Thursday, 4 February 2016

Train keeps rolling - its a genetic circuitry thing.

I am having a hectic week.  You know how it goes, a million and one things to do and really not much time to write. I drive everywhere these days and find it the easiest way to get through all my nipping about jobs.  But I sometimes wish I still had the daily hour twice a day commute. Sitting on a comfy seat, with a table, a pen and my notebook in front of me.  Then I would find time to write.

I think my first idea of a train was from a nightly game with my elder sister.  She would send me off to sleep on the Beebo train.  She made all the sounds, chug-chug, whistle blowing, "all aboard" and steam, chuff-chuffs. My imagination carried me away and I know it worked because I never reached the destination.  At least not awake.

My brothers had a vast train set in the loft above my father's office.  It ran all round a large oil tank on a flat board. I was not allowed to play.  I would sneak up and into another section of the huge space, open my sister's ballet costume trunk and dress up.  The boys wouldn't realise that I was there and I was quite often shut in the dark when they left. By the age of six,  a correlation between darkness and trains became indelibly inked on my brain.

At eleven, my dance partner and I won a place in a British team dancing in Switzerland. My sister accompanied me as chaperone and hairdresser. We set off to catch the night sleeper to Southampton from Lime Street, Liverpool.  It was so exciting to sleep in a bunk on a train. It also felt very strange waking up in a siding.  I had thought that the train ran all night.  I still associated trains with darkness.

No surprise then, that encountering the Ghost Train at Blackpool Pleasure Beach for the first time - I felt no fear. I rode it several times, to the consternation of my youngest brother, who was doing his best to scare me. No by then I liked the dark and trains.

My son loved Thomas The Tank Engine. He would read the stories and rewind the videos to favourite parts over and over again. When I was researching the Psychology of Communication Disorders for my degree, I discovered that people on the autistic spectrum often gravitate towards trains because they behave predictably.  Electrical circuitry is the same.  Lots of straight, logical pathways.  He took to electrical work immediately, having tried mechanical engineering first. He isn't autistic but there may be a link? Both my brothers worked as electro-technical engineers. Perhaps it begins with a genetic attraction to trains. 

I decided that WH Auden should deliver the poem this week.  His is an interesting train ride.

Permanent Way 

Self-drivers may curse their luck,
Stuck on new- fangled rails,
But the good old train will jog,
To the dogma of its rails, 

And steam so straight ahead,
That I cannot be led astray
By tempting scenes which occur
Along any permanent way. 

Intriguing dales escape
Into hills of the shape I like,
Though were I actually put,
Where a foot-path leaves the pike
For some steep romantic spot,
I should ask what chance there is
Of at least a ten-dollar cheque
Or a family peck of a kiss: 

But forcibly held to my tracks,
I can safely relax and dream
Of a love and a livelihood
To fit that wood or stream; 

And what could be greater fun,
Once one had chosen and paid,
Than the inexpensive delight
Of a choice one might have made? 

W.H Auden.

Thanks for reading.  Adele




Steve Rowland said...

An entertaining and interesting blog and I like the poem - it merits several readings. Thanks.