I wonder why
it is that I always feel inspired to write when I'm on a plane,
train or some other form of public
transport? I suppose it could
be due to the lack of anything else to do with my time. Having said
that though I can actually do all manner of things on this laptop
(a 12" PowerBook G4 for those who might be interested) from
watching a movie to creating one!
Actually I quite like watching movies on my laptop because the
show off part of me thinks that's cool. I plug in some headphones
and viola! I have my very own 'in-flight' entertainment. All things
considered though, it's probably better not to be flash.
Unlike those people with polymorphic mobile
phone ring tones or
whatever they are called! How annoying are they! I mean at what
point does it seem like a good idea to a have a full on CD quality
second hand rendition of some music as a ring tone? Those are probably
more annoying than the 'usual' chirpy tunes annoying remastered
into ring tones.
So anyway, I am on a train.
Okay, let me see. What shall I say. What shall I comment on? Hmm,
I could say that I feel there is a better class of trolley
dolly on a plane, but that wouldn't be very 'PC' now would it? I shouldn't
be so shallow should I? I'm sure this balding guy is a real
catch in his own unique way! And after all, he isn't really a 'trolley
dolly' anyway. He's the guy who clips tickets and... err... well,
I think that is all he does?
So where am I? Nuneaton apparently. We just passed a house that
looked like the kind of place that attracts dawn raids by the
home Gordo!" was scrawled in paint above the
front door presumably by a decorator friend who perhaps found
himself without a pen and paper? My first impressions of Nuneaton
have now been somewhat tarnished. I'm
not sure that
run into 'Gordo' or his friend for that matter. I'm sure there
is a lot more to Nuneaton than 'Gordo' and his mates though.
There goes our ticket inspector. I've re-titled him now. Calling
him a trolley dolly was a little unfair and completely inaccurate.
He's once again wandering though the train inspecting tickets.
And I was wrong, he's not clipping them. No, our friendly balding
inspector has a thingy whatsit with flashing lights and stuff that
allows him to give each ticket a very official looking rubber
is clearly more to his job than I gave him credit for.
I hope we don't crash! My Mom would say "Simon, don't say
that." As if saying it somehow heightens our chances of disaster.
But the thought does occasionally cross my mind. I feel safer in
a car if only for the seat belt. I mean if we were to hit something
now I'd be wildly flung all over the place and I'm pretty damn sure
it would hurt!
I wish this train had a first class section. The snob in me would
have paid the upgrade fee. However there is no first class section
so my inner snob is here, slumming it with me and the other normal
Orton. That's where we are now. Who thinks of these
names? I had a friend who lived in a place near Manchester called Broadbottom!
Somewhere near Birmingham I am sure I passed a place once
'Licky End' and in Essex I remember a place called Fingringhoe.
I dread to think how those places got their names!
We're going past Fort Dunlop now. I remember passing this place
on the highway when I was a kid. I was in a bus with all my classmates,
heading to an 'adventure holiday' on the Isle of Anglesey in North
Wales. Mr Jeavons, the headmaster of our school, stood up on the
bus and announced to all of us that we needed to look at this huge
building because that's where they made Dunlop tires. It was a landmark
on what had already been a long journey for a young boy from Essex,
so we looked out the window at the big building where they "once
made Dunlop tires". It's one of those memories that stuck in
my mind for no reason, and I'm always reminded of it every time
I drive past it on the M6.
New Street Station. That's where we are now. I've
been here many times in the past. The station
is actually a good reflection of the city
itself in my opinion. It's dirty, big and ugly. Maybe I'm being
unfair, maybe Birmingham has something wonderful to offer the
to be frank, if it has I've yet to learn what that is.
We continue North, passing industrial units, warehouses, factories
and what looks like a place where refrigerators go to die. I've
never seen so many old refrigerators in one place! More factories,
more industrial units. Through Wolverhampton and
under a bridge whereupon Darren has declared
undying love -4- Kelly. Past more warehouses and factories, and
now the 'Night Inn' which looks like the kind of place our old
'Gordo' from Nuneaton would probably enjoy along with Darren and
Kelly no doubt, although the chances of Darren and Kelly still
locked in the kind of passion that makes a man vandalize a bridge
have probably faded much like the paint he used.
The train is bursting at the seams. It's rush hour and there are
people standing in the isle. The heated air is thick with the
of rustling newspapers, conversations and frequent mobile phone
intrusions. I'm one of many people using a laptop, a sign of the
times I suppose. The guy across the table from me catches me
reading the reverse of his newspaper. His phone rings, he answers
it, it's Mike. "Hi Mike".
We're approaching Stafford now. My old friend Mark Dawe went to
University here and lived in a house that backed right on to these
see it as
we slow down to stop at the station. I wonder who lives there now?
A lot of people leave the train and are not replaced. A very trusting
woman in the seat across the isle from me has disappeared leaving
behind her laptop, briefcase, bags and coat.
At a deserted end of one of the platforms two
girls are kissing
each other. At fist I thought it was a guy and a girl, but as our
train began to move off they turned to look at us looking at them.
They laughed, I smiled. I think their youthful exhibition was more
for the thrill of it rather than the sentiment.
It's pitch black outside now and staring into the darkness all
I can see is my refection. With the lack of things to look at
think I might get out the scruffy
paperback I brought along for use
in exactly this kind of situation.
I'm not really much of a book reader, I never have been. But I
have just one chapter left to read and it'll be good to finish it,
although unless something enlightening happens in the final pages
I shall remain blissfully unaware of what the heck it was all about.
I don't mind though, I've enjoyed reading it.
Crewe station. The train loses nearly all it's passengers. A tattooed
man and an old lady board. Fate rather than friendship looks like
it has momentarily united this unlikely couple. They're talking
loudly in broad Liverpool accents, the kind of non-conversation
you have with passing strangers. Eventually we pull away from the
station and their conversation fades into the noise of the train
it clatters over the tracks below us. The train is colder now with
fewer people aboard and I haven't seen our friendly ticket inspector
in a long while now.
Runcorn. The train stops at the barely inhabited station. No one
gets off, no one gets on. We continue.
Next stop, Mossley Hill. I've waited for trains myself at this
very station. Actually as coincidence would have it, the train
used to catch was probably this one. I remember how relieved
I used to be when it arrived. At this
time of a winters evening the trains are infrequent and
the dimly lit platforms emanate the feeling you get when watching
horror movie knowing that the next scene is surely going to be
gruesome in some way.
Outside I can now see into the windows of old terrace houses built
bone rattlingly close to the tracks. I see a lady washing dishes
at her own reflection in the window, a couple sitting in front
of the obvious glow of a television and a man painting a bathroom
I see a boy sitting on a top bunk playing some video game, a few
more people watching TV, someone working on a PC in a small upstairs
room and a huge poster on a bedroom wall of a beautiful sunset
that could be a lifetime from here.
We're passing a park and a few local shops with teenagers hanging
around scaring older people who probably think that this used to
nicer area at one time and that the youth of today have no respect.
are some tennis courts lit so brightly you would swear that these
must be visible from space. More houses, a gas station, a run
old Church that could very well do with being touched by the hand
of God, and a double decker bus with barely enough passengers to
worthwhile. Everywhere seems quiet, people are at home now I suppose.
The train slowly rolls into Liverpool Lime Street station. The
doors and leave, disappearing into the orange tungsten
glow of a cities dark hours. The train stands still, it's not
going any further, this is the end of the line, the end of this
journey and I suppose the end of this meanwhile.
I'll be home shortly.