Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Tweets I could not send

On Monday, I was in Birmingham New Street station for a while. The platforms are in a grim collection of parallel tunnels, under the station concourse. It's not a nice place to spend more than the absolute minimum of time.

I couldn't get a signal there, so couldn't tweet or do anything else online. In the tradition of Amber, these are the tweets I wanted to send, which ended up being scribbled on a discarded newspaper and sent out into the twittersphere next day. Unlike Amber's tweets, they aren't funny.
Man on the platform. Greying hair, uncombed. Baggy eyes, unkempt, glasses, odd socks. Sleep deprived. Crumpled suit. Crumpled life.
Glances, repeatedly, at the briefcase he holds. Looks at the display; calculates waiting time. Sweeps away fast food cartons from the bench.
Sits down. Stares at the briefcase. Motionless. Silent. Shoulders sag. No one else notices him, sitting statue behind the buzz of travelers.
Fiddles with briefcase locks. Stops. Looks around. I look away. Unlocks. Opens. Stares inside. Takes off his glasses, places next to him.
Reaches inside. Pulls out a picture, something framed, the cardboard prop to put upright on a desk or shelf. Holds with one hand. Stares.
Stares, keeps staring, at the picture. Doesn’t move, do anything else. Unaware of passing trains, passing people. They’re unaware of him.
Minutes pass. Trains come. Trains go.
He clutches the picture, closes the briefcase, puts his glasses back on. Stands, looks at the display. Thinking, calculating, or deciding.
Suddenly resolves. He turns around, walks with determination. Without stopping, looking at it again, puts the picture face down on a wall.
Climbs the stairs to the Navigation Street exit, disappears. Never breaks his stride, never slows down. Never looks back.
I wait a few minutes. He doesn’t come back. I lift the picture, curious, before the trash men find it, dispose, send to its landfill grave.
It’s him, at his wedding, tightly holding his new wife. Him; a little younger, happier, but unmistakably him. Enthused. Not crumpled.
The wedding photo was taken in a garden. Bright colours, flowers, blue sky. Big blue sky. Aspirational. The hopeful, newly married, couple.
And he’s left, abandoned it here, now. In a colourless, dark, tunnel underneath the ground. Accidentally, or deliberately, appropriate.
The glass in the frame is cracked, diagonally. I put it back, face down, where it was. Wondering at their back story. Wondering what next.
Wondering. Did he resolve to fix, make things work again? To give up? To try to forget? To move on? To be reborn, share a life with another?
We'll never know.
Birmingham New Street June 1974

No comments:

Post a Comment