I have written before about our characterful trains. We have been waiting for our much talked about modern, state of the art trains for a long time. We live in the twilight zone of anticipation worthy of a mysterious shaped parcel under the Christmas tree.
We have new asphalt on our platforms and new shelters and signs. We have big steel structures to hold the new electric lines. Indeed we even have a new track in and out of the main station. It is all very thrilling as we linger in the cold straining for a glimpse of the late arrival of the 7.32.
As we wait for delivery of the sleek carriages, much remains the same at commuter hour. We all run to get a seat. The seat, when found, has bulging upholstery from geriatric springs and a faint odour of mildew. As the square wheels and asthmatic brakes bring the carriages to a stop at each station, we all grab at non-existent handles to prevent being jettisoned into someone’s lap.
Tonight from the expensive seats (the two parallel benches under the windows) I observed an interesting cameo of a country of immigrants. The man to my left was wearing a brown corduroy suit and deerstalker. He had a conversation into an iPhone in a refined Irish brogue, and then started to read a book on the same phone (courtesy of Kindle). The young Pasific woman opposite was reading a book about the Masai, two seats down a Chinese man was reading what looked like neat lecture notes, in Chinese. A middle aged lady in the far corner was deeply engrossed in a romantic novel, the Indian man opposite was checking the football results in the local paper and I was lingering over the memoirs of Manya Hariri. A little literary capsule sucked through the tunnels; a brief clickety clack down a polished track.