"Trainspotting may be an activity of limited, and indeed questionable, appeal, but it is not a criminal offence and it is not a terrorist threat."
[Liberal Democrat transport minister, Norman Baker]
commonly worn by the British trainspotter is not compulsory, though
its basic components are nevertheless
formally recommended in all preliminary notes to
TLX - an excellent resource for any earnest
ferroequinologist, the current edition of which features recently unearthed early photos by my father, Jeremy Foster.
He's been dead for years of course
but here is the thing -
Last Monday I caught the train from Boston to Lincoln;
it was Winter – there was snow on the ground
and this man on the platform, blowing out his cheeks
looked right through me
and there was my answer.
At first I thought I was dreaming -
he had both log book and a tape recorder;
mic attached on a headset,
three spare pens in left breast pocket,
and even anyweather trousers (ankle length, they button up or else just
zip off altogether at the thigh), timetables
fanned from a clam tight armpit and
behind his glasses,
railroadiana nostalgia flashed
like it was now and he was juggling yesterday, but
before I got the chance to un-agog my tongue;
to let him know I knew
we fit like puppy and dog,
he ran across to the very far side;
the train from Newark,
was being announced on platform 2
and he was eager to see it arrive.
I threw away my twix and followed him over;
stepping inside of his footprints,
I leant forward,
rested my ear on his shoulder, sniffed his neck
and stroked the Woolworth's data notepad tucked into his thick belt. It did not
I guess it's okay to feel defensive,
spinning around, he spat this rant against my face, like:
Fuck you bitch… This […] all you think - I'm not a freak, you know – I just
love trains, live for this machinery, not
cracked in the head, not trackbasher bent
and yes - I do do other things as well -
I go to parties, I drink beer – Like to dance and drink and screw!
To take my mind off his teeth
I thought of that Pulp song too and began to imagine our wedding day;
how we would talk of this first meeting during the speeches,
recreate its brilliant drama word for word,
not even edit it clean for the children or elderly relatives
then, kneeling down at his feet in the snow,
my tongue as hot as Shakira,
I asked him:
Please will you make me a chokey like the one Miss Trunchbull has in that Roald Dahl book called Matilda?
Full of nails, and broken glass, and me inside, all cut to bloody, stranded naked – standing straight for hours in the dark?
The silence made my clothes fall off;
a tortoise in my chest,
and he said finally:
but what about my almost-crippling fondness for machinery,
surely you don't think a vintage train afficionado has the time
to build this chokey just for you?
I thought fast like a special agent:
Don't you know my face, you know
my father's Jeremy Foster.
That makes you my legal guardian according to the railway etiquette of '62
began to cry, and said: well then, I guess I'll have to try to...
then the Newark train arrived.
And he recorded its model and number next to the time,
and I got back to my feet and brushed the snow away from my bruised knees
and touched his cheek
as his face jerked and his hot sperm shot through those twitching pants that later my hands ecstatic would start to remove.