They go ‘Beep’

By MARC ROBERTSON

Tha-chank. Tha-chank. Tha-chank. The distinctive sound of doors being slammed shut all along the side of an eight-car train in England during the 1970s became so ingrained in our memory that decades passed before we realized the original sound itself doesn’t exist anymore.

Those trains were replaced years ago with all-new, all-slippery, all-efficient, all-bells-andwhistles smooth-sided things that hiss and hum and whoosh through the countryside with nary a rattle nor a clunkle.

I’d say today that it’s a shame the old trains so full of character are gone, but I can promise you that forty years ago we cursed those smelly things that thumped and swayed from village to village, unventilated save for a pair of tiny sliding windows, strewn with litter and cigarette butts, reeking of old cloth and mediocrity. We longed for a time when we might make the sixty-mile trip from our market town to the metropolis in less than a hundred minutes, when we might arrive not redolent of nicotine and dust, and when we wouldn’t have to gaze on weedy embankments, chimneypots and a million grimy windows as we lurched into the filthy city’s underbelly.

 

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