Tuesday, 7 October 2008

7.34 to Kingston, Jamaica

Wedged against the luggage rack, coat rolled up and resting on his ankles, he began to empty his harassed mind. Lucky to have made his normal train to London, despite the last minute rush. He closed his eyes and thought back to the last 50 minutes at home. It had been a strange way to start the day.

Opening the curtains to let the new day into the lounge, the whole curtain rail, plus curtains, plus particularly sticky cobweb, plus an unhappy inhabitant - the whole lot just fell down on top of him. The weight of it had surprised him and in stepping back, he had pushed over the magnificent Cheese plant that then puddled the floor with both wet soil and water, because he had watered it before he went to bed last night. He didn't dare put the hoover on. Mrs Downstairs would have bashed on the ceiling with her walking stick. He had mopped and swept and scooped and then realized he had knelt in the soil in his new pale blue pyjamas. Had to dismantle the whole curtain rail to fix it and then hook the curtains back on, one hook at a time, clumsy with the small pieces.

Anyway, he'd managed to catch himself up. Had the fastest shower ever, and then mixed the breakfast fruits in with the cereal to save a bit more time, only one small cup of coffee. Ran down the hill.

In the train, a minute before departure, a lilting sing song voice with smoothed out consonants, announced, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard the 7.34 to Kingston, Jamaica." This was followed by a small stampede. About half of the people in the compartment grabbed their possessions and left the train. The rest looked around, sheepish and silent. He started to laugh out loud. Couldn't stop. He sat down as the doors slunk to closure and thudded, locked. He was still laughing, with tears streaming down his face, as the train glided along the platform. In the blur of it all, he noticed that the remaining doomed passengers were moving into the next compartment, avoiding his eyes. 

There was another announcement as the train picked up speed. He assumed it apologized for the earlier mistake, but he didn't hear it too well as he giggled his way towards town in wonderful legs stretched out solitude. He just about managed to pull himself together before the first stop, miles away. But he was still grinning as the train welcomed a new set of faces who wouldn't have understood the joke. He didn't care that no-one sat anywhere near him. He felt restored.