Jun 112012
 


We watch the three of them stand inside the train sobbing. They stand inside the first carriage, facing the closed door at the back of the driver’s cabin. They stand and sob constantly, even when the train eases into each station. They cry to the limits of their lungs because they want everyone on the Chiltern Line to hear, everyone across London, through the countryside, on the roads, in the towns and in the villages. Sometimes they lie flat on the floor, sobbing, then dust themselves down, stand hip to hip and start bawling again. We believe they are relatives. The girl is a brunette, green-eyed, late teens. We are convinced she is off to university to read media studies, or fine art, because she carries a polaroid camera and is repeatedly snapping photos then hurling them from the windows into the passing fields. The man is in his seventies, the skin on his arms like crepe paper. The last is a woman – she may be the man’s wife, or his daughter: she is twenty years his junior. Though her eyes look somewhat jaded, her blonde hair, violet nails and blushing skin are enough to mesmerise. She is surely the most cunning – this is evident from the almost-finished cryptic crossword held in her right hand. All three wear fluorescent orange jumpsuits, a black and white image of a steam train on their backs. We are not yet certain of the meaning of their ritual. We know nothing of who they are or where they come from. We do know they shuttle up and down the Chiltern Line every Monday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., regular as an atomic clock. And we know that they are famous for their work now, albeit mainly in Buckinghamshire and south-west Hertfordshire.

Words & Images: Mike Loveday

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