Laetare Sunday: more than halfway through Lent, and it’s time for a breather from the rigours of the season. The fact that God doesn’t get a mention in this story does not mean he didn’t get a look-in. I hope you enjoy our afternoon almost as much as we did. Will.
It began as a walk to post a letter, but once at the postbox we were halfway to the level crossing, so we went there.
There was a train trundling into platform 1, but between the tracks were stop signs and red flashing lights at ground level. No trains towards London today. ‘Red means stop. Train not go past,’ said Abel.
It was as long as it was short to walk home past the station, so we went there.
The train was pulling out of platform 1. In half an hour it would leave from Platform 2, so we stayed to watch the shunting. When that was completed, Abel discovered the metal grids covering the gutters along platform 1. They made good tracks for him to drive his imaginary train along.
By the time we had spoke to the kind station man, who gave Abel half a dozen blank tickets on a roll, there was only ten minutes before the train left. We had enough money for a ride to the next station and back, so we went there.
We had to use the lifts and press the buttons on them and on the train. On the way we saw the other level crossings and some swans and the river, and the moon beginning to shine.
The next station is built across the main road – one platform on one side, one on the other. The road was so busy Abel had to be carried over. A kind man stopped his car and waited for us to cross safely. Just a few minutes before the train left from platform 1, so we went there.
When we got off the train, after more button pressing, the moon was really bright, and an aeroplane went by with its lights on. We were nearly at Grannie and Grandad’s house, so we went there.
But not straight away. In the park the gutter down the middle of the path was waiting to be a railway track again. Abel was ready to run up and down for another half hour, so Grandad found a red bike light to use as a signal. Abel put it by the track like the lights at the station. But when he wanted to move on he said ‘red means stop, yellow means get ready, green means go.’ And off he went.
Eventually we arrived at our destination.
There was one crumpet left, so we had it with Marmite; and Abel ate three-quarters.
It was almost time for Abel’s Dad to collect him, so we played for a bit, then Abel got in the car and went home in the moonlight.
He was asleep when he got there.
Another station, another time … between Belfast and Larne, July 1969.
So Happy Feast Day for Saint Patrick on Saturday!