WE REGRET TO ANNOUNCE

by Ken Jones


 
I hang out here most days. No one takes any notice of a scruffy old man wrapped in a Burberry raincoat that's seen better days. It's quite cosy hunched up by the steaming urn. And the grimy gothic windows shut out most of the noise, where the diesels groan and idle. Even in a small station like ours there's a bit of theatre.

Brass rails, smoked glass
swing stage doors
to platforms 3 and 4

Bundled up in shapeless winter clothes, humping and dragging their baggage, they stagger in and out. All day long the scrape and drag of plastic chairs and tables, and the ringing of the till. A vacant glance around, then tea and cake. Angry, anxious or resigned, most of them are really somewhere else. Over the loudspeaker come places where everyone would sooner be, together with "cancelled", "running late" and "we regret the inconvenience". Some, ear-plugged into anywhere else, stare vacantly ahead. Others seek solace by muttering to themselves "Hello ! Hello! I'm in the station buffet". The clock has a nervous tick: the minute hand clicks, then hesitates; click, hesitates, threatening any minute to stand still.

Clutching cardboard cups
we struggle
to connect

The tacky notices on the walls hardly get a second glance. But, to the philosopher willing to miss a train or two, there are some that are deeply poignant.

Cling wrapped genoa cake
"Each Slice
as Fresh as the Next"

So, the travellers come and go and fret and fume. They really believe that this is just a staging post to somewhere else.

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