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Like trains forever leaving stations.

June 24, 2012
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Since I was very young I have loved trains. My mother took me to see the last steam trains leaving the small welsh town I grew up in when they were replaced by diesel trains. Their screams and fury delighted and terrified me. At sixteen I took an overnight train and boat across Europe to Stuttgart. I remember Koln at dawn. At 19 I got an inter-rail ticket and disappeared into Europe for a month. I remember the night train from Paris to Berlin. I got drunk and found something inside myself that was very important, though I had forgotten what it was by the time I got to Berlin Zoobahnhof. There have been other journeys.

Still when I can, as today, I look for chances to travel by train. I justify the expenses environmentally, but know that the experience I seek is of utter isolation amid the crowd, of total stillness in rapid motion.

These journeys have been punctuated and sustained by station coffee bars – long counters where people pause for a short, sharp bitter shock to the system. For me, that takes the form of double expresso. This morning it was a coffee counter in Milan Central, but it could have been Berlin, Dresden, Copenhagen, Thessaloniki, Paris, Geneva, Prague, Budapest….. Always the same ritual of arriving, encountering a short dose of beautiful and bitter reality, then leaving again, usually with a backwards glance but a renewed momentum.

The workshop at Au Brana is over. We met, encountered the beautiful, sometimes bitter reality of recognising ourselves through others, and we left again – with a backward glance but a sense, I hope, of somewhere to go. It was a beautiful workshop, similar in its tenderness and bravery to many others but, like every other workshop, entirely unique. All the same, all very different.

I am grateful to the participants for making a gift of themselves.

I am on the move again.

The title of this post is a line from a song. The song, which I once used to end a show, is only just over a minute long, yet seems to contain a world within it. It is a world, like a fleeting thought on a late night train, both concrete and ungraspable.

I’ve left the station and am somewhere in the system, between one place and another. Yet I am exactly where I am, forever leaving stations.

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