The train pulls out of the station, slowly gathers speed as I head to my home town. I am cocooned in steel, my music and my own thoughts. Face tingling from the fresh air.
There are several stops to be made, familiar names from my past. At one stop a man alights and heads down the platform, bulbous headphones sit proudly on his head. In his right hand he holds a carrier bag, contents unknown, in his left he carries the rhythm of the music that he is silently, but passionately, singing along with. His step falters and I wonder if he’s about to fall, but no, that drop of his knee was in dance not error. He is happily oblivious to the world.
Music can have that effect.
The train moves on, passing schools and shops, houses and tenements. Another station and as the train pulls out I glance over at a tenement window, attracted by movement. There, framed in a window, a shirtless man looks out, he surveys his view before lazily stretching and dropping back into the darkness of the room.
Familiar views of an oft travelled path continue to reveal themselves, 70s style tower blocks loom into view, peering over us as we speed by, shopping centres illuminate the afternoon gloom and then the River Clyde appears, dark and grey, ever widening, as it continues it’s dull eyed journey to the sea.
And on we speed.
I get off the train and start to walk, taking in the memories as the slowly float into view. Past my primary school where life was simpler, past the house of where Aunt Irene lived, no longer with us. Tinge of melancholy.
A story my Mother tells pops into my head.
Me as a young boy, on the way to primary school, sitting on the wall outside my Aunt Irene’s house. My Mother had overslept and on waking to found me gone, panicked and started phoning round. On answering, my Aunt Irene assured her I was just fine and that I was sitting on her wall, daydreaming.
Onwards now, past the entrance to the lane to the school. Sudden memory of a first kiss. Past the tiny street an Uncle used to live on, his bachelor flat a wonderous place for an inquisitive boy and the first place I heard Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was also the scene of a chaotic meal, hosted by French friends of the family. To this day I’m still not sure if Pascal was winding me up when he said I would only be allowed one plate, so to wipe it clean with bread before the next course!
Onward to the street I grew up in, past the gardens I used to play in, the houses frequented. Too many memories to list, all suddenly flooding back. Overwhelming. Happiness and laughter dominate.
And then I’m home, as it will always be. My Mum waves from the window, I smile and the lyric flows over me once more:
I haven’t seen my mum for weeks,
But coming home I feel like I,
Designed these buildings I walk by.