8.23 to Marylebone by Jim Hatfield

Western Star, battered workhorse of a locomotive,

painted in the livery of a Buddhist nun,

more accustomed to hauling freight than conveying

the likes of me in state, pulled alongside Platform 1

with a trio of vintage First Class carriages in tow;



occasioning some uncertainty among those wondering

whether or not to board, on seeing businessmen in

crisp, white, cuff-linked shirts salting breakfasts and pouring coffee

 as the leading coach eased to a halt.



Relief, was, happily, on hand when the guard, dressed

in the garb of a wine waiter at The Savoy, grandly announced,

albeit with a weary sigh, that cars 2 and 3 were free for

the hoi polloi to occupy.



Thus I made my way to Walsall in unexpected style;

seated in an armchair, with table lamp at elbow

and leg-room enough to satisfy a giraffe.

A pleasant change from the sardine-packed 8.35

that I had set out to catch.

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