Billy Bragg Plays Watford Junction
The journey: playfully meandering
You expect taxi drivers to take the scenic route,
but trains do too these days.
Taxis cover more ground to fluff the fare
yet trains are the polar opposite.
Take the long way round through
unloved stations like Croyden East and the
gold nuggets of bargain fares are yours for the mining.
This is modern British Train travel:
where you can buy a cheaper ticket
to go further than you wish to travel,
yet dare to get off before the named station and
that’s as criminal as murder.
You need the skills of a famed fictional criminologist too
if you’re to detect the cheap fares,
hidden in obfuscating websites
deliberately wept under the carpet of
small print and confusing pricing structures.
In the spirit of Illigitimi non carborundum I persevered, undercovered an eight pound fare.
So it was in March, I set off
on the opposite of an express train,
stopping at so many stations
I swear it must have doubled back
when I wasn’t paying attention.
The inevitable cancellation and work around route
added a familiar spice to pot.
Unexpectedly, waiting on a Watford platform
Billy’s time came.
Raw and spiky electric chords,
lyrics like a buzz saw,
seasoned with emotion
subtle as a chess gambit with
checkmate three moves away.
Finally, gasping asthmatically
the last leg of the journey
drew itself into the station to cap
an educational experience:
thirty minutes of Billy Bragg
will get you through anything.