In praise of trains

by tillieandcoco

Dear Coco,

It’s cold here. Here is some frost to prove it!

I love that you sip tea while stopped at the lights, as if the street is just an extension of your lounge room – as it should be! I am wound up in a routine of hat hair (a seasonal change from helmet hair), only venturing outside to be inside again in the confines of a train. The weather has been so “inclement” (Transport for London loves saying “inclement”!) that I have fallen over twice at Wimbledon Station, which stupidly has the world’s smoothest, slipperiest floors that defy even the most sensibly-soled winter boot.

I have retired Blackie for the winter after nearly giving myself pneumonia attempting a leisure ride to Wimbledon Park last month, and now the train is my transport mode of choice. Viewed from the window of a train London still looks 100 years ago – all pointed rooftops and irregular chimney pots – and even though I only travel between zones 1 and 3, catching the train home makes me feel definitely that I am no longer at work. (Proust observed that the train makes “the difference between departure and arrival not as unnoticeable as possible, but as profound as possible”.* How true that is!)

Love Tillie

Wimbledon Station’s evil floors

*In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, trans. James Grieve (London: Allen Lane / The Penguin Press, 2002), 223-224. I never made it past the second book of In Search of Lost Time, in case you’re wondering.