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Thursday, October 30, 2003  
The joys of public transport...

Only two carriages this morning for the 8.31 from Dawlish, officially the busiest train in the county. But that's OK, because it's half-term, so the College Kids aren't aboard and seats are, if not plentiful, at least available. Anyway... there was a bloke sitting diagonally behind me across the aisle listening to his CD walkman, and as the train slowed to stop at Starcross I could hear for a brief second as the engine quieted a few notes of guitar, second-hand sound drifting in my direction. Can! But what Can? Clear notes of guitar, almost a recognisable solo or riff, suggesting that it was early. Monster Movie? No, no. Not even that early. It took me a few minutes to place it, first in terms of which album it was from, and then, in quick procession, which song. Tago Mago! "Paperhouse"! Wonderful! I was tempted to ask the guy what he was listening to, but didn't, in case I was wrong and it was bad Belgian heavy metal, but I knew it wasn't. Train ettiquette doesn't permit strangers to converse about early 70s German free-jazz-prog-rock. And of course, as mentioned mere seconds ago, the embarassment had it not been Can at all would have been unbearable at that time in the morning. I like to think the chap was actually Phill Brown, who engineered those Talk Talk albums I'm always wittering on about, but the chances of him being on the 8.31 from Dawlish are somewhat remote, so in all probability it was just some bloke who likes Can.

As I was walking down the aisle to leave the train at Exeter St. Davids I noticed another man reading Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights, and felt that, for once, the cultural intake of my fellow commuters matched my own, which gave me a sense of connection to the morning journey that I've seldom felt. The world's not such a bad place after all.

10/30/2003 03:25:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005