Friday 2 September 2016


The photographs from this post were taken on a journey from Madrid to Barcelona earlier in the year. I stopped over in Zaragoza for a few days on the way and visited the Goya Museum. If you get the chance to go, take it. The museum has a collection of Goya's etchings and they are superb. 
This first poem was written at this year's Purbeck Valley Folk Festival. I had travelled there by train and the substance of the poem is the announcements that were made on the platform or on the train.

Let The Train Take The Strain

It is clear the train company worries about me.
They advised I hold the handrail
when I climbed the stairs [twice],
counselled I carry water,
as the weekend will be unseasonably hot,
and if I am taken ill to disembark at the next station,
as it will be easier for them to offer me assistance.
Obviously they have heard that I forget things,
and so repeatedly reminded me
not to leave my bags or case unattended,
as they might be damaged or destroyed by the security services.
Also I am to mind the gap,
and let people exit before I attempt to board.
As I am sitting in the quiet carriage
I must not use my mobile, play music,
or annoy other passengers with the sound of my voice.
It is a pity that the railway company
does not practice what it preaches.
It is a trifle poem and does not warrant more than one reading.
This second poem was written after I took another train to Totnes. It had been sunny in Taunton but as we pulled into Exeter it began to rain.
It will teach me not to check the weather forecast.

The rain surprised me,
ambushed as I was
by my own indolence.
The summer, falling hot,
had led me to believe
such days as these
could go on forever,
until outside of Exeter,
the rain began to freckle the train windows.
The first intimation of what is to come,
the axial tilt and the fall towards the shortest day.

There is a symmetry here – rejoice.
I do have a sense of the seasons turning. Purbeck Festival always seems the end of the summer. The fall towards the shortest day is significant for me as it means it is the start of the slow turn towards the long, light, warm nights of May and June.
Sticking with the train theme here's Billy Bragg and Joe Henry with The Midnight Special off their new lp. It's out later this month and consists of songs they recorded as they travelled from Chicago by train.
They are on tour and well worth catching if you can.

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