Meanwhile, back in 1997, on the train home

We want to escape from suffering as fast and thoroughly as possible. Therefore pleasure is demanded.

On the train after a normal day at work with the telephone, the brokers, the accounts and the incessant chat about shopping and television. Keep out of it. Another train flashes by in the opposing direction. My back is aching slightly and eyes smarting. A man itches his head, concerned for his hairstyle. The train slows for Hilsea, the industrial estate stop. My thoughts turn to my brother who I must phone tonight; since moving I haven’t really kept in touch. Thinking ahead to the two mile walk to home, hoping the skies will be clear to view stars I don’t know the names of. SAVE US TIME. SAVE YOUR TIME. PLEASE SHUT THE DOOR. NO SMOKING. Danger Do not lean out of the window. Do not lean on open door when the train is moving. Everyone does when the train is stopping. Rush, rush, rush. Slow it right down. A girl with clipped back hair at the temples gets off. A woman with lanky hair gets on. I thought she was a teenage boy at first. We move on.

If the door is not properly closed and the train is moving DO NOT attempt to close it – use the emergency alarm. ALARM. Penalty for improper use £50. The train lurches to a stop. People look round, annoyed. I sit quietly, innocently. The Guard arrives with the ticket machine hanging from shoulder, grey coat for the cold, looking like a Russian policeman. Why did you pull the alarm? The door was open and the train was moving and I read the sign. Tuts and sighs and closing of the door. The train moves on. I match the stares from other passengers until one by one they all look away, concerned with their problems or what’s for tea. Hope it’s chips it’s chips. The idea of pulling the alarm chain fades as I realise I too would like to be home.

Deep blue train seats with purple and cyan railway-like patterns zig-zagging. How many arses have sat on them? Grubby black marks where the heads go. Sitting up straight, not wanting my head to touch the filthy grime. Another station. A pretty girl sits down opposite. I don’t talk to her or look at her directly but use the reflection in the dark window. I look at what’s going on in the world of the platform and the reflection of the girl I have named Kim.

Any passengers for Botley please alight from the front six coaches of this train due to the short platform at this station. Am I in the front six? I think so. Otherwise I’ll just jump out into whatever is at the end of the platform. A prickly bush. I loose track of which station is next.

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