From this train window I see bare winter fields. Horses. Houses. Deserted stations. Tracks and pathways: a green fence disappearing into water logged ground. Industrial murk. A fox emerges out of scrub, glimpsed and gone, what was it carrying?
The man opposite is chesty, sniffing, snuffling, can’t stop coughing. He’s wearing baseball boots. I return to the scene slipping by, blurring, merging with the grime on the window, the clattering train, murmuring voices in the carriage
I remember watching a rabbit crossing the cracked and broken concrete surface of the Spanish City Amusement Park. The rides long since gone, just marks in the memory, scars on the ground. These days a travelling fair stops on the Links, above the beach, for a week, then disappears for another year.
Words, phrases, snatches of remembered conversation, returning again to your wandering, still trying to understand the compulsion.
‘It was free, didn’t need money. Just stepped out the door and away along that road. Enjoyed the movement. Never felt comfortable anywhere, never settled.’’
‘How did you live, eat?’
‘Hand to mouth, sometimes nothing for days, and then when there was work I’d eat, sleep in a bed, cheap rooming houses, that sort of thing. Good times. What I remember anyway, what with one place merging into another, and now so much lost, forgotten. And now maybe one more stroll while I still have the energy.
‘Where would you go?
‘Don’t know. It’s a big place this world of ours.’
‘Just thinking. It’s lovely to let myself wander, walk a thousand miles from this chair to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, isn’t that a funny thought? Maybe it’s enough to walk on the beach, and out along the coast. It was different when you were growing up. Good to be around for your Mam and you.’
‘Did she ever tell you how much that meant?’
‘She did, in her own way. And we had some fun didn’t we? What with all the walking, playing, beach combing, long days wandering along the coast, you seemed to enjoy yourself?’
I did. Sitting in this clattering carriage, staring out of a scratched and dirty window at the disappearing landscape, thinking that you’re nothing more than an echo felt when I least expect it, but with me, in some way always here.