Mile End Underground Station, East London
Today is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, and here in the UK the news is naturally full of national remembrance and personal memories of that awful day. Even for those of us working in the capital who were thankfully far enough away from the danger zone of Central London, it was still a terrifying time.
As I casually stepped off my usual busy train to work at 8.50am that morning – the actual time the three main bombs were detonated on three separate tube trains – confused rumours of disparate fires/ accidents/ unexplained delays across the tube network spread like wildfire, and soon escalated into real concern that these separate incidents may somehow be linked, with the final, fourth bomb on the double-decker bus at Tavistock Square almost an hour later making it clear that something was indeed seriously wrong, shocking the city into shut-down.
We monitored the breaking news unfolding throughout the day from our office in East London, watching, waiting, disbelieving. Public transport stopped, and London came to a virtual standstill. As the afternoon progressed, exposing the full horrors of an apparent terrorist attack, those with cars offered to take others home – while many other commuters, silently pensive, walked for miles, unfamiliar city streets eerily empty.
Fifty-two innocent people lost their lives that day, and 700 more were injured. It was nothing on the scale of 9/11, but nevertheless it touched us all, and it stays with us, especially during those uneasy moments when we find ourselves crammed like sardines on yet another packed commuter train stuck in a tunnel somewhere, wondering…
The old Victorian roof of Perth train station, Scotland, taken from the window of the train I was travelling in… 🙂
I used to have this poster framed on my living room wall when my children were small, and I loved the simple elegance of it. It epitomised everything I wasn’t, and never would be – a rich, thin, sophisticated, upper-class Lady. Or perhaps even a well-travelled demi-monde much in demand, wending my way across the world by using my feminine wiles to my advantage. Realistically I’ve always had more in common with the lowly lady’s maid of the era than the stylish fur-trimmed woman depicted – I’d have been practical and efficient and hovering invisibly in the background, earning my keep by sheer hard working-class graft, pretty much the way I do now.
But I could still dream… even as an exhausted young mum of three I could still avidly watch Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and other such costume dramas and imagine myself in that beautiful fantasy (for me) Art Deco world of bright young things having fun; cocktails and dressing for dinner and dancing ’til dawn with no real responsibilities… The fascination of all that decadent, modernist hedonism lured me in every time; the intriguing aristocratic life of luxury, entitlement, and absolute certainty of self has always captured my imagination.
Part of me still thinks it might still be fun to travel one day on the 21st Century Orient Express; live out my dream, because I do so love train travel and the journey itself would be truly spectacular regardless, the experience of a lifetime. Yet another part of me knows that my thrifty nature means that even if I did unexpectedly come into enough money to make such a journey a potential reality, there are always countless other practicalities I would undoubtedly prioritise to spend it on before even thinking about wasting it away on one – albeit amazing – train journey.
And I suppose that’s why me not having been born with a silver spoon in my mouth and having everything handed to me on a plate like those golden age train travellers of the past makes all the difference? For me such luxury is just that – a luxury, not a necessity, and as such always comes bottom of the list when balancing a limited budget. But nevertheless I can still dream, that alluring image has stayed with me long after the original framed poster has been replaced on my wall, if not in my heart. The sheer thrill of it all still draws me in; the thought of travelling so romantically across Europe in the vintage carriages of the Venice Simplon Orient Express with all its history and vintage elegance still quickens the wanderlust in my soul, and perhaps it always will…
Eight-hour train journey,
Travelling through countryside,
Landscape rushing by,
Relentless rocking motion,
Lets me contemplate.
While away the hours,
Indulge my own company,
Catch up with my thoughts.
The rhythmic rattling soothes me,
Lulls me to slumber…
As darkness descends,
Grey-tinged reflections, mournful,
Stare straight back at me.
Boredom seeps slowly,
Chills me to the deepest bone,
Pervades every pore.
Numbness of body and mind,
Nothing brings relief.
I long for this journey’s end –
Until the next time…
This week’s One Word Photo Challenge is Emerald… I’m finding myself looking at things and saying – nope, that’s forest green, or british racing green, but not emerald green… who knew there could be so many different shades of each main colour?
But I suppose I can always claim artistic license due to the difference in colour from what the eye sees, to what the camera produces, to how the finished image looks on-screen…
So with that disclaimer, here is my contribution – a beautifully restored emerald green steam locomotive, taken at the National Rail Museum in York 🙂