- William Patt
the little boy who still lives
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Copenhagen Train Station, January 2016
I have always been unreasonably excited about train stations.
My first memory, of a train station, was as a child, maybe five years old. We lived in Harlow, Essex, built after WWII to ease overcrowding in London and the surrounding areas due to the devastation caused by the bombing during the Blitz. The new style was “futuristic” which translated in to concrete, glass, and strange shapes which had no function other than to be err … futuristic.
For a five year old whose parents didn’t drive, the world was as big as the distance I could walk. One Sunday, I know it was Sunday because I was at school all week and on Saturday my Dad spent the whole day in Joe Jennies the bookies [a shop where gambling was legal]. So, on a sunny Sunday morning we walked to the train station.
I can close my eyes and see it, even now, 54 years later.
The huge overhang roof, the doors with glass and brass plates to push on. The footstep echo of a vast empty ticket space. I can still feel the quiet but intense awe as I climbed the stone steps. On the front edge of each steps was a brass protective plate with criss cross shapes cut into it, for grip I suppose. And the handrails, again, brass. Highly polished bright yellow brass leading up each side of the stairs.
My shoes caused “clap clap” sounds to bounce of the square tube of the concrete walkway, and then down more steps to the platform.
I don’t remember where we were going so I can’t work out which platform I was standing on, north or south but it doesn’t matter. The beauty, or disaster of 50’s architecture, was the ability to make environments look the same.
I was the first down. The platform was empty and I experienced an almost spiritual awakening. The grey stones scattered either side of the two rails which curved off gently into the distance. Never in my young life had I seen anything as exciting as those tracks.
Many year and hundreds of train journeys later that little boy still lives and is still unreasonably excited by train stations.