Train of Thought
I remember Adlestrop and all the birds in Gloucestershire.
Some birds they were.
France, you know, they write ‘Fumer
Tue’ on the packets of cigarettes and cigars.
You could add ‘S’ and smoke every Tuesday, if you felt like it.
Banner stamped across discarded fingernail slashed-open fag packets. You’d push past fuming French locals and corner le buraliste in the Tabac with a cheery ‘vingt fumer tue s’il vous plait’ for maximum impact. Made us chuckle.
Platform starts. Shhhh. Sign, sign, sign, sign, sign, sigh. Platform ends.
The stations slide past. How long now? Only an empty chair opposite; impossible to get a time check. The train speeds but the hours drag. No flirt material, nobody to cannon off, nobody to eye up momentarily in the reflective glass every time the locomotive needles a cutting, breasts a bridge or bores through tunnelled earth.
Flick through the paper; uninteresting news at best. The economy. Brink of disaster; banks are an all time low as the Somerset levels drown in a vat of home made cider, no haycocks dry; Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and all those birds drowning. Wading back is as tedious as turning over. Flick. Flick. Station. Flick. Flick.
We’re flying now. Flying? Join the mile high club, form an orderly queue, enter and exit, reeking of detergent. Adjust your flies, check your zip.
Sex on a train, why not? Pitch, roll and yaw; sway your hips to avoid the snapdragon toilet seat from guillotining your manhood. And at the very moment of climax, the rap at the door: ‘Tickets please. Going all the way?’ Well it would have been nice.
Here he comes with his clippie, snippy, metal stampy. Weaving his way; interlacing the seats. Adenoidal announcement: ‘All passengers from Dunchurch, next stop, Adlestrop’. Bolt for the toilets, mate! Scarper, quick! Pretend to be sick! Have a cheeky Fumer Tue, arses clenched, holding the door, fumbled fingers, until the danger has passed.
But it is past.
So instead I shrug the valid ticket over for its third inspection and scan the crossword for ironic clues, bereft of forgotten chuckles in the loos.
This time he waits, though, perhaps for the first time clocking two scarves bannering down from the rack. He frowns a scowl at the contrary empty seat and mutters: ‘
The game is it?’
Yes - always