“Are we getting off at this blue one?” says the small boy standing unsteadily in the space between the front seats, nose pressed hard against the rain-wetted glass of the emergency door.
“No,” says his father.
“Because it’s not our stop.”
The train pulls into the platform at Bow Church. The boy stares down the track ahead.
“Where are we going, Daddy?”
“We’re going where this train is going.”
As the doors shut and the train accelerates away from the station, the boy’s father holds the palm of his hand six inches behind his son’s back. The same conversation, almost word-for-word, has occurred at Devons Road, Langdon Park and All Saints (for Chrisp Street Market). Soon, almost certainly, it will occur at Pudding Mill Lane.
“Choo choo,” says the boy.
“Choo choo,” murmurs his father.
The single track rises and curves east to run alongside the main line into Liverpool Street. The boy’s father points out the Olympic Stadium, the tangled red loops of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and the swooping concrete roof of Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre. His son stares through the opposite window, distracted by something.
“There’s a motorway,” he says.
His father follows his gaze. Ahead of them the track divides, sending trains either side of the single platform at Pudding Mill Lane.
“Are we getting off at this blue one?”
His father reflects for a moment.
“Actually,” he says, “it’s an A road.”