Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Iron King III

As I mentioned in passing in a previous post, one of the fascinations of railway lines is where they split in two, with branches going off at approximately 120º, and with the possibility of a train running directly between any two of the three directions thus created. It results in what I think off as a triangle of lines, though strictly speaking it is more a deltoid, if it is roughly regular, or the cross-section of an aerofoil if it more elongated, which is usually the case when only two of the three combinations are available.

In this way it is possible to be completely surrounded by railway lines, a form of isolation that I have always found particularly fascinating. The two pictures of this phenomenon, courtesy of Google Earth, are both from where I was brought up, and I have often wandered through them just for the pleasure it gives me to be there. The truer triangle, as can be seen, is almost completely built upon, with only a small area in a corner still green, but I find it easy to imagine how it was to be fenced in, isolated from the world by the banks that support the tracks, alone in a private kingdom that can briefly be yours. I wrote a story inspired by this feeling some time ago, which I might post a bit of later.

To begin to understand how it feels you have to go to such a place and experience it. If you feel nothing, it probably means you are perfectly normal. If, however, the hair starts up on your neck and butterflies move in your stomach and you feel the urge to remain there, take a sceptre in your hand and follow with your mind each train that passes, through whatever towns and fields and bridges it crosses, to wherever it happens to be going, then you will know why I am writing this.

There is one where I live now, a modern one, raised on pillars, as you leave the city. The isolation is not so complete as you can see between the supports, but the sense of being in the middle of something very private and very large is still there. You can also see the traces where there used to be such a triangle here, in Dalston in London. although Broad Street station was closed years ago and the line removed, the route it followed can be clearly seen from the air, and followed on the ground, up to this point. There are plenty of them about. In fact, I'd like to hear of more

If, on the other hand, you prefer to live in the middle of a golf course that looks like a chromosome, then El Macero, California is the place for you.

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