Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I will never understand how it can be 7.18, and the train advertised for 7.16 can still be showing as 'on time'.  On my way to the station, I passed my alarm clock. He is a somewhat weatherbeaten man, probably not  much beyond his early sixties. He wears (always) a crumpled, leather hat with straw-like whisps of blonde hair escaping in every direction beneath it. His face has a similar leathery consistency as the hat, but several  shades paler and split by a large smile. His jacket is red, waxed (presumably) cotton, faded to a dusty tomato colour. I haven't paid much attention to his trousers. They're a khaki shade of brown. I imagine they're cords.  Every morning, he walks his wife - a short woman in a long skirt, grey bun bidding for freedom from high on top of her head - to the station.  Every morning, they are engrossed in conversation as they climb the stairs, and then wait silently on the platform for the train. She climbs aboard, and every morning he watches her settle before waving a
jaunty farewell and setting off again. On his way home, every morning, he sings.

On days when I'm catching the early train, I walk behind them, watching him lean his head down to catch what she's saying; observe the fondly solicitous hand on her elbow as they climb the stairs. Pass them on the platform - nod, smile - as I take my place where the front of the train will be. On days when I'm catching the later train, I hear him before I see him, singing as he walks alone to the next place. He breaks neither his song nor his stride, but tips his hat, smiles and passes by.

I like catching the later train; his song is cheery and feels like sunshine. But I like catching the earlier train, too. They are so lovely together. I hope they are as deeply, fondly contented as I imagine them to be.

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