I love being on trains. I love speeding through the stations that aren’t on the route and seeing all the waiting people fly past in a blur as I glide through on my chariot without moving a muscle. I once saw a film in which the protagonist is a writer constantly using the Eurostar to get between London and Paris whilst he typed up his stories on a MacBook. There was something liberating about it. I’m actually typing this on a train right now and I’m reminded of that feeling. People are around me on their mobile phones talking to people they’ll see in twenty minutes, listening to music so lacking in melody one can only presume that the beat is regulating their heartbeat and keeping them alive somehow, or pursuing one of man’s most elusive goals: to sleep comfortably with your head rested on the window of a moving vehicle.
I always find it surreal how so many of us can sit in such proximity and yet we don’t introduce ourselves to each other. We live out our lives in these mind-blowingly complex intertwining paths but carefully avoid anything more than a physical nearness. There’s a girl a few rows down from me who’s in nothing but an extremely provocative pirate wench costume and is receiving the expected attention from the tanked-up men around her with a feigned expression of resignation on her face. If the girl’s pretty enough and the beer strong enough we’ll break out of our little path and interact. At the same time though, most of us sit here disapproving of the boisterous banter and the simply absurd outfit yet we say nothing, not even exchanging a conspiratorial look of disapproval; we just stare into our own little space on the train and wait for our stop.
Trains aren’t all I love; I love the stations too, perhaps even more so. I love sitting watching the departures board and seeing all the places in which I could be if I just chose to take a certain train. I love seeing myself in London, Edinburgh, Penzance. I love seeing the connections in my mind and finding my way to Paris through the tunnel and on to Florence or Madrid. When you’re in a station the only thing between you and a dream destination is time and perhaps a little money, but that’s what credit cards are for...right?
There’s something I love about the trains in Britain that is a little unique. I love all the little reminders that you’re using something a hundred and fifty years old. The old wrought iron bridges, the red brick stations and the wooden signal houses, the epic trench dug through the heart of Liverpool up to Lime Street and the gargantuan steel trusses holding up the brick overpasses into Manchester, with its mind-boggling number of bricks. The world’s first train route oozes heritage. It’s a project of a bygone era and a forgotten mentality. Projects of such scale simply aren’t conceived of these days, yet alone carried to such glorious fulfilment.
Every time I get on a train I get this same feeling. I want to create. I want to write. I often take out my MacBook, just like that character from my French film. It is a somehow energising thing to be transferring oneself from one place to another with such rapidity. Even when there is a mind block and I cannot think of a story, I just love to write for its own sake. It’s just a good feeling.
…but I digress.