Saturday, 11 April 2015

Poem 10: Billy Bragg Plays Watford Junction

Billy Bragg Plays Watford Junction


The journey: playfully meandering

You expect taxi drivers to take the scenic route,

but trains do too these days.

Taxis cover more ground to fluff the fare

yet trains are the polar opposite.

Take the long way round through

unloved stations like Croyden East and the

gold nuggets of bargain fares are yours for the mining.


This is modern British Train travel:

where you can buy a cheaper ticket

to go further than you wish to travel,

yet dare to get off before the named station and

that’s as criminal as murder.

You need the skills of a famed fictional criminologist too

if you’re to detect the cheap fares,

hidden in obfuscating websites

deliberately wept under the carpet of

small print and confusing pricing structures.

In the spirit of Illigitimi non carborundum I persevered, undercovered an eight pound fare.


So it was in March, I set off

on the opposite of an express train,

stopping at so many stations

I swear it must have doubled back

when I wasn’t paying attention.

The inevitable cancellation and work around route

added a familiar spice to pot.


Unexpectedly, waiting on a Watford platform

Billy’s time came.

Raw and spiky electric chords,

lyrics like a buzz saw,  

seasoned with emotion

subtle as a chess gambit with

checkmate three moves away.

Finally, gasping asthmatically

the last leg of the journey

drew itself into the station to cap

an educational experience:

thirty minutes of Billy Bragg

will get you through anything.

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