An odd incident this week. A kid on a bike – maybe about 13/14 – came riding past the station and slowed to a stop.
“Hello! Do you recognize me?” he called out. “You used to yell at me and my friends for riding on the back of trains.”
I’ve been doing this job for 14 years now and I expected abuse at this point.
“I was only trying to save your lives,” I said defensively.“ It’s a very dangerous thing to do.”
“Yeah! We’ve stopped doing it now,” he said
And he turned round and cycled back up the hill.
Arrived at my station on Monday to discover something lovely had appeared over the weekend.
These delightful little shopping trolleys planted with sunflowers are chained to fences at stations all along the Upfield line and apparently all along the Hershey Electrical rail line in Havana as well. The chaining means that those who are amused by pushing shopping trolleys under trains will hopefully find it too much trouble to do.
Sunflowers with morning glories at Brunswick station
The trolleys have been fascinating people all week and several times I just missed taking meltingly cute pictures of small children in sun hats looking up at them. (I shall keep trying but the little so and so’s move so quickly) The adult passengers ask me if it’s a railway initiative. When I tell them it’s an art project a lot of them make harrumphing noises indicting the serious practical part of them is disapproving of such frivolity. But I always get the feeling that underneath another part of them is delighted. Every time I look, someone is lingering near the shopping trolley reading the little yellow tags.
Myself I think it’s wonderful to be part of an art project and it’s a great use of shopping trolleys
At Zoo station someone is watering the trolleys. At the Junction the staff have adopted theirs and keep them well watered. The trolleys at the unmanned stations are fairing less well. This week’s heat has made them look sad and dried out and I wish people would kidnap them and take them home. As far as I know none of them have traveled yet, though iIhave heard people plotting.
Ben Moreison, the artist, was responsible for this was also responsible for Fieldwork 1, the huge field of sunflowers grown in a piece of waste ground near Macaulay station back in 2014. I’m glad to see he’s still sunflowering. Here’s the link to the video of it. I was a really pleasure to see the field everyday from the passing train.
This project is part of the Havana Biennale in Cuba and involves a series of active art projects in Australia and Cuba based on or around the Hershey Train, Havana and the Upfield Railway Line, Melbourne under the auspices of RMIT and a number of other organisations both here an in Cuba
Hershey Electric Railway line in Cuba. Courtesy of Wikimedia
Check out this Gay Time Travel Romance (with hot man on man action) by my Alter-ego Rebecca Locksley
Ebook just out from eXtasy Books
If you share this with interested friends I will be deeply grateful.
Pooh and Piglet
Creative Commons image
The International AFL Cup is being played in the park nearby and footballers from countries such as PNG, Fiji and Croatia as catching trains at my station.
While the French team wait, one of the players pulls a Winnie the Pooh book out of my children’s book box and starts reading it to the others who “oooh” and”‘ahh” at all the sentimental bits about the importance of friendship.
Outside freezing rain is streaming down, but inside I am being treated to the sound a Frenchman saying the word “Heffalump” Ooh la la! So cosy!
When people come into the station, I try to greet them with a “Hello, your city train will be here in … minutes”. This usually takes the worried look of their faces and they mostly say thank you.
The other day when I said “Hello your train will be here in 6 minutes” to the man frowning at the ticket machine, he didn’t react at all so I figured he hadn’t heard me.
He was still frowning when he came out onto the platform so thinking he was worried, I repeated my greeting.
To which he replied, “I heard you before. I just didn’t want to talk to you.”
This startling piece of rudeness put me in my place and no doubt relieved whatever tension he was feeling.
But be aware, any rudeness I experience from customers, I assume is directed at my uniform. So I don’t take it personally. Instead I store it up to giggle over with my work mates later., Which is what we did that day.
It’s after midnight on a Sunday night and I’m standing on a freezing station platform wishing the last train would hurry up and come in. I’ve been rostered on to help with the Occupation, but the thrill of earning overtime has well and truly worn off.
This Occupation has nothing to do with the German Army or the Occupy Wall Street movement. Instead the tracks are being “occupied” by construction workers, beginning the long slow process of lowering the train track under a road ahead so that the level crossings can be removed. I suspect in this instance the term “occupation” may spring from the tribalism of the railway workers of yesteryear who regarded construction workers as “outsiders” in their territory.
My part in this great task is to make sure everyone gets off the train and onto the buses that service the stations further up the line. I even get to make announcements through a microphone. As the evening chills and the trains get further and further apart my work mate and I take to walking 7 minutes round to the station house to get warm and eat too many biscuits and 7 minutes back before the train comes in. This trek really helps pass the time. A suburban railway station on a Sunday night is NOT an exciting place.
We are abused by a South American lady who has missed her train by several minutes because there are no signs up. (There are signs everywhere but somehow it’s never enough) But I am also given a little KitKat by a young woman in a veil after I help her locate the husband she’s mislaid on the train. Swings and Roundabouts.
Between customers we chat to the train/drivers, the casual customer service staff and the flagman whose job it is to stand by the tracks holding a red lantern to prevent the trains accidentally going further and hitting the workers. I had a friend who was a flagman and used to wax lyrical about how romantic and magical the still early morning hours were.
The clear starry night sky with its half lemon of a moon is indeed magical but even the romance of the midnight hour cannot disguise the ugliness of this suburban station with its asphalt platforms, its rubbish strewn gravel car park, and the barbed wire fence hung with shreds of plastic. Twice we see rats scurrying around on the tracks.
At long last, its 12.45. The last train has gone and it’s time to pack up the buses and signs. But the flag man is still there standing by the tracks with his lantern. This is because of “ghost trains” – unscheduled empty trains that are moved about the system in order to be in place for Monday morning’s rush hour. He will be there standing by there until the workers finish at 3 am.