My carriage is full of a Canadian tour party. The man opposite tells me Canada is the second-largest landmass of any country in the world. To Dan, my director, and me the journey from Kings Cross to Edinburgh is a really long way. To a Canadian, it’s a road-trip. A road-trip on a train.
This man has no need of trains! Nature's train, the horse, will carry him onwards to solve any and all crimes before him.
We stop at York. One of the party’s mother got married in York just after the war. You had to get permission from your commanding officer. Then they spent the night in the Ritz. She doesn’t want to stop and see where they married. No time. She’s off to Edinburgh.
I had an eye out when they got on board. Seeing this party of Canadians, I saw thirty tickets sold for an otherwise-empty first preview – but it turns out they’re heading to Dublin on Wednesday morning, the day we open. They’ve already done Amsterdam and Paris. They’ve got a big world to see and little time to see it. Which in its way is true of all of us.
The horizon widens again, to the traditional rolling hills and pylons of the English countryside. The mind spreads out and thoughts creep from their boxes to take the sun, meeting other thoughts they’d normally shy away from. The weird thoughts…
‘Stanley! We, the office thoughts do not play with the rambunctious thoughts of the night. Stay away.’
‘Those office thoughts are boring, they don’t even really like drinking. Steal their 4G iPhones while they doze.’
At its best, this is what I love about poetry. Thoughts and images bumping up against one another, to show you something absolutely unique. It may be transporting, heartbreaking, funny or just plain weird – but unique. Which in its way is true of all of us.
Black cows and black crows backed by black Berwick waves. The harbour wall claws safety from the sea. I came here for a wedding once, and took a photo of my friend Jim sitting on the toilet. He’s a man like the rest of us.
Maple leaves flutter as the party speculate, ‘Are we in Scot Land?’
‘Did we pass Adrian’s wall?’
One of the old men takes his first sip of bitter. ‘Pretty good. John Smith.’
His wife is worried. ‘It says to serve cold.’
‘It was kinda cold, but it’s a long walk, and it warmed up I guess.’
Which in its way is true of all of us.
Half an hour to Waverley. We open in two days.
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