Dave King comments here two days ago on train conversations. He says that he would be more disposed to talk to someone who opened a conversation as he sat down. But he wasn't sure why.
I'm not sure either, but I think it has something to do with spontaneity. It seems more natural and uncalculating than a pondered approach after exchanged glances and clearings of the the throat. Having witnessed my Mother-in-Law at work, I still found her example hard to follow. Only once did I manage it well; and then only after an evening' s drinking, on my way home from London.
I recall walking past the old Blackfriar's Station and noting that, among European destinations embossed above the portal was St Petersberg (at that time still known as Leningrad). I turned right up Fleet Street and made my way down the Strand to Charing Cross, still full of good cheer. On entering the compartment of the train I was struck by a sense of despondency among what were to be my fellow passengers (in those days passengers sat facing one another, a potentially more convivial arrangement than the present aircraft style seating where you look at the back of neck of the person in front of you). The faces were tired and drawn, and most sheltered behind newspapers. As I sat down, I said to the person opposite: "Do you know if this train goes to St Peterberg?" The newspapers rustled, were raised and lowered and raised again. But I was saved: someone smiled. Then someone laughed. The conversation that ensued was lively and varied, touching politics, travel, history and everything was wrong with the world. and one or two things that were right with it. The 50 minute journey home seemed to last five. Or that's how I remember it.
Another day for soup. Finely chopped carrots, celery, green beans, an onion and a clove of garlic softened with two rashers of bacon also chopped. When the vegetables are transparent, chicken stock is added ,and with the stock a chopped skinned tomato; and with the tomato some small pasta shells and a tin of borlotti bean. The rest is a matter of seasoning and tasting until the desired flavour and consistency is achieved. Oh yes, and you should, at this point ,add some slices of sausage from the new Polish shop round the corner. If there isn't a Polish shop round the corner, something from the supermarket will do.