Trains of Thought
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XVI. 08/05-12/05/17; untied

A man with thick-frame glasses and a white beard browses his facebook feed: regional elections, oldtimer cars, misc. scenery, cat and family photos. Our information is as fragmented as the circumstances we live in. Opposite him a passenger in blue jeans, a blue sweater over a chequered shirt, wearing brightly pink, round-frame glasses. Out of character or in character? They’re temporary. He puts them away with his book before we arrive.

The days trickle in to London and back out in the evening. A scarf hangs from the luggage ledge and pools onto my neighbour’s lap. He doesn’t mind. As we arrive the man in front stands up from his aisle seat and claims it. As he does so the scarf opens up, revealing itself as a generous piece of fabric. I don’t know why — perhaps the glasses, the elegant corpulence, the steady indifference — the man with the generous scarf reminds me of Umberto Eco.

On the way out: a suited young man with orange-laced training shoes and a duffel bag and his red tie untied around his neck.

The carriage lights are off and it is dark  through the tunnels except for the light from the clock (7:20) and the glow of the tablet and the computer displays. Outside there’s a haze above the trees signalling the arrival of a sunny day.

Delays at Finsbury Park. A view onto a building site. At one end of the site a metal structure spans the width of a new rail-track. Moving towards the other side: an impromptu command and control centre for the team, with a pinboard and a covered plywood-made structure to shelter equipment, clothing. Perhaps the builders sit there when it rains.  Long metal bars and an earth-mover complete the picture.

The platform attendant is in a flow: he wears a blue cap and sunglasses and high-vis: standard issue. His importance increases as service deteriorates. His announcements are repetitive: “this train will not be stopping at Harringay, … I repeat… once again … ” Occasionally his flow is interrupted and mangled by the unstable PA system: “we are for the delay and the convenience caused.” A woman walks by: “I was stuck for 10 minutes, I’m so annoyed.” There are whispers of a mechanical fault, a sense of confusion and excitement develops on the platform, then fades just as quickly. Trains eventually leave bound to the right places.

The Friday morning 730 train is held in the tunnel for a few minutes, the carriage lights are in working order; it would be more atmospheric if they were not. This time the clock is blank. A passenger gets ready to take her Brompton bike off the train. Her bike and gear look new. Light-reflecting gear is in a special carrier basket that can be clipped on once the bike is extended. It is all neatly organized. Casual observation suggests that the business of fold-out biking is rich enough to deserve a taxonomy of its subjects.

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