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Sunday March 16th  2014  Tim Candler

 

     I think it might have been Emerson who decided that how a person thinks about the world tells you more about the person than it tells you about the world. Kind of nagging view of our species and just what one would expect to hear from either a  transcendentalist or a right wing politician. All very well reaching a conclusion that we are infinite when you're staring at a pond and trying to work out what the Loons might be saying, then going back to a warm fire place and asking the maid service for a buttered crumpet and a cup of tea.  But when you're something like eleven and you're reminded one morning  that it's almost time to go back to the boarding school, 'the infinitude of the private man' means absolutely nothing to you because your 'infinitude' is so dominated by meaninglessness you have only two options. The first is to say 'Yes.' The second is to say 'No.' And of the two, if you say 'No' chances are you'll never again eat a buttered crumpet or have a cup of tea. So you pack your carrying bag, you put on the uniform, you find your school cap, you present yourself for a sweet smile, you are given your train fare and you walk down to the railway station, where you give your railway fare to the station master who gives you a train ticket. Then you wait on the platform for a diesel electric to take you to Marylebone.

 

 

      No doubt you look like a mental patient in your school uniform, so you hide your school cap in your carrying bag, you scuff up your new shoes, and suddenly there are about fifty people on the railway platform. All of them dressed up in their suits and ties and carrying newspapers for their office work in London. And oddly enough you feel less like a dork, because your fellow travelling companions all look more bad tempered and a great deal more miserable than you feel. By the 1960's the bridge over the railway line, on the road between Chalfont Saint Peter and Stoke Poges, had been surrounded by what I believe is politely called "A Dormitory Town." And to give you an idea what "A Dormitory Town" is, during the Second World War of the 700,000 bombs dropped on London by the German Air Force only one was dropped in the vicinity of  the railway cutting.  It fell a little south and west of the bridge, around where Marsham Lane meets Oak End Way. Worth taking an imagination if you're at a loose end and choose to visit the site, because you'll not see a hole in the ground, instead there'll be a glitzy domicile that's been given a name. Something like Honeysuckle Cottage, or Rainbow's End, or The Grange.  Then when the diesel electric arrives, your fellow travelers become like Buffalo, they charge for the smoking compartments, and you eventually find yourself a seat opposite a nun, or a little old lady in one of the non-smoking compartments. But before you get aboard the train you take one last look at the footbridge, off to the north. And you tell yourself that next time you see that bridge you'll be on your way home. (to be continued.....?)

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