{04/03/2012}   Drawing inspiration from a train journey

My state of alertness as at 8am sitting on a train is matched by this morning’s weather: daylight for about an hour but no sun to be seen. Fog and drizzle with the promise of brightening up.

I started writing this with no idea what to write about. I am looking out the train window and I am amazed at how many thoughts and ideas come to me.

It’s so dull that initially everything seemed bleugh, then I noticed the green grass. Green reminded me that it’s tantalisingly close to being full-on spring, which reminded me of the masses of crocuses that I was admiring on my way to the station. That, bizarrely, got me thinking about naming paints. “Crocus white” would have a very subtle hint of deep purple. “Crocus yellow” is not quite “Egg yolk”, it’s a really rich, sun shine type yellow. Which brought me to the lamentable fact that with all this lovely springness there is no sun today.

At Ashford station, where we’ve just stopped, there is a Pumpkin cafe. I have a Pumpkin loyalty card but I am not loyal because the one coffee I had from there was distressing in its uncoffeeness. I had a coffee before I came out, I’m glad I did because I don’t need to wonder if the coffee were perhaps better than I remember it being, thus don’t need to be trying to get wafts from the coffee cup clutched in someone’s hand in this carriage.

Weeeeeee, the train is accelerating. I always expect g-force but it’s always a little bit of a damp squib. I miss riding a motorbike, that could accelerate properly and leave most cars for dust. Oh well, I can see the motorway now so my speed thrills come merely from seeing how much slower cars are going than I’m currently going.

Still dull, what loveliness and inspiration can I draw? *big pause* Trees, farms, oast houses … I know two sets of people who live in oast houses. I used to be very excited about the concept of round rooms, but I now see they are expensive to furnish and heat and there is a chance there will be no windows. I once got a boat from Harwich to Holland. My friend and I had a double bunk cabin with no windows. At first I thought I would be claustrophobic but I got into my jim jams, climbed into my top bunk bed and fell into a memorably deep sleep until shortly before we docked. I once caught the sleeper train from London to Edinburgh. That was a mistake. I may’ve nodded off every now and then but the bed was too narrow and short, the train stops and jolts all the way up and there are lots of unexpected noises. Dreadful. Then I got to Edinburgh in the early hours feeling distinctly fog-with-no-chance-of-sunshine and worked for the day.

Crossing the River Medway near Rochester. A few years ago, while there was quite thick snow around, I’d had to drive from Whitstable to London. As I was driving over the M2 Medway crossing bridge, a high speed train (the route and direction I’m in) overtook. I had a real Polar Express moment because the train, as it was getting onto the bridge, had whipped up curls of snow which were billowing next to the train. A friend and I went to see Polar Express in 3D at the iMax in London whatever year it came out (I have seen that film quite a lot more than you might expect for someone who doesn’t have children!). For those of you who haven’t seen it, the key things to understand for this little memory recall are that it’s a train and trains make a distinctive noise when moving slowly (pushty coff, pushty coff!) and that if you believe in Father Christmas, you can hear the sleigh bells, and the little boy who doesn’t believe in Father Christmas says, “I believe”, and does believe, and then he hears the sleigh bells. So my friend and I watched the film, then went for a drink in the South Bank Centre, right by the overhead rail bridge between Waterloo East and Charing Cross. A train pulled in slowly and you could hear the track noise, a distinctive train noise, the slow clunking. We continued talking. Then we heard a bell, from where or why I do not know or care, and at the same time we virtually shouted out in chorus, “I believe!”


So you still go weeee on the bullet train eh?

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