Maybe not but it certainly makes you think. It’s been my little secret, not exactly a dirty one but certainly one that I would be cautious about admitting to a wider audience. It may be that people will see me in a different light after this confessional blog. Is this what I want? Should I consider the implications before going ahead. Ah, what the heck, too late now, I’m too old to be discrete.
Let me explain. I had always expected trains to figure in our retirement activities. Before we retired we planned to regularly take train trips to different parts of the country (with our senior rail cards) with a view to visiting various cathedrals or churches. That was the plan until somebody (that would be me) brought home a couple of dogs. It’s not that they haven’t traveled by train and may well do so again but deliberately setting us all up for a couple of hours or more in a confined space and with other people who may just possibly not like dogs, hasn’t seemed like one of my better schemes. Shame really, no doubt as they get older they will settle down but unfortunately so will we in the sense of not wanting to travel. Time will tell.
And my guilty little secret? Well it all started harmlessly enough, but then I suppose our weaknesses often do. I guess I can trace it back to my new phone I never had these challenges with my old phone but then it didn’t do a great deal. This phone completely unbidden sends me little videos. I don’t know whether they are Youtube clips or something entirely different. I only know that I didn’t ask for them but they keep on coming. A bit like … wish I could think of something clever to say. Topsy?
At first they were jazz lessons and, as such, welcomed by me. I don’t do very much (anything) in the way of practice between workshops / lessons so this passive watching of tutorials at least enabled me to kid myself that I was taking my learning goals seriously. They were pretty good and I did learn some stuff or at least reinforced what I was doing in class. But it didn’t stop there. Out of nowhere, at least as far as I can tell, started coming these railway clips. Slowly at first and then in a, so far no end in sight, stream. Quite weirdly they started modestly in England, although Scotland’s started to creep in, often showing the view from the driver’s cab of an innocuous short journey on some branch line somewhere or an above ground ride on a dull section of the Underground, if that doesn’t sound like an oxymoron. By the way there’s another section I have a particular weakness for – ghost stations and lost lines. No? Maybe it’s just me then.
But it did not stop there, gosh no and so my addiction grew and that dear reader is what it has become, to the point that I am indeed wondering if this might not be the missing link of which I have written so very often. If we are at our main home (and thank God or whoever this is the only place it’s an option because my phone feeds off my router and I don’t have an internet connection in any of our other houses although watch this space for the Derbyshire cottage and my neighbour’s internet connection – with his permission of course) then I can watch these vicarious journeys on my phone. Somehow watching them on my phone with its small screen, makes the sin, for that is how it feels, a little less serious. How many times have I worried about wasting my life and now this…
So my habit has become when at ‘home’, after we’ve walked the dogs (not, so far at least, a total loss of moral fibre) and had breakfast, I take my coffee into the other room, sit on the sofa, am joined by the dogs, one on either side, and I select a train ride. I’m not just on the soft journeys now but dabbling with the harder stuff. I’m in the midst of a Norway fest. For some reason, well in one way it’s obvious – it’s the views, duh – Norway is very popular. There is a downside however as we discovered when we took an actual train ride in Norway way before we had the doggies and that in one word is – tunnels. We bought a ticket to several stops along the line (expensive tickets) from Bergen with the idea of seeing some spectacular Norwegian scenery. What we actually saw was the inside of some spectacular tunnels. Probably 90% of our journey was inside the mountains (interesting for a short while) rather than views of them. How we laughed.
Such was the way with these little clips. I say little but not so little. I confessed to my son-in-law that I had been watching these films in secret. He took the news calmly. How long do you watch, he enquired nervously? Three hours, forty two minutes and ten seconds I replied giving him the first figure that came to mind, admittedly a long (but true) one but all of them, given they are the real-time journey are at least half an hour. He went a little pale but I assured him I didn’t sit there vegetable-like for all that time, just a portion and no I’m not going to tell what size the portion.
The problem is that, like drugs that are addictive (aren’t they all?), I’m in danger of getting into the hard stuff. A glance now at my phone shows that, lined up, are – Canada from Coast to Coast; the Trans-Siberian (and it doesn’t get any more hard core than that); South America somewhere, the TGV in France and so on and on. Dear God, or whoever, they’ve started sending me ships and planes now. I’m going to have to admit that this retirement business is getting stranger and stranger. I don’t even want to think where it’s all going to end. Nowhere good that’s for sure. True I do want to find the missing link, who doesn’t? But not like this.