Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Brief Encounter

Frankly, I'm happy that it takes quite a while to get to Manchester and other places Up North. I suspect quite a lot of those Up North are glad that in time and distance they are some way away from the Big Smoke.

I love trains, I love their romance. I love the sight of a train thundering over a bridge or plunging into a tunnel - especially if white steam and smoke is billowing out of the chimney stack.

I love riding a train. Being taken somewhere, inexorably heading towards a destination fixed by some Victorian engineer, yet with the possibility of changing trains when the mood takes me: ending up - who knows where.

Films love trains. All life can be acted out between the start and end of a train journey. Stations echo to the whispers of lovers parting, parents waving and soldiers departing.

Trains carrying you along, they're a metaphor for life. You hurtle from one great terminus to another, or maybe you chug gentle from one railway halt to the next picking up the mail and fellow passengers.

Trains, the railways, the stations - inspire poets. The scene seen through that window, trees, fields,  some drama fleetingly glimpsed as you slip through the station. Patient motorists chomping at the bit as the railway crossing lights flash danger and the rush of steam engulfs the signal box.

Is anything more delicate, more achingly invoking than "Adlestrop": in Edward Thomas' lines is an Edwardian summer conjured marvellous. Auden's "The Night Mail" transporting us across the border and through the night, dreams, promises and disappointments are pigeon holed as the towns and villages sleep unawares.

Dear John Betjemin, at Baker Street Station Buffet evokes the opening up of Middlesex and Metro - land. Whose championing of Victorian Gothic and St Pancras station is marked with a delightful statue in that station's forecourt. And Sigfried Sasson's "Morning Express" - brings back the Great War obliquely then: now obscured by time, Beeching and the rush for modernity.

I love trains, so why am I not rejoicing at our second Brunel like endeavour to bridge the North-South divide?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Think about, in your dotage you will be able to go on day trips to view the splendour of Manchester town hall, take a ferry across the Mersey and take in the Leeds art gallery. Did John Betjeman ever go further than the Metropolitan line?

Marginalia said...

"Ferry cross the Mersey", what a crap song.

Betjeman was an inveterate train traveler - he wrote many delight poems about trains and train journeys.

Anonymous said...

As a southerner you are prob more of a Dave Clark 5 guy!

Steve said...

I love being a passenger - the act of being inbetween places and not having any responsibility for getting anywhere. Trains are a lovely pastime. As for the North-South thing... maybe you just like the divide and need to man the barricades?

Marginalia said...

Dear Anon, more Muswell Hill and the Kinks.

Dear Steve, you old romantic you!

Big John said...

Runaway Train would be more apt than these beat numbers.

Marginalia said...

Dear BJ, ah memories...of Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites

The Sagittarian said...

POssibly the thought of train food??

Marginalia said...

Dear Sag, it is pretty awful isn't it.

Dr Beeching said...

Trains? I thought I had got rid of those noisy smelly things years ago. All this romantic tosh about choos and choos and that Thomas the Tank Engine nonsense. The open road is the way forward for the future.

Marginalia said...

Dear Dr Beeching, for an intelligent man you can up with a disastrous plan.

RubberCrutch said...

Sagittarian: train food? Forget that mess. Why do you think God created train booze?

I envy you people from the civilized world who have train service that doesn't suck rocks. I agree with Steve: the complete lack of care is a huge benefit to me. Little problem with connections or security, either.

The one problem with train travel is that you may wind up running into Paulie's grandpapa who, if you recall, was a real king mixer.

Marginalia said...

Dear RubberClutch, it's a great way to murder your wife. You meet the most obliging people on the train.