Following my venture into descriptive writing Annie told me that she felt as if she was on the beach with me after the crowds had left. If you are just starting on a new track (in this case, pun intentional) that is the sort of encouragement you need to make you try once more, so here we go.
It is a miserable, wet day as I approach the white pillars guarding the hand-crafted iron gates at the entrance to the railway station that have been there since the place was built.
The stairs leading down to the track are damp and dirty from people’s feet, old ticket stubs and chewing gum. The handrail even more gritty. The stench of boiling coffee and month-old curry wafts around the crowded platform. Travellers step over crumpled newspapers that the cleaners have missed and pigeons scuffle around, scrounging left over nibbles that have been dropped on the floor by commuters.
The swirl of mist and rain covers the empty track and crowded platform. Chaotic noises fill the air. In a corner, a young busker wearing a hoodie plays a guitar. A cry of laughter as a young girl is tickled by her dad. And a sleepy beggar, who smells of alcohol and vomit, grasps his cup and pleads for spare change from passers-by. His speech is slurred, no one understands him and they quickly walk on by.
Amongst the myriad of confused people searching for their trains, stands a frail old lady, her hair a delicate grey, glasses perched on her nose. She scans the plethora of facts and figures to try to locate when and where her train will arrive.
Information boards begin to rustle and the frantic voice of the tanoy alerts people where to go.
The tracks rumble and screeching breaks can be heard entering the station. As the train arrives, the sound of thumping feet gets louder as more and more people run down the stairs and businessmen and women scamper to get a seat on the train.
Clunking and rasping, the engine again kicks into motion, pushing the sleek, modern train down the beaten track.
Here I am again. The same too small, hot and crowded compartment. The same horde of half-awake creatures in ties and business suits that hide behind newspapers that need a small rainforest to construct. People tuck themselves away with no concept of what is going on around them, completely oblivious to all the other passengers.
The man with the raised arm in the middle of the train holding on to the rails hasn’t showered again. The stuck-up guy with his large watch, new laptop and self-motivated air sitting next to me turns another page of the ‘Times’ that seems even wider than the previous page. I discreetly attempt to get his sleeve out of my mouth but fail miserably.
I managed to keep cool and the train finally approaches my station. I stand, walk through the sliding doors and make my exit off the train. Once free, I sprint out of the station vowing never to return again. Well at least not until like thousands of other workers it is time to pack my bag and return to a loving family at the end of the day.
I should say that I based the above on when I used to commute to the Barbican many years ago and the last time I was on a train which was going from Farnborough to St Pancras it was a totally different and indeed pleasant experience.