Monday, 7 September 2009
The Rainy Day Book
Guardian Books has just published this collection of short pieces from the newspaper's entertaining 'If I had the time...' column. Here's one of mine:
Most young children like playing with trains, but my two-year-old enjoys watching them too. We live a few minutes' walk from a suburban station, and when he's grumpy we go down there and sit on the platform.
Admittedly, it isn't much of a station. Once there was a splendid footbridge but that is long gone. A metal shelter offers passengers protection from the elements, but we sit bundled up on an exposed bench and wait. Nothing happens. We chat about the trains we are going to see, count crows and look for planes. My son is patience personified. Half an hour passes and he is still perfectly happy. Suddenly a signal turns from red to green. The rails start to hum. We hold our breath. Will the train have trucks or coaches? Will it be a huge one or a tiny one? The local bus-on-rails trundles into view and stops. We say hello to the people getting off and then wave as the train departs. A minute later a woman comes breathlessly up the ramp. "I thought I'd missed it," she says. "Then I saw you."
"I'm afraid you have missed it," I tell her, embarrassed. "We're not waiting for a train."
She looks confused.
"We watching trains," my son says importantly. He peers down the track, looking out for the next one.