Companions

Companions 27.06.16

Peterborough station is a bleak place. I remember sitting there with carla and nicola many years ago, mid journey to Leeds, unable to drive, incapacitated by a shoulder operation. I like its efficiency tho, no guessing which end of the platform I need to be, it’s clearly marked A-M so no last minute dash as the train draws near.

I’m unsure a window seat was a wise selection. I feel trapped by a blind, garrulous, self professed train geek who seems to have an innate sense of time and distance and frequently announces that there’ll be a line coming in from the left or the right and seeking clarification of afore said information. I saw him embark with assistance at Peterborough, tapping his cane but being unable to ‘mind the gap’ unaided. 
He seems to know intuitively where the overhead luggage rack is and likes to assist others despite his lack of vision. He struggled with finding the brown sauce on his plate when eating his sausage roll but has just told me, unaware that I’m typing, that I must look out, after the viaduct, for the most stunning view of Durham cathedral. I’m unsure it was actually that stunning but indeed he was right in his description of the river, the castle, cathedral and promontry. He gets off at Newcastle, welcome relief.
Four of us, all from Norwich, all seated together. Now that my earlier compatriot has departed I’m engaged in conversation with a guy working through his bucket list. Few of us have any way of telling how soon we will die and it is salutary to listen to someone who is living on borrowed time. Motivation perhaps to develop my idea of 60 things to do when I’m 60. I have started a list and do have it with me.
I thought it might be another blog in itself but it may become incorporated. I made an unplanned beginning at my birthday camp, skinny dipping at nearly midnight on the first evening, crossing off both skinny dipping and night swimming, I think they count despite being two days before my birthday. No doubt there will be a few items covered in this journey, what comes first, chicken or egg, list or action? is it significant or just serendipity when the two coincide? It feels more like aspirations than a bucket list, just time to reflect on things I would like to do now that I have the time and choices.
I realise that the one pair of trousers I should’ve brought with me I failed to even consider! My thin walking, easy dry, long/short trousers. Foolhardy. My two pairs of jeans will hold water but the easy dry walking trousers would not have fitted with my working remit which governed my choices. I’m already thinking of things to send home and things I might ask carla to bring when we meet in July. Yes, I have a built in ‘get out clause’ in July. I fly back to the uk on 28th, due to return to the faroes 1st August. It will be a year since ben died. A years experience that I cannot begin to comprehend for Nicola and poppy.
It is a wondrous thing about human nature that we remember the good things in life, that our memory sifts out the things that may not be helpful to remember. Facebook works like this too, I love the way it reminds me of things ben and I did together, of journeys we took, of how we supported each other at times in our biking friendship.
whether I manage to travel northward beyond Edinburgh in August I’m unsure, I may go walkabout instead, I’m carrying lonely planet Highlands and Islands of Scotland with me. I have a few connections.
It was news of bens brain tumour around ten years ago that took me to Newfoundland, a country I had wanted to visit for many years. flying across the Atlantic, some twenty five years earlier, I had spotted white sails in the ocean. I was amazed, how could they be sails, we were too high, yet the unmistakeable triangular shape and brilliant white against the blue ocean told me they could only be sails. I asked the stewardesses, yes, they agreed they were yachts but I was not content. Eventually, one of them asked the captain for me.  They were icebergs! He said we were flying over Newfoundland. It took me until news of bens brain tumour to make the decision to visit. that’s another travel story that doesn’t belong here yet has been brought to mind by my journey companion talking of his visits to the oncologist and the cost of his medication precluding him from living abroad. I love train journeys. This one has been generously assisted by three generous glasses of first class wine.
I hate airports. I stand in the check in queue and don’t want to go. I shuffle forward contemplating the decisions I make and the things i put myself though even though I don’t want to do them. Like a tow rope I am dragged slowly forwards until it is too late, my belongings have gone.
I now sit, cocooned in a ball of sound, not really aware of my surroundings. Distant music thrums and coffee machines whir. If I concentrate I can pick out individual sounds but it is as though I am not really here. My long day of travel will soon be over. My stomach churns, I do not want to board. 30 minutes remain. Soon I just pack this away and proceed to the boarding gate. The plane is boarding

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