No Delay

Mark got himself ready for work quickly and with no real thought to the amount of noise he was making. When he moved into the kitchen he faltered. He walked out again closing the door with gentle precision. Clair was asleep, hunched over the kitchen table surrounded by cuttings, books, glue and a particularly extreme looking pair of scissors. He did not want to wake her; if he did she would have just started working again. He cycled the ten minutes or so to work and admired, as he did every morning at this time of year how eerie the railway looked with daylight started to force its way through the dawn. He got off his bike and pushed it through the gates and along to the shed. He had finally been allowed to keep his bike in the shed after his last one had been stolen, he had purchased the padlock himself. As he walked round to the ticket office he stopped for a moment. A small dog chasing a chip paper that had been caught by the wind caught his attention. The animal moved with measured excitement balking in defiance every time a gust of wind moved the paper too far from its grasp. Mark moved past the ticket office and into the guard’s station. He set about making himself the first cup of tea of the day. He was as usual the first to arrive and he cherished the solitude at this time of the day. It allowed him to ease himself into the day, a moment of reflection before the madness ensued. The rest of the team would soon appear ready to take over from the skeleton night shift that ended at half past. He looked in his pigeonhole, out of habit he assured himself rather than hope that he would be granted a place on the train-driving course. He had long given up hope of such a promotion. He sipped his cup of tea and switched the radio on pleased to find it pick perfect rather than the more usual static jumble. Maybe Clair had been right in her assertion that last nights storm would clear the air. Marks boss Andy came in and within seconds had turned the air a proverbial blue. Andy’s language always amused Mark. It sounded wrong coming from this whippet thin middle class man whose temperament reminded everyone of a golden retriever. Mark waited for the tirade to stop and then asked him what was wrong. Andy told him there was a tree down outside leister and unless it got removed quick smart they were going to end up very behind. Andy muttered today of all days and Mark asked if anything else had happened. They were up to speed with maintenance and he was not aware of anything that made today particularly special. “Turn of phrase lad, turn of phrase, its just always a bloody Monday isn’t it.” Mark nodded in sage agreement and asked him if she wanted a cup of coffee. Andy thanked him and then in an out of character gesture added that he was a good lad. Mark hung up his jacket and put on his GNER uniform jacket brushing some dust off the left shoulder. Despite its colour he felt pride when he was wearing his uniform. It made him feel important akin to a policeman or public servant. It marked him out as someone you could go to when in need of assistance. Nine times out of ten it was to tell someone where the toilets were but he had often found himself helping lost children or the disabled. On a couple of occasions summoning the transport police for a customer in distress. He headed off to the ticket office for the first section of his shift. Once he had left Andy got onto the phone. He told the person on the other end that Mark was on his way to the ticket office and would be out of the way for two hours. He said yes nodding and twirled Marks keys around his index finger smiling as he did so. Minutes after the ticket office opened the tannoy announcements started informing the general public of delays on trains coming from the south. At least it was storm damage though Mark. Leaves on the line always made him fear a jumper or maintenance gone wrong. As it was a Monday it was fairly quiet and he managed to get some paper work out of the way while the girls answered the phone calls. They hated paperwork and he hated the phones so they had long ago decided this situation was ideal. Marjorie made him a cup of tea fifteen minutes before he was going to leave, knowing it could be hours before he got around to doing so himself. He was the youngest full time worker and many of the elder female members of staff had taken him under their wing. He was pleased to be told that his first train was the last one to be suffering from delays. He went to check in with the driver and then went to see if the woman doing the buffet cart needed a hand. Not his job but they were heavy bits of equipment and he always checked on them when it was a woman. He changed at Warrington and then got on a train heading to York. After that he would be away to Aberdeen and then back again, no more changes. Midge in Aberdeen often gave him soup if it were going to be tufted out so he had hopes of a free lunch today. With Aberdeen being so near the end of the northern line they were still feeling the results of the early morning delays. No one seemed to be having a particularly good day and so he kept his head down and just got on with it putting aside hope of lunch. When he got back to base he headed to the guards station intending to get some paper work out of the way. Andy was in the office and clearly wanted to talk to him. Andy told him there would be an announcement tomorrow but that he had wanted to warn him. Marks head immediately filled with one horror after another restructuring, downsizing, and finally redundancies. Andy handed him a letter and Mark felt lead descend into his stomach. He opened the better with slightly unsteady hands. He stared at it for a moment the words taking longer than usual to be processed by his brain. Andy then patted him on the back and told him he had earned it. He told him to get away home and take that fine lass of his out to celebrate. Mark went to get his bike taking out his keys and removed the padlock. He was taken by surprise and found he expelling the contents of his lungs. His bike was transformed, it was covered with streamers, balloons and had an L plate attached to the back. Mark had never been happier, he was going to be a train driver all he had wanted since he was six years old.

No Delay


Joined February 2008

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Artist's Description

One of the storys i came up with and rejected for this years fygleave five photostory competition.

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