things. Unfortunately the passing refreshment trolley blocked his exit and the driver choose just that moment to brake – so Darius’ gallant gesture was reduced to a comical lurch followed by an excruciatingly lopsided plonk downwards as his knees buckled and his bum landed squarely on the armrest. The smirking rail attendant stood his ground and Darius was left staring as she walked away.

Dear Seat 38, Coach J,

Five months ago, on Tuesday the 26th of September 2023, I boarded the 17:30 train for Bristol Temple Meads at London Paddington, as clockwork, for my daily commute home and my life was forever changed.


I’ve travelled this route approximately 370 times in the past 10 years and I have never encountered you. This leads me to surmise - in order of high hopes that I may find you again to abysmal hopelessness that you are lost to me forever - that a) you are a regular on this train but you sit elsewhere b) you are a regular on this route but not this particular service c) you occasionally travel this route and have no fixed seating preference d) you were on this route at this time just once – probably for some trite errand for work - and our encounter was a fleeting never to be repeated moment. Though the odds are not in my favour that single moment was all I needed to know that I had found my one true love.

Cupid's Arrow

Though you only glanced my way a few times I felt an electrifying current each time our eyes locked. When you asked the conductor if there was a free seat anywhere else on the packed train I knew you were showing me that your heart will not be won by a spritzer down the pub. You expect a man to prove his love and win you with his determination. 

One Whiff of your Pheromones was All it Took

  Are you a Kylie fan? Her song Love at First Sight played like an anthem in my head when I first saw you. My heart thumped along to the beat. The lyrics were written for us.

But I digress. After you disembarked at Chippenham and that dastardly attendant moved his trolley I dove into your seat, drank the dregs from your discarded coffee cup (you really shouldn't litter, darling) and inhaled your scent – L’Air Du Temps mixed with a whiff of sourness, possibly sweat from a busy day and low quality, non-breathable polyester silk blend; a classic feminine aroma that ignited my passion even more.

Miles and Miles and Miles for Love

For weeks I searched in vain for you, I rode my usual route, plus the 7:43 and the 18:01 in case you had taken an earlier or later train searching.


I quit my job because scouring train carriages for one's true love can be very time consuming. Bills are piling up but I’m up-skilling to become a conductor on GWR to maximise my chances of finding you.


I tried ‘Rush Hour Crush' and I am now resorting to more inspired (or desperate) measures – depending on how you choose to look at it.

Is it You?

If you are reading this letter and you are not a 5ft4inch brunette, greying at the temples, classic English pear shape with brown eyes, a slightly wonky nose and are partial to a smelly tuna sandwich and cheddar & onion crisps please put the letter back on the seat where you found it. Photocopies are expensive and not environmentally friendly.

If it is you my darling, do not tarry. I’ve set up an email address because there are a lot of weirdos out there and you can never be too careful about sharing your personal information


Our future awaits.



Darius (the besotted bloke in Seat 37)

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