The changing of the paragraph
Begin here – on these points – stranded high above the sleepers.
The security of stasis. Except please don’t bring me the chatty, the crying babies, the loud devices, the smelly, the drunk, the odd. Let me hide here forever in my own smell, silent, odd, invisible.
Not that you’d necessarily know this to look at me, I guess I look pretty enough normal if I was sneaked a second look reflected in the window at my shoulder, just another citizen closing down contact, being careful not to stare, being correct. Perhaps a bit down in the mouth.
And I’m thinking that to move from this point, you’d think you could go anywhere – but it has to be along the same lines. Its all sort of predestined. Right, along this page, then down. A small step to the next line – mind the gap.
Doze with your hair on the steamy window, your ears sticky from headphones, whining with tinnitus. Startled awake by a booming crackled apology about an incident on the line, or safety announcement – see it, say it, sorted. Change the paragraph, a controlled derailment like a bicycle chain.
Sorted, that’ll be the day. Then my thoughts click into background music – give themselves a soundtrack – well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye, that’ll be the day – pause – when I die. At last the train pulls away in time to Buddy Holly. The successive carriage joltings taking up the slack. Their linking concertinas rattling arthritically. There you are, it feels like a bit of freedom conceded for you, although its already too late for your connection.
Freedom? Freedom when everything is engineered, designed, pre-fabricated, inherited, every thought pre-loved. Nothing comes from nothing, even the thrill of just thinking something is fresh and new soon passes and then what? An opposite train flashes past like thunder, rocking the compartment. Where did all that come from?
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could, so somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good. A tear comes at this sound of music. They never come in real life.
Just to stop all this I look out of the window and describe what I’m seeing to myself – a list like those American freight train cars that go on for miles – a station going by too quick to read the name – a hungover driver rushing up the platform – the little puffer billies all in a row – white painted stones – a pigeon loft – cars on a motorway – rooks in an industrial estate – an overgrown quarry – a cutting full of buddleias – new houses on a flood plain – a conveyor belt in a works – sewage sprinklers – a birch copse – moorhens on a reedy pond – piles of aggregate – drystone walling – a scrap yard – striding pylons – on and on until my mind is sort of refreshed, unmade. Not exactly ‘Night Mail’ but it helps.
After all I used to say to them its more difficult to stay the same than change, nothing ever stays the same, nothing ever could, just wait and it will change, hang on in there, think of all the collateral damage, the unintended consequences, something better will come along.
So I’d better start believing it for myself now. Wait for the changing of the paragraph.
Eddy Dreadnought 2018