Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Cage of Gargoyles

In the early evening of the city I found myself walking downhill towards the victorian splendour of the railway station. To the side of me lay queues of traffic, headlights, horns and a sea of miserable looking faces staring at the tail lights of the car infront. Some vehicles were pristine examples of german engineering snobbery, others were more modest affairs but all stood still only shaking occasionally when a bus sped by in the adjacent lane. I have no desire to sit within the atmosphere of urban impatience and instead opted for the train service hoping for a less stressful journey home.

I left the streets and made my way onto the platforms to see a majestic long train waiting, gazing through the windows I could see seats a plenty and looked forward to a most comfortable journey. When I reached the door I noticed the train was destined for London and was not my service. I trotted along past the train to the end of the platform. There stood the chariot to take me home. A single travel worn carriage, filled to bursting with evening commuters.
"You must be kidding me," I muttered under my breath as I chose the less crowded of the 2 doors to try and gain access.

The man in front of me had no intentions of letting me on. He stood stubbornly in the doorway and after a moment I realised I would have to either play chicken with the closing carriage doors or push past him. I excused myself and stepped around him being treated to a tut and a look of utter contempt as I went by. The other passengers in front of him carried the same expression and refusal to move down into the seating area. I managed to get by and was just beginning to make my way down to a standing space further along when the train guard shouted at me "WOULD YOU MIND MOVING DOWN THE TRAIN...PLEASE!" he barked as he glared at me. I could feel my temper getting a little frayed around the edges but decided it was not worth pointing out the obvious to him. No doubt he would take it as aggressive behaviour and call on the intellectual genius of the security guards to solve all his problems and get me ejected from the train.

After a few minutes of standing within the center of the train the engine roared into life and the heaters were promptly tuned up to full, it was only another few minutes before I stood sweating and shifting awkwardly as the train moved off. I looked about me to the other passengers, most were plugged into iphones and submerged themselves in whatever digital world took their attention away from their environment. The others bore a look of discomfort and general misery. Only one man carried a smile and that was chemically induced from the half finished can of strong larger he clutched in his hand, it was without doubt the ugliest train I had ever been upon. As we stopped at a station or two, some spaces started to appear among the standing passengers. Finally a man left his seat and cautiously made his way towards the doors, the business man sitting in the seat next to him promptly spread out to take over both seats and stared angrily at the floor to avoid making eye contact with anyone left standing.

When we finally reached my station I was out of the doors like a greyhound from a trap, the cool night air was a blessing and helped wash away the stress of the confinement. I found my lantern, sidestepped a vehicle being driven erratically by another passenger and stepped away into the darkness of the country lanes to head back to the hovel.

Within the space of an hour I had been witness to many of the attitudes and trappings typical of modern western life. If this is civilisation I am glad to say I am a barbarian and will go my own way.


  1. ...bravo dear Owl! ~ how awesome of yoU to NOT take on other souls auras!... can be overwhelming ~ especially when a li'l frazzled at the end of the day ~ if no fore thought of intention has been set in place!...
    ...quite easy to succumb to the will of sleepers! ~ a happy brave face manifestation ~ can be an interesting play! ~ observation of others that may peer at your smiling face ~ may verily end up ~ making yoU want to burst out laughing! ~ keep well dear kindred! ~ blessed be!...

  2. As a former Portsmouth-London commuter, that brings back some awful memories!

  3. Thank you earthenmagic & Rob, at one point I found myself thinking back to the Michael Douglas film Falling Down. If they ever remake it for a UK setting I think it could easily translate to the commuter railway environment!

    Hope you are both well & looking forward to the weekend,
    happy trails.

  4. I vowed never to commute again as I had similar experiences 10 years ago. I suspect it may well be worse now. As always a great read.

  5. Many thanks Pablo,
    I can certainly understand your thinking. Perhaps the problem is that we are just too crowded & I suspect it will only get worse unless something dramatic happens.