Flip Flop Flying

Notes from a train journey

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The below was written as notes into my iPod on Saturday. I’ve not really done much to it other than tidy things up a touch.

62 quid. A return ticket from London to Lincoln. Seems excessive, that.

The company that operates the train that goes that was gives you 15 minutes of Wi-Fi use for free. It’s free all the time if you are a first class human being. I, though, am a second class citizen, so only 15 minutes. Well, there would’ve been 15 minutes had the sign-up process for the free Wi-Fi not had been like applying for a bank loan. Honestly, all you need to do is ask me if agree to your terms and conditions, which, I will say yes to without reading, and then I tap the CONNECT button. Easy. Why do they need my address?

The girl sat next to me, in the window seat was read “The Outsider” by Albert Camus. The man sat next to her in the aisle seat was playing cards on his iPod touch. She won the battle of intellects.

There seems to be a lot smaller areas for luggage than I remember trains having.

Some guy walked by: very difficult to tell if he’s got body odour or has just eaten or been near to a warm Cornish pasty.

Change trains at Peterborough. My first taste of non-London UK. Chatty girls working at the train station coffee shop. A stag do of men on the other platform. All in fancy dress: a couple of soldiers, one guy as Hulk Hogan, another as Mr. T, and one in a shiny blue leotard with a Union Jack wrapped around his shoulders.

A teenage kid with his mates dropped litter, and one of his mates chastised him for doing so: “there’s a bin just there!”

A guy getting on the Peterborough to Lincoln train with a New York Yankees fitted hat with the word “Trevor” stitched on the side in a gothic font. When we got on the train I asked him about it. All he said was, “got it done in the States.”

Did a couple of quick drawings on my iPad, looking out of the window. Interesting to do something like that, with the light changing so fast. (There’s no Wi-Fi at me mum’s house, so I can’t put them online at the moment.)

I turned off the podcast I’d been listening to. I didn’t want my first experiences of being back in my home county tainted by thoughts of the specifics of the current baseball news. Listened to some Baxter Dury instead. Music that could enhance the Englishness. (After Baxter, I put on MGMT’s second album. That’s an album I adore. Way better than the first album. One of my favourite records of the last couple of years. But it’s also an album I totally associate with Mexico. I have listened to it a lot in Mexico City. And it does feel a little out of place for the mental diorama I have laid out for that record. That diorama had sunshine and a t-shirt, not clouds and cold toes. And I do have cold toes: the ankle level air vents on the train seem to not be pumping warm air, despite the date being 17th December.)

An old lady that looked very much like a snowman got off at Sleaford.

Sat at that station for twenty minutes. Dusky light turned dark, whitey-blue signs turned sodium orange as we waited for another slightly faster train to overtake us.

It wouldn’t really be dark were it not for the cloud cover. As we left Sleaford, as the town’s outskirts gave way to fields, the true scale of the Lincolnshire skies showed itself. Just a huge 180 degrees of grey. And just above the western horizon, a long thin slash of peach-coloured setting sun. The hugeness of the Lincolnshire skies is my favourite thing about the county.

And what to do when I arrive? I’d told my mother I’d be arriving home a couple of days later. I hate surprises. Hate is way too strong a word for that. And I get the feeling that saying you hate surprises is the new “I hate clowns.” But, I am surprising my mother. Terrible. But, as the train trundles along a track as bumpy as former DDR autobahns, I’m wondering if I should go and have a pint first. Just sit in a pub and let the Lincoln accents soak in for a while. I imagine I’ll delete these words from the blog post if I don’t go for a pint. And that makes it all the sillier that I am writing in a way that is acknowledging the presence of a reader.

The train pulls into Metheringham station. This is a village I’ve not thought about for a very long time. Frankly, I can’t picture it in my head either. But then, I do have problems with remembering names of places. Plenty of the towns in Lincolnshire, or towns I visited on childhood holidays are mapped out quite well in my brain, but the signs and names don’t exist. I lived in Lincoln for 22 years of my life, yet I still can’t tell you the name of the street where Ritzy nightclub is.

The darkened reflection of my face in the window. And the train seats, too. They soon begin to become punctuated with rectangles of yellow kitchen and living room light from houses that back up to the track; the occasional street light, and eventually the street lights on raised ridge to the north of Lincoln.

Then the lights of Monks Road and the industrial estate between that street and the train, and above it all the cathedral, illuminated, always there like a very fancy, yellow cherry.

Off the train, to the Jolly Brewer. A pub that I spent many nights in during my late teens and early twenties. Accents! Accents! A shock to hear my real accent being spoken back at me by the woman behind the bar. A couple of faces that I recognise in the pub. Not people I know, just faces. Older. Craggier. I ask for a pint of Kronenberg. “Pardon?” Even in my hometown people don’t understand me. I’d often thought, in Berlin or in Mexico, it was my pronunciation of things, but really, I guess it’s because I often mumble quite quietly. “Insomnia” by Faithless was playing in the pub. I have gone back in time.

I drank the pint quickly and left. Wandering slowly to the bus station, I look at faces, but the wrong faces. I look at the faces of young people to see if I recognise them. But there’s no point looking at those people. They were toddlers when I lived here. I should be looking at the middle-aged people.

It’s cold, yet there are a significant amount of young men and women in inappropriate clothing. Thin sweaters. Girls in mini skirts. Legs marbled red and white, the way cold British skin does.

I head to the place at the bus station where the bus going near to my mum’s house leaves from. Except it doesn’t any more. There’s been a change around. I walk around looking for the right place. I listen to “Smile” by the Beach Boys, a record that I fell in love with (well, bootleg tapes I fell in love with) when I lived here nearly 20 years ago. It reminds me of wanting to leave Lincoln, which felt funny, standing waiting to get the bus to my mum’s house.

The guy in front of me in the queue has a tattoo on his neck. It says BLAND. No words. I’d already seen a FATHER neck tattoo, and a bit-too-big green and black neck tattoo of a hand grenade.

“A single to Larne Road, please.”
“One pound ninety.”

Which is a 4.09km journey. If you take that price and apply it to a flight from Heathrow to Mexico City, it would mean the 8,919km flight would cost £4,168.84. So now you know.

Written by Craig

December 21st, 2011 at 11:20 am

Posted in Blah blah,Travel

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