Striking up a conversation with the person sitting next you at the beginning of a long journey can be a risky business. I believe everyone has at least one good story. But maybe the chances of it coming out during a casual conversation on a bus, train or plane are slim. Most often the conversation dies out to the embarrassment of both parties. Many people seem to forestall conversation by putting on headphones almost as soon as they sit down. That's not to say I haven't got lucky a couple of times. Once the Australian woman next to me turned out to be the sister of a girl I was at high school with. When their parents split, one girl stayed in Australia with her mum while the other returned to Scotland with her dad. Another time the guy next to me worked with a former colleague of mine. Sadly my seat mate was flying to Scotland to be at his Dad's deathbed. And there was the rail journey to Inverness. For some reason the carriages were the old fashioned compartments with four seats facing each other and a long narrow corridor down one side, or perhaps doors opening directly out onto the platform . I deliberately didn't start up a conversation with the only other occupant of the compartment until we were only half an hour, 45 minutes, from Inverness. What a mistake. The guy was incredibly interesting and amusing. I have no doubt he would have been incredibly interesting and amusing from the moment we left Edinburgh or Glasgow, I forget which.