Saturday, September 22, 2012

Living in fragments

I've just finished watching the 1992 Merchant-Ivory movie of Howards End which reminded me how much I love EM Forster, and that I must re-read him - it's been years. So should you. Also, cast your eyes to the right, and there is the dedication from that novel: "Only connect", which I use in a very superficial manner, but the concept of which of course simply suffuses his story, about the buttoned-up Wilcoxes and the intense Schlegels, about the prose and the passion, and unconnected arches.

The 21 arches in my photo are beautifully connected, and curved: McAlpine's Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland, and that's the Jacobite crossing it, which stood in for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. There were a lot of lovely steam trains in the Forster movie, and echoing railway stations - such a gift to directors, almost a cliché, they're such romantic places, as full of meetings and partings as airports, but so much more atmospheric.

Having written 26 stories and 28 blog entries (not this one: Air France) since getting back from Europe in June, I've got just two more to do next week to complete my commissions and clear the decks ready for the next lot of travel - and those two are about travelling around Europe by train. I didn't have the time to do a proper expedition, but on one day going from Dijon to Surrey I took 7 separate trains; and on another I spent the entire day on the train from Berlin to Budapest, not reading but looking out of the window and watching the day pass in real time as Germany and the Czech Republic and Hungary went by outside. Some people might have found it boring, but I loved the feeling of being both unconnected, or unplugged, in the sense of having nothing to do but sit and gaze and daydream, as well as connected to the journey in a way you never are in the limbo of an aircraft. Though, I have to say, modern trains, while faster and more comfortable, have lost a lot of their romance after years of 'improvements'.

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