Did you know that by lexicographer’s tradition, the word ‘gullible’ does not appear in any dictionary?

Fun things to do on trains: add a little wonderment to people’s lives by pretending to be someone you’re not.

Was on the train last night, trundling out southwest. Next to me sat one of those ‘hot but brainless’ girls you see on American sitcoms – all blonde hair and teeth. She noticed I was reading a startup financing case study (presumably by the Dubya method, i.e. “I knew it was a budget, there were lots of numbers in it”) and asked if I worked for an investment company. We chatted for a bit, then came the obvious question:

“You must be rich then!”

“Well, actually I worked for a big startup a few years ago, and made some money during the dotcom boom. But I spent it all on a trip to Russia’s Skylab space station!”

(Somehow I kept a totally serious face – then, when it cracked into a smile, I passed it off as happy memories.) “It was the greatest experience of my life… I’d always wanted to travel into space…”

“Wow! That’s amazing! How much did it cost? Must have been millions!”

“Well, they let me pay in shares – it was about £20m, but I never actually had the cash in my pocket or anything. The share price collapsed a bit later, so technically I got my holiday in space almost free!”

She gasped. “Oh god, I remember reading about some startup guy who went into space for £20m! That was you?”

“Yes, that was me, about three years ago. It was an amazing experience! Look, I’ll show you some pics.”

Now, on my PDA there are some shots of me in a skydiving wind tunnel, including the one attached. She gasped again – on some of the pics my face is visible, so it’s obviously me in that ‘zero gravity environment’. (It’s less obvious that there’s a 120mph wind keeping you aloft.) I continue extemporising:

“Most interesting thing here is this guy in the black helmet. Apparently he was a member of the Russian secret service, and he wasn’t allowed to take off his helmet in case I recognised him in later life. He never took off the helmet in three whole days!”

She pauses for thought, and out comes the revelation: “So, maybe they didn’t want you to see his face! I bet that helmet had lots of electronics inside it so he could look out the window and spy on ordinary Americans sleeping in their beds!” (Yes, she actually says this.)

“And you see the yellow strips on either side of my spacesuit? They’re actually Velcro – you have to stick yourself to the walls when you eat or work, to make sure you don’t cannon off the walls.”

“Wow! So what is it like, just floating around weightless like that? It must be fun! Did you feel sick? Oh my god, I’m going to tell my mom that I’ve met an astronaut guy!!”

I like to make everyone’s day a little more exciting.

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