22 April 2006

Notes to self

Don’t tip-toe through life only to arrive at death's door
Perfection is unattainable
Advice means love, at least listen to it
Climb more mountains
Shut down the PC and think
Live in colour not B&W
Modification is easier than change
Don’t reply by return, hyper-sensitivity means you need 24 hours to absorb and assess
Whisper, don’t shout
Smile like you mean it
The sea is full of fish
Open your eyes
Words can be weapons
Empty vessels make most sound
Spending and saving are equally valid
A motorcycle throttle works both ways
Others have feelings too
Offer help
Analysis of magic spoils it
Reconsider every single one of your views
You have only ever criticised yourself

02 April 2006

Train Life

I am early and see the scarlet bullet arrive. It slows and disgorges its load of people who were somewhere else and now are here. I take a seat by the window and rest my head back gently to watch as the carriage fills. Humanity boards, hurrying to meet deadlines and lovers.

The whistle shrieks and we roll. Bright steel rails bear the crushing weight of flesh and blood, a precious cargo of sinners and thieves. Our pasts recede with the flashing fields and a future rushes near through county and shire.

Now the train reaches cruising speed. We scorch through tiny stations that timetables forgot. 90mph yet still my retina burns with the brief image of a platform and a scallop-edged canopy, painted magenta and cream. A solitary man with a small brown case stands patiently awaiting his Brief Encounter.

My eye wanders the carriage, absorbing the faces, the hands and the shoes. A loud woman laughs and I gaze at her fat plain features. No one would look twice, I glance at her empty ring finger. A middle-aged businesswoman taps the keys of her notebook then stops and considers the ceiling. Satisfied with her ruminations she resumes tapping. No ring.

I don’t need to be here, I have no reason. Nothing is drawing me, nothing pushing or forcing but I chose to ride the train. Am I going out or coming home? I forget which.

A white-haired man in front is doing Sudoku, I can see through the gap in the seats he has two number sevens on one line and a plantation of nasal hair. His crumbling wife sees neither.

A pretty girl in jeans has stood alongside me, “May I?” she asks pointing to the seat beside me. “Sure.” I reply, shuffling closer to the window. She smiles back and opens her magazine to read about a lifestyle she would like. Over breakfast the same sweet smile had screamed at her boyfriend and told him to rot in hell. I turn away to look at the meadows and trees and happy cows.

We charge through an embankment that is littered with vintage Coca Cola cans, bleached under thirty summer suns. I see fluorescent jackets carrying black sacks, they pick litter with long sticks. Treasures tossed from rolling thunder.

Ahead I see him reach his lumpy rucksack from the rack, a man of slender stature carrying his depression in his father’s old luggage. His face is dry but his tears flow inside, I can tell. As he shuffles by under his crippling load our eyes meet and I nod. He grimaces back. He wears a ring.

We slow through marshalling yards and sidings. My phone vibrates and I withdraw it from my jeans, glance at the message and return it to my pocket. “Yes, I’m nearly there,” I think.

I have not spoken more than a single word to a single soul yet all about me there is chatter and life. Absently I pull the phone back out and switch it off. Now the green pastures are grey walls and white glass and I realise we have stopped. People are queuing in the aisle. Lives in motion, impatient.

“…if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space.” That familiar chiding voice whispers deep inside my head. The whistle shrieks again but I have stayed on the train. I missed my stop, so what!

A new view seeps in my window, new names and signs. New rails steer my present towards a precious future. I haven’t been this way before.