Anyone would have thought he likes to hang around railway platforms complete with anorak, camera and a notebook full of numbers, the way Alistair Darling talks.
According to the transport secretary, when he turns up to a dinner party - or even a wedding - the most banal conversation suddenly turns to the topic of Britain's trains.
Needs rescuing at dinner parties
For him, social gatherings of this sort do not involve an evening with friends, accompanied by laughter, air kisses and the clink of Champagne glasses.
While they certainly do not mean jockeying for position, logbook in hand, comparing locomotive serial numbers, Mr Darling would have us believe his home time is dominated by people banging on about how bad the railways are.
"Hello Darling" is not a chat-up line in silver-haired Alistair's book.
It's usually a precursor to an onslaught about why the trains fail to run on time and how over-crowded they are.
This telling insight into Mr Darling's social life was eased out of the sidings by the big man himself.
It came in the House of Commons when Liberal Democrat spokesman Paul Tyler urged him to explain why the Strategic Rail Authority and the train-operating companies were "burying bad news".
Mr Tyler even likened their communications strategy to that used by Jo Moore, the notorious spin doctor who sent an infamous memo suggesting 11 September was just such a day.
Insulted, Mr Darling insisted that "if there were a policy of attempting to bury bad news on the railways, it has been singularly unsuccessful".
On Saturday night I attended a wedding at which people appeared to speak of little else
"I am more aware than anyone else in the chamber of how much still has to be done to improve the railways," stressed Mr Darling.
"I hear it in the House, I hear it when I am travelling on the train, and I hear it at parties.
"On Saturday night I attended a wedding at which people appeared to speak of little else.
"If my strategy had been to bury bad news, it would have failed - but it is not our strategy."
Father of the House Tam Dalyell, trying to be helpful, suggested another topic that might lighten the chatter at Mr Darling's next social outing.
"Without complicating your Saturday nights, may I draw his attention to a subject that you know a great deal about - the ongoing problems of the Forth rail bridge?
"Will you give an assurance that your department is inquisitive about the future funding of the bridge?"
To this, the convivial Mr Darling replied: "I would be happy to discuss that over a drink with you.
One topic of conversation Mr Darling enjoys
"The Forth rail bridge is having substantial sums spent on it, because it is an important part of the rail infrastructure.
"I see it regularly, for obvious reasons, so you may rest assured that it is never far from my thoughts," says a man who obviously takes his work on his journey home with him.
So for the partygoers out there, a word of advice.
If you happen upon a sincere looking chap with grey hair, dark eyebrows and a bored expression being quizzed about the departure times of the 6pm from Paddington, brighten his day with an intervention .... about the relative merits of an historic cantilever rail bridge.