He stood on the platform looking beyond the Booking Office towards the tunnel mouth. Waiting was always like this. He could see Parks standing near the Gents, one hand on the trolley, ready to move forward to take the load from the Guard’s van. Mrs Beech, with her two tearaways, was sitting on the bench beneath the somewhat crudely painted town sign. From somewhere nearby – but out of sight – a goods train rattled unsteadily into the sidings. The trains were not as reliable as they used to be, he thought.
Above the tunnel entrance, the Swan Hotel still had its scaffolding up – how long had that been there! – and just near where the number thirty-six bus stood, the pale blue Humber that belonged to the bank Manager was parked – as usual! – outside the butchers.
It was a clean enough station, even if it was beginning to curl a bit at the edges. Near his feet, a slab had lifted a little; perfect tripping territory. He should really mention it to Parks later on.
Then, almost without warning, a signal arm moved; a sign of action. So he waits and looks. This should be his train; if he’s lucky pulled by one of those lovely green GWR tank engines, its coaches in the classic cream and brown livery.
But it proves to be neither. A strange amber and purple engine-less thing emerges and hurtles through the station. After it has disappeared he notices Parks is unmoved, Mrs Beech and her children are still on the bench, and his own feet remain still stuck to their plastic base.