The Hole In The Hedge Train

I’m on the early train this morning. It’s half empty and I’ve two seats to myself. Normally I get a later train where there is no room to swing a cat. I could swing several cats on this one. Simultaneously. We could have a cat swinging contest. I doubt if I’d win though. I’m not a fan of cats. Give me a medium sized dog though and I’d be fine. I’d slaughter the opposition in a medium sized dog throwing competition.

This train isn’t an express which means it stops at every station on the way into Belfast. All 367 of them. Or so it feels. We call them ‘hole in the hedge’ trains. I’ve never climbed through a hole in a hedge and wonder if they reveal some Narnia-esque kingdom. This seems unlikely as, to date, no talking otters or fauns have boarded the 6:49 to Great Victoria Street. One can live in hope, though.

My monthly ticket runs out tomorrow. It clearly says that on said ticket. Yet, my mind works differently. I fret and worry that the conductor will say it runs out today and hauls me off the train into the arms of the waiting constabulary. My career and life in ruins, a social pariah all for the sake of a £9.60 return. This is how OCD works. Never mind mole hills. It turns flecks of dust into Everests of the subconscious.

The automated voice lady is earning her corn today. In seven years doing this journey, I’ve never been able to place her accent. It’s a not quite anything accent. Saying that, she always brings her A game and never gets a word wrong. I wonder who she is and how much she got paid for perfectly pronouncing every ‘hole in the hedge’ service between Newry and Bangor. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough.

I often imagine she is an out of work Shakespearean actor reduced to reading train timetables in order to keep the wolves from the door. How demeaning for her. I bet she does a mean Lady Macbeth and dreams of plunging a dagger into the heart of the agent who booked her this rubbish gig. Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble indeed. Thankfully I have yet to encounter the ghost of Banquo.

The train is starting to fill up now with ‘hole in the hedge people.’ Given they reside in fields and start their working days clambering through muddy ditches, they all look very presentable. Not a hair out of place, or a stray twig to be seen. Maybe it’s magic or possibly they have so perfected their morning routines they can slide effortlessly past thorn and bramble. It’s quite the achievement.

We are entering the suburbs now. The city is starting to stir and reality is beginning to settle on this magical train as it trundles through the murky morning. City types will be getting on at the next stop. There are no hedges on this section of the line. I will have to stop writing gibberish soon and don my grown up mask. I am entering the world of the grown ups. I don’t fit in here. I like to gibber.

Sometimes it helps to gibber. To just write, to free flow. To stop worrying about what you think other people want to read and just purge your head of all the nonsense floating around inside. I may gibber more in the future, I may not. Anyway I am nearing my final destination. There are no more stops. The day has started in earnest now. It’s time to smile and face the big, bad world. It’s time to play the game.

39 thoughts on “The Hole In The Hedge Train

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  1. fun read. i enjoyed the freeflow. weird random fact i know – “swinging a cat” refers to a cat-o-nine-tails, which would make for a very interesting commute.

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  2. Smile Stephen! Please :)! Will you!!? I’m having a not so great day strictly due to putting on my dark glasses to see the world through! Let’s drink some ‘diet coke’ and cheer to…the wonderful absurdity of life 🥂

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  3. Speaking of talking fauns from Narnia, I was talking with J-M (a blogger from Australia) last week about strange encounters and he told me his friends encountered a talking faun while camping. He said they were sitting around the campfire when a faun (like Mr. Tumnus) walked up to the fire to warm himself and said, “Chilly tonight, isn’t it?” He said none of his friends spoke with him, then it just walked away. J-M said they were lucky that it was nice because they have been known to attack and eat people. I’m still not sure what to make of that story. If it did happen, then it was probably some kind of spiritual evil masquerading as a faun. As far as I know fauns are not real, but then again they say the same thing about Bigfoot and people see them all the time. Even right where we camp and fish here in Colorado. I really don’t know and I digress since I’m the one gibbering now. 🙂 God bless!

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  4. Love this stream of consciousness. You create the picture in my head. Reminds me of Virginia Woolf. I write like this often. It’s the only way I get started some days.

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  5. And you wonder if people would talk to you on the train? This would be a fun conversation to have, looking for the signs of hedges, talking beaver, or even Reepicheep! Fauns, not so much. I’m not sure I trust them not to leave “nuggets”….

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