Along the road to Paul
It felt almost like the Twilight Zone, getting on that train. For decades, the little train between St Ives and St Erth has been the same, slow, elderly train, probably a train that had been retired from strenuous duty and placed along the sweetest 4 miles of seashore in Cornwall.
But when I climbed aboard the St Ives train today, it wasn't the same, slow, elderly train anymore. It was a brand spanking new, state of the art, sparkling, digital, plush seated, circular toileted, rocket scientist train, one that nobody recognized. I actually thought I'd gotten on the wrong one and looked around in a daze. Where.was.my.train!?
I have to admit that the new train did a great job getting us from A to Z. It had a rolling digital readout just below the ceiling telling the passengers precisely where they were and where they were going - just in case anyone forgot. Which would be kind of hard to do with only 4 miles to go.
The train was filled with a couple of dozen small school boys either going home from school or coming back from a sports match of some kind. They were funny, loud, jokey, and brilliant, every last one of them. They looked like something out of the latest Harry Potter movie, and it made me realize what a large pool of talent the country has. They were all just great. And nary a mother among them. It was fun listening to their conversations.
"Blimey, I'm knackered," yawns one, while snatching something from his friend.
"Here-here, give me that."
"It's mine, but you can have it if you give me that."
"No but that is mine, not yours, and so you can't have it. I want that...that other."
A young man tried to intervene. Either he was a teacher, or perhaps an elder brother of one of the boys. Either way, the smaller boys listened to him, and exchanged that for this, and promptly forgot about their dispute.
Once we reached Penzance, they all piled out along with me, still chattering. They gradually dispersed themselves onto the streets of the town and things became quieter. I almost missed them.
I strolled with purpose along the Penzance Harbor, passing Newlyn and cutting upwards towards the village of Paul, where the Mousehole Male Voice Choir rehearses on Monday nights. I think I've become one of their honorary 'Roadies', making the trek up there whenever I can, to watch. There were 7 other Roadies there this time! It is splendid to hear the men singing, while trying to work out just what it is that their choir director is saying to them. It's impossible to do, but even so, it is entertaining. He is clearly hilarious, but I never know quite why.
One of the choir members gave me a ride back to St Ives and I don't think I'm over it yet. I'm sure I've never been in a faster car on a narrower road than that one. We came close on numerous occasions to either scraping the left side of our car on a hedgerow, or scraping the other side of our car against the car that was barreling at us full speed. Why must cars 'barrel', over here? Hmm? On a 7-lane freeway in California, it is almost expected. But on tiny country lanes where you can't see where you are going and there is no space for any cars at all?
I ask you.
See you along the way!
The church at Paul