Sunday, 2 January 2011
The chapter in your life entitled reducing strangers to tears
The troubled and rather lost-looking man at the train station stopped me and asked me for the time. I'd clocked him on my approach - in an eye-to-eye contact way - and was sure he was going to ask me for some money, I'd already started to fumble in my pockets for loose change. I mean, anyway, train stations are full of clocks, you know. Who asks for the time in a railway station? Just look up, pal. I was slightly annoyed to be stopped as 'Naomi' by The Boo Radleys had just come on my Ipod and it has a really great introduction. Selfish of me, I know. But just shows you though - the time, not any spare change. So I took out my mobile phone from my bag - who actually wears a watch these days? - and it said 10.58am. I told him the news and he sighed a deep sigh. It was one of those sighs you hear at the cinema from older people who are annoyed with the younger people in front of them who like to eat, text, kiss, laugh, play-fight, and, well, be young, whilst pretending to watch some 12A nonsense. I asked him, trying to be polite, if he had missed his train. He looked at me and said 'I've been missing trains all my life, but this one meant something'. He then told me, in an incredibly organised and matter-of-fact way, a very complicated story about his family situation that reminded me of a song by Ithaca band The Horseflies, one that makes even my own reconstructed and multi-dimensional reality look fairly meat and two veg. It became clear, quickly, why missing the train was a disaster. After I thought he had finished (it was just meant to be a pause, with hindsight) I nodded my head and offered some terrible platitude, for fear of saying the wrong thing at a delicate moment, not because I wanted to provoke or upset him. 'Family, eh, if it wasn't for the blood being thicker than the water where would we be?'. At these, I thought, rather harmless (if utterly inane) words, he broke down into tears and apologised - and then scurried away to the exit by the taxi rank. I was left standing there a bit open-gobbed. A few folks standing near me, waiting patiently for platforms to be announced, gave me the kind of look with their narrowed peepers that most people reserve for Nick Cotton, or whoever the latest soap opera baddie might be. I hit the pause button on my Ipod and as Sice began singing in his unearthly manner 'Take me back to the place where you and I were one' I just looked ahead and thought to myself, in a rather self-centred and paranoid way, 'My God, I am now at the stage where I am reducing complete strangers to tears in railway stations with ill-chosen words, not just the people I love and want to hold close'. Fucking hell.
The Lucksmiths - 'From Macaulay station' (3.35)
This song is appropriate, given the subject matter. And as you probably know, The Lucksmiths, sigh, said goodbye a wee while ago now but at least there is a new DVD, entitled 'Unfamiliar Stars', on the way soon. So raise a cheery smile, pop-kids! You can check on progress and release dates here.