Saturday, October 27, 2007

story, headgear, Christmas

As I wait for the Tunbridge Wells train on Sevenoaks station, a goods train passes. It consists of open wagons loaded with hardcore. It is a long train and I have time to tell myself a story about it. I vault on to one of the wagons and cadge a lift like a hobo in the American west. The Welsh poet, W H Davies lost a leg doing this, but in my story, I retain mine. The story continues later, when I pass the goods train, standing at the entrance to Tunbridge station. Beside it is a crab apple tree spilling its fruit on to the embankment. I climb down from my wagon, which is beginning to become uncomfortable, and collect pocketfulls of the apples. I hitchhike home, chop and boil the apples, strain the mush through a muslin bag for 12 hours or so, and the next morning, make a translucent, amber jelly.

As I step on to the zebra crossing on the Frant Road, I am greeted by a man, whom we have met on one or two occasions outside the bar in the Pantiles. "Are we going in the same direction?" he says. "last time I saw you, you were wearing a beret. Today you're wearing a different hat. It's quite a good idea to wear a different hat every day. They seem to be bringing hats back!" I am unable to contribute to the conversation because, at this point, our ways part.

Though we are still in October, a group of men with ladders are at work in the Pantiles assembling Christmas decorations. The white pillars of the arcade are already adorned with plastic pine foliage, which winds round them like snakes. The same foliage is on the bandstand with the addition of red and gold baubles, and a string of lights not yet switched on.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Put a lemon or rose geranium leaf in that crab jelly, it makes it taste like Turkish delight. (I'm sure there must have been a plant growing somewhere along your exciting route!)