Sunday, May 27, 2012
A 1920s Railway Station
Close to where I live stands a 1920s railway station. In the air around its quaintly utilitarian brickwork, the phantom steam of umpteen chuffers still billows and the ghosts of uniformed men with names like Earnest and Percival potter with their moustaches in proud boast between metal advertising placards for weird sounding soaps and household cleaning fluids. To either side of the station sit ordinary houses, generous detached offerings whose variety of designs is at odds with the curious building in the centre of the street. If I shut my eyes, I can hear the engines roar and tooty toot toot while a young Jenny Agutter races around in a bustle looking sad and lost.
This architectural anomaly isn’t a 1920s railway station, of course; it merely looks like one, standing right there in the middle of the street. It’s so markedly different from the surrounding houses that, every time I pass on my travels (trying to avoid Mr Do Something, marvel at Mrs Waiting To Be 47, and greet Weird Dog Telepathy Guy with a hearty hey ho) I’m minded to stop and mutter to myself, “oh look — a 1920s railway station!” Over the years, it’s become something of a game.
But here’s the curious thing. Dead opposite lives a friend of Son of Whirl, acquired during the autumn term of 2009 when Big School thrust its pre-GCSE wherewithal into all of our lives. When I walk this way now, I turn to look at his house, with its ordinary spacious driveway and unremarkable sloping roof. The thought I have is, “oh look — there’s Friend of Son of Whirl’s house.” For three years, as I reach the FOSOWH/1920s internexus of possibility, I’ve glanced left instead of right, seen one thing rather than another, thought blazers and wanky scooters rather than Earnests and bunches of roses for Ms Rumblebumbleton.*
* Yes, there was romance. But I can’t go into that now.
I hadn’t realised that I’d totally forgotten about my world of spectral steam and flustered Agutters until the other night, when the 1920s railway station suddenly reminded me of its presence in the wake of a now uncustomary glance to the right. For three years, I have passed the ghostly metal placards, oblivious to their soapy temptations, all the time glancing to the left and failing to mutter, “oh look — a 1920s railway station!” It’s as if the whole place had ceased to exist in that 'Dr Who sucked into a time vortex for a century' kind of a way.
In the great scheme of things, this is of less import than the whisker to general bodily hair ratio of Weird Dog Telepathy Guy’s dog. Or is it?
What’s in your life — long forgotten, invisible and “gone” — that’s only a roll of the eyeballs away?