Every Friday, CasinoBeats is thinking out loud

RETURNING from London on late train, CB is in reflective mood. Not just because moving through space and time can often present unexpected opportunities to stop and think, but also because CB is seated facing the mirrored glass side of a luggage rack.

Trying to avoid eye contact with a reflected someone who looks distinctly like CB’s dad, it remains an opportunity to take stock. Perhaps it is the melting pot of public transport where worlds briefly overlap and intertwine in the shared pursuit of a common goal (to get home before the kids go to sleep). Maybe it is the sight of travellers that have laid out more than £100 to spend two hours sitting on the floor next to the toilets or perhaps it’s that unmistakable train smell.

Whatever the reason, there is a rare opportunity to draw breath and to think. CB has been in London at SBC Towers in the capital’s leafy west, detailing plans for 2019 and beyond. Considering how the brand will grow into its second year and how we can offer readers and partners more of what they want.

The introspection is shattered by a torturous trip to the toilet, over strewn limbs in the vestibule and comforted not one bit by Virgin Trains’ well meaning but unsettling toilet assistant voiceover. Picking a path back through weary, dazed commuters, who lie about like casualties on a battlefield, CB stops at the cafe for something wholesome as an antidote to the train’s sweaty fog. The thick end of one pound is rewarded with an apple from the refrigerator that is almost too cold to hold, let alone eat.

There’s surely not as much business being done in Coach D’s canteen as the attendant had hoped when she earlier teased the train with talk of an exciting new coffee blend. Supporting a charitable cause in a way that Virgin is very adept at doing, the walking wounded of the 1900 from Euston to Manchester were invited to sample a new flat white. All proceeds, we were reliably informed, would go to a charity that seeks to take young people off the streets to “train them as barristers”.

Received wisdom among the crowded aisles of the Pendolino is that these young people would in fact likely be trained as baristas rather than selected to go to university, enter the legal profession and ultimately “take the Bar”.

The mispronunciation and the smattering of laughter that follows is welcome relief and camaraderie builds. CB chats to the adjacent passenger. Galvanised by the indomitable Blitz spirit, much is shared. She is a television producer who spends most of her week in London, despite being based in the North West. The shows she has worked on have won Emmys. It’s CB’s turn to share and, perhaps aware of a comparative lack of glamour, as a fellow journalist the producer is sympathetic to the challenges facing a media start-up.

Setting out CasinoBeats’ journey to date, referencing the climb in website traffic, the first CasinoBeats Summit, the forthcoming awards and the ambitious plans for 2019 – discussed that very afternoon at SBC Acres in Putney – CB is suddenly aware that it represents a solid first 10 months for a new brand in a crowded space. It’s a good story, so far.

TV Producer seems satisfied that things are going alright at CasinoBeats. Work tales exchanged, the conversation moves on to the serious business of debating whether we could auction our precious seats on eBay and if the frozen apple will ever be warm enough to eat.

Long after the conversation is over and CB is in the car park trying to remember what its car looks like, the lesson lingers. Sometimes it’s more important than one realises to cross to the sunny side of the street or to stop and saviour the moment.

Even amid the swirling near-madness of everyday life, it’s worth finding a few minutes to reflect on the achievements, when they come, and of course on the work yet to do.