Ramble 04 – Trainstopping

It’s taken me a week to decide to write about this and how to write about it. As the Stereophonics said in one of their songs I think I should just tell it like it is.

On Friday, not last Friday, the Friday before, someone got hit by a train just outside of Kettering and East Midlands Trains services in the UK ground to a halt for a couple of hours. Whether it was a man, woman or child isn’t clear and whether it was a suicide hasn’t been confirmed. Although I think it probably was given the amount of suicides they get on that particular stretch of railway.

I was sitting on the train when it hit them. I was travelling back home after a trip out to to my work’s London office near Blackfriars Bridge to record a panel debate. It was a Friday so my boss let me catch an earlier train for a change to get back home at around five o’clock. As it happened, I didn’t get back until after seven.

I was in the front carriage as close to the driver’s compartment as you can get as a passenger. When we hit the person, the noise left me with no question that we’d hit and killed someone. I could describe it here, but I feel that wouldn’t be a nice thing to do. As the train came to a halt, I was hoping it had been a branch off a tree that we had hit, but in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t. Branches don’t make that noise.

The train manager was quick to come onto the train speaker system and tell us that they needed to investigate. As the tragedy played out he was very good in telling us when there was something worth saying about how things were progressing. The emergency services were called out and a replacement driver had to come to relieve our driver who was said to be ‘a bit shaken up but okay’. You can imagine. It’s standard practice to replace them even if they say they feel okay.

The staff who normally cater to the first class passengers came around with free water, cakes and later on coffee or tea for us. This was a kind gesture and I think part of the standard procedure to keep people calm and perhaps also to potentially suss out if anyone on the train (especially the front carriage) was traumatised by the event.

To be honest no-one seemed to be – most people had headphones on when it happened and there were only a handful of people in the front carriage. It was only in the following days that I began to reflect on the event. If it was a suicide, what drives someone to throw themselves in front of a train? My own mortality and happiness in life came under the microscope somewhat.

At the time I checked my work emails, tried and failed to have a nap (the prospect of missing out on free shortbread kept me awake) and read a lot of Pale Fire. Afterwards I went a bit YOLO in my head and decided to stop procrastinating about spending a bit of money on a new television.

I chose life. I chose a fucking big television. Chose a PlayStation Pro and new 4K receiver. Chose DIY and wondering who the fuck I am on a Sunday morning. Chose sitting on a couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing reality shows, stuffing crisps and chocolate into my mouth. Chose rotting away at the end of it all…

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

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