I travelled back from Chippenham by train today and have to say it was a delight. I think I really would love to be a travel writer, albeit an alternative one. There is something so emotive about listening to the destinations on the Great Western, Penzance, Truro and Exeter to name a few. Looking out along an empty pair of rails, no congestion and no spaghetti of overhead wires, leading off into the Southern most depths of the country.
This is diesel country, billowing smoke these industrious beasts ply their trade. Worn coaches and aged equipment don’t prevent full catering facilities accompanying those that travel from the furthest southwest. Theses are not commuters hardened to a way of life and the drudgery of travel. This is destination travel, holidays, visits and experiences.As much as the railway forms so many childhood memories the smell of diesel must surely be the gold plating. Little faces excited by discovering the city of London pass equally excited faces eager to build sand castles and explore rock pools.
For me, with life on pause, it is all that I can do to complete the journey. Whilst waiting for my train I am fighting the urge to divert to Cornwall and explore. Do I really need the Paddington service or could I slip onto the St Austell one? As we roar along the track I fall repeatedly in love with the idyllic scenes laid out alongside me. Each and every one of these would present an opportunity to restart life in a country idyll. If I depart mid route could I not join that lazy river on a barge and never look back or perhaps set up home somewhere on those rolling hills.
It seems that even the rolling stock itself is teasing me to another world. As I recall fondly the BR double arrows and smile at the modifications that have been shoehorned into the aging HST fleet. As we speed closer to London it seems that the world changes. Construction and congestion tell me that we are approaching the capital and, in some strange way, normality. Here comes the routine, the things that we have to do but also the things that bind us. I read an excellent passage in a book today. The character was looking at a yacht on a mooring and wondering why he didn’t sail off and explore the world. The logic of the character was that whilst he had travelled the world he had never explored. How strange that at some times in our lives some things speak to us so clearly
Public transport remains the gift that keeps on giving and here are two gems from today. First I present the sticker applied to my Hammersmith and City train. The sticker depicted a police officer and a helicopter under the banner of the British Transport police. Is it only me that looks at this and gets a childish smile. How James Bond would that be? To call the police on a subway and get a helicopter response?
The second is a crossover between trains and obesity. The rather oversize woman who sat opposite me opened a tub of small crackers. You know the sort of things, small dime sized salted crackers in a plastic tub with a screw top lid. I think she was confused regarding the relationship between calories and exercise, perhaps that explains the extra mass. My reason for asserting the confusion? Well every time that she wanted a cracker she unscrewed and removed the lid, selected a cracker, placed it on her lap and replaced the lid. I understand that this is often suggested as a diet tip because it makes you contemplate every bite, perhaps this was her plan. The flaw in her plan was that whilst her right hand repeated the ritual her left hand kept feeding her face. It was such a sight to witness, almost as if her right hand was surprised that the cracker had disappeared and so repeated the ritual to replace it. I swear that she didn’t look at what her hands were doing once, it was like the hands were two independent minds competing with each other.