"He gave me
some cake. It was in a Tupperware in his bag. Said he'd been taking it in for
his team at work but I might as well have it. To sort of say sorry I think. You
know, for the inconvenience."
"I see. What
climbed over the fence and I stood there like a chump for a moment before
getting back on and calling you lot."
"You didn't try
and stop him?"
"What did you
expect me to do? Wrestle him to the ground and throw him over my shoulder? He
weren't a big guy but he's not much smaller than me.
already made it pretty clear that he wasn't getting back on the train."
"Well, he said,
"I'm not getting back on." But it was the way he said it. Like it
wasn't up for debate. And he had a bit of a scary look in his eye."
"Yeah, sort of
like he was on drugs but not really. Just that getting in his way wouldn't be a
good idea. Look the guy who pulls the emergency stop on a train then just gets
off and walks off into the countryside clearly has some issues, right? Besides
which, he'd left track-side so I was hardly going to pull him back onto railway
property was I?
him on CCTV anyway right?"
you'd be surprised about how little help that is sometimes. Cameras are old,
pictures are grainy and at the wrong angle, and we're looking for a
normally-dressed, average-size, brown-haired Caucasian male carrying a laptop
about that. I'd know him again if I saw him, but to describe him...? Well, he
could be me or you or half the people who've walked past that window."
"Do you know
where he got on?"
"Not a chance.
With cancellations it was heaving on there, I never made it down the
understand. Thanks for your help. We'll be in touch if we get anything."
"Can I eat
"The cake; can
I eat it? Well, share it with the team..."
ahead, knock yourself out. What kind is it?"
Sometimes I wonder
what would happen if I just didn't stop.
Standing here with
my forehead pressed against the glass I wonder what would happen if the doors
opened and I didn't get off, didn't go home, have my dinner, sink into the
sofa, drag my lazy arse into bed, set the alarm to go through the whole
rigmarole again tomorrow.
What if I stepped
back, away from the doors, let the train pull my weary carcass the wrong way
out of the station and north.
Not that you can go
that far north. It's not that big an island. But that doesn't really matter.
It's not about that. It's about what would happen if I got off where the train
stopped and just kept walking.
I used to hand out
catalogues in Amsterdam station; when you looked at the destinations scrolling
up the board you couldn't escape the fact that you were at one edge of a
continent. One train to Moscow, one more train to Vladivostok and you've
crossed half the globe.
terminates in Middlesbrough. It's not quite the same. In fact it's a shithole.
But you probably know that already.
We're not even
moving. Waiting for a platform to become available apparently. Eleven bloody
platforms at that station and I bet there's not ten other trains there when we
What would happen if
I got off in Middlesbrough and kept walking. Just kept going until I
disappeared. Can you even disappear in this country? There's CCTV everywhere
but it would take a while to find me on the cameras. They wouldn't be looking
for me on Teeside. And in Leeds I'd be just another knackered, middle-aged
office worker shuffling through the daily routine, one of thousands going
through the grey commute. Tens of thousands maybe?
There must be some
pretty empty areas of Northumbria where a man could disappear? Just walk out
onto the moors, dig a hole, make a shelter, steal a sheep.
I've not even got a
coat with me. I'd be dead in a week.
Maybe I should head
Pack a few different
things in the rucksack tomorrow morning, head to the station as usual, then
London, the south coast, a ferry, and then start walking?
Harder to find.
And it would mean I
wasn't so tired I'm falling asleep standing up.
Empty the bank
Keep to the back
roads and minor rail lines.
Head south, France,
then Spain. I bet you can disappear there. No job. No rent. No jammed in like
sardines for two hours a day in an overheated cigar tin. No fighting your way
through the barriers because the machines don't work properly. No performance appraisals.
No stretch targets. No desperate clinging on.
Just walk away.
And we're moving
Back into the
station. Back into the routine. The rut. What did Nick say? "The only
difference between a rut and a grave is the depth."