‘The home of Festival Place’ is how thesigns announce Basingstoke. You look out at the bland new builds and hoardings and admire their optimism.
On the platform a scrum of winter coats and scarves stand poised to cram into the vacated space like a flipped hourglass.
In Barnsley the top of the Metrodome sticks up above the town like a minaret, calling the population to aquarobics.
As the woman speaks the man empathises at pace. ‘Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah’ An unrelenting staccato of machine-gun affinity.
Out of season back gardens are unkempt and overgrown, pubs with weatherproof banners urging people to ‘Watch rugby here’.
Commuters pour from platforms towards the Underground, a murky grey funnel, like rain water down a drain.
At the station a ‘Welcome to Blythe Bridge’ sign is somewhat undermined by the shards of broken glass embedded in the wall behind the platform.
Buildings demolished, all that remains is a huge expanse of concrete; a paved field across which two men with briefcases walk briskly side by side, as if ten years late for a meeting.
Sited in the middle of nowhere, adjacent to nothing more than a footbridge and a dual carriageway – if this is all there is to central Telford you dread to think how lifeless the suburbs are.
A woman clutches a handbag too tightly. A man sleeps with his headphones in, and a half eaten baguette resting on his chest. Somewhere behind me an elderly lady makes an unhelpful phone call.
As we pass through Stratford a tube train burrows underground whilst a family argue over window seats.