Remembrance

train

11th November 2008: Remembrance Sunday.

He sits on the train platform reading. People mingle on the platform, but it isn’t busy. He wouldn’t call it busy. He’s reading ‘Regeneration’ by Pat Barker and Billy Prior is at the beach for the weekend. The tannoy bleats out into the warm air.

 “At eleven o’clock, this remembrance Sunday, we would like to offer our staff and customers a two minute silence to reflect on the human price of conflict.” It’s ten fifty six.

Next to him an oriental couple talk quickly and in staccato. He doesn’t understand it. A forty-something year old man with a granite jaw sits next to his blonde wife. He calls her Pammy. A few others dot the platform, moving around in a malaise as one often does when waiting for a train.

In his novel, Prior passed amongst the tourists and holiday makers like a ghost, as they suck their fingers and swirl their tongues around ice cream cones.

 “At eleven o’clock this remembrance Sunday we would like to offer our staff and costumers a two minute silence to reflect on the human price of conflict.” It’s ten fifty eight.

Pammy’s phone rings and she answers, relaying to the hard-jawed husband, “it’s me sister.” An older couple, somewhere in their fifties, stand just outside the platform, locking their car.

In the novel, Prior is still on the beach, watching all the holiday-makers squeeze every last drop of pleasure out of their day.

 “At eleven o’clock this remembrance Sunday we would like to offer out staff and costumers a two minute silence to reflect on the human price of conflict.” It’s ten fifty nine.

He closes his book. Looking up and down the platform, he pays more attention to the sounds.

 “It’s me gran’s ninetieth, Martin. Dawn wants to know what we should get her? She’s having her party, yeah?” The oriental couple continue. He doesn’t understand it. He holds the novel in his hands and watches each for a time.

 “This remembrance Sunday we would like to offer out staff and costumers a two minute silence to reflect on the human price of conflict beginning now.”

 

The oriental couple next to him continue their sing-song conversation. A couple of students arrive late and discuss the eleven fifty-four to Euston. He watches as a woman answers her mobile phone, she walks out into the car park.

 Pammy says, “what about a stripper for me Nan?”

 “Yeah a big black stripper,” said Martin in the background, “with a big black cock.” The man locking his car came inside, his wife runs after him saying, “I need one pound eighty for the car park!”

 The back of Martin’s suit jacket is stretched over his shoulders, the beef-pink skin of his neck visible over the collar line. The straps on his wife’s shoes dig into her heels. A laugh that rings from the diaphragm comes from further down the platform.

 “I know,” says Martin in his growl, “get her some jewellery, at least you know you’ll get it back pretty soon. Har. Har.”

The two minutes pass and he turns to his book, opens it, and continues reading.

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