Leaving Town Alive

It’s just gone midnight on Friday night. I arrived home a couple of hours ago. The first train headed south from Leeds after work was cancelled – after queueing to talk to two different people at the railway station (because of course the first person couldn’t answer me), I discovered another train would be along in half an hour. I bought some food and drink from a kiosk, and sat on my own in a seating area, watching the minutes tick by.

A little while later – while minding my own business on the train towards London, the guy sitting next to me went to the bathroom four times. Four times in two hours. I noticed he was watching Mr Robot on his iPad, so started to wonder if he was doing some sort of “Withnail and I” challenge to keep up with Elliot’s drug taking. He finally got up with twenty minutes of the journey left and didn’t come back. I wondered what planet he ended up on.

While traversing the tunnels underneath London, I began people watching. It’s rare that I find myself on the London Underground in the evening, so everybody became a curiosity. The girls with sequins and jewels glued to their faces seemed to be “a thing”. Also, the haunted, tired looking people staring into space seemed to be a thing – far too frequent a thing, if you ask me.

Paddington Station was it’s usual self – a sea of people walking this way and that under a colossal roof built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel a very long time ago. I always wonder where people are going – what their families might be like – if they have somebody waiting for them – if they are on their way somewhere interesting.

An hour and two trains later, I left the confines of Maidenhead railway station, and stood waiting for a taxi. Two drunk old men were having a very slow, very deliberate conversation behind me.

“Do you think my wife will talk to me when I get home?”

“I don’t know – do you want her to?”

“Well the question is, if she doesn’t talk to me, is that because I’m a pig, or because she’s taking no notice of me?”

“I don’t think we can ever know that, can we”

A taxi swept into the car park, and I found myself grinning as I threw my bag in the back, and told the driver my destination. As we pulled away I looked over my shoulder to get a glimpse of the two men, but they were already getting into another taxi.

It’s been a strange kind of day really. It started with a cold breakfast in a hotel hundreds of miles from home, was filled with stress (the bit I can’t write about), and ended with five hours of a relentless journey home on a succession of trains. It is good to be home though.

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