I run to catch the last train home. Platform 16 at London Waterloo
. It's usually one of those newer train
s with electric door
s, but thankfully tonight it's the slam door
variety. This means comfortable seats and a smoking carriage
The train is, as usual, packed. There's been a rugby
game on at Twickenham
, and it's been a busy day. I waited patiently on the station concourse
, the silence broken only by the singing
rugby fans, and the clackety-clack-clack of the announcement
s board. Platform 16, on your marks, set, go.
My sobriety affords me an edge in the mad dash for the first carriage
. I say dash, but it's really just concerted walking. I take my seat and bunker down for the ride.
Follow the drill soldier
.. release lock .. load cans
.. depress play
. Perhaps not the bounciest of music. I sigh .. it's been a long
day. I look around the carriage and watch my fellow travellers fall in. The usual mix of people studiously ignoring one another. Here come the rugby fans, suitably dressed in rugby shirt
s, faces daubed with nationalistic pride
.. presumably to aid identification.
The train pulls away from the platform as I doze
, wondering about why we still have 1970s rolling stock
on these lines, my thoughts interlaced with hypnotic beats.
After a while I get up to use the toilet
. In my naive amnesia
I believe that this is possible. I leave my bag on my seat, take it if you dare. Squeezing past the rugby fans illicits no response .. perhaps they too feel the hour
. The toilet is occupied, and I decide to wait it out. After a few minutes a girl emerges .. she can't be more than 15. Pretty
.. I suspect she'll break a few hearts in her lifetime.
It appears she has redecorate
d the toilet. Oh well, I only wanted to blow my nose anyway.
Making my way back past the first class
compartments. Somehow I doubt those two teenagers trashing the headrest
s are valid ticket holders. My seat is as I left it .. I kid myself that seniority
still counts for something these days .. then remember I'm only 19.
's coming up .. I scour the wasteland for burning car wrecks. In truth I have a few friends who live in Feltham, it's really not as bad as people make out. But they do seem to regard joyriding
as family entertainment
Almost all of the rugby fans have departed now, leaving just the one lone diehard
. Evidently he doesn't feel the abscence of anyone he knows is a barrier to revelry
. He continues singing in a low, almost pathetic voice. He's tired now .. dragging the words. Outwardly
no one is aware of him .. inwardly
we're lynching him.
Feltham station. The sign says "Alight here for bus link to London Heathrow Airport
". It reminds me of travel, of places too far away to know. I stumble off .. my fatigue
disguising me amongst the crowd. I begin the long walk to George's .. past the best kebab
dealer in London. I arrive at George's .. he's only just back .. wake up, it's time for bed