Continental Train Journey

Continental Train Journey

The joy and romance of a continental train journey
A feeling of excitement and even mystery
Each and every destination seems exotic
Despite the fact that many are quite quotidian

Perhaps it is the element of the unfamiliar
The anxiety of ensuring you are on the right platform
That you line up at the point for your intended coach
And not forgetting to compostez votre billet in the yellow machine!

The train trundles in to the station and you scramble aboard
If you have reserved your seat, can you find it?
Perhaps it is upstairs! A feature unfamiliar in Britain
Soon the journey starts, are we travelling in the wrong direction?
Who knows? Who cares?

We steadily progress through the suburbs and into the hinterland
Fields of stony ground support the serried ranks of vines
We are in the South of France where vineyards abound
Perhaps you prefer the olives, here in equal abundance

We gaze out at red tiled roofs and farm steadings
They seem to stretch for miles in every direction
No wonder the French are keen to support agriculture
It is claimed most city dwellers are only one generation from the land

Sometimes, at a distance, we catch sight of an ancient hilltop monastery
For centuries home to a venerated religious community
Offering up prayers for this profane world
As they devoted themselves to their Order

As you look out across the landscape little things surprise
The pylons seem like elaborate constructions from coat-hangers
And of course, who can ignore the railside graffiti?
Far exceeding the art of David Hockney or Jackson Pollock!

Inside the train we are not neglected and if you travel TGV
Or similar, you may be served a very civilized lunch with wine
And always the sun seems to shine perpetually
Surely this affects the outlook – warming the soul – who needs the wine?

One disconcerting feature which can concern the traveller
in a foreign land, is the on-board announcement to passengers
Schoolboy French provides about ten percent of the message
Check how the natives are reacting – then follow the crowd!

This journey is but a mere snap shot, a transient moment
In our life and theirs. But as the track bisects land
Little cameos of local life flash before our eyes in rapid succession
And in some small part we catch a glimpse of similarity and difference

In due time we reach our destination and climb down
to the platform – We know what sortie means!
So we emerge on to the station concourse
In expectation of further delights of the unfamiliar

Ken Fisher

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