We flee from New York at a clickety blur at the end of the day. We have done so for an hour now and the sun is just setting across an industrial landscape that is old brick buildings (a few soft with refurbishment, the rest hard in broken abandonment), vacant weedgrown lots, rail-tracks, water towers and broken glass. Have I mentioned derelict cars and graffiti? The last tint of gold catches the towers of Philadelphia in the far distance, grey on the horizon against a grey sky threatening rain.
The coach is clean and comfortable. Tickets are clipped as we leave by a man in a conductors peak cap after the style of the French Foreign Legion’s kepi and a chit placed above us to flag our “acceptance” to the conductor as law abiding, paying customers. He needs those chits – we have four or five stops on the way to Washington and the picture could get confusing very quickly. My fellow travellers are a staid looking lot. Probably as staid as I. Business folk with laptops and Blackberries. Students. Elderly people heading home after shopping. And other professional types. (The ability to quickly run between cities without the hassle of airports must be very attractive for business people). My lucky draw companion is a middle aged women of indeterminate age, or type, though I want to place her in a trailer park somewhere. She sucks soda and eats chips non stop before she gets out at Philly. Perhaps her socks and sandals best sum her up. She is a blessing insofar as she has no cell phone into which she is shouting, nor does she speak with an affected lisp which two businessmen are doing in separate calls along the carriage. In fact she does not speak at all. Oops, I must have offended her – she has moved seats to one further down the carriage. Not that we are cramped for space. Far from it.
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