This morning, I was on the last train out of Hamburg. Then, Germany’s train system started to shut down.
L.A. proved too much for the man…
So he’s leaving a life he’s come to know,
He said he’s going back to find
what’s left of his world
The world he left behind not so long ago
My plans to visit Pádraig this morning did not work out. Instead of going to the hospital, I went really early straight to the station when I heard that the train drivers would go on strike from 2pm.
No one on the train knew how far it would make it. Would it just stop at 2pm? Would the train driver just walk away? Not the friendly lady on the free Bundesbahninformationstelefonbeantwortungsdienst nor the train conductor knew. After four hours of uncertainty we arrived in Frankfurt. The magic time of 2pm past. And the train continued to Mannheim where I had to change trains. Of course, there was no connection. The friendly lady from the Bundesbahnnahverkehrsinformationsdienstaufsicht said she didn’t know when the next train to Rot-Malsch (where I am working today and tomorrow) was going to leave – she’d know, she said, not when the train was going to come into the station but only the moment it was going to leave. Which is when I decided to get a taxi for the remainder of the journey.
So much for German Pünktlichkeit und Verlässlichkeit!
It was the second day since the accident that no one had visited Pádraig. When I rang the hospital they told me that his oxygen levels had gone down at times this morning over a period of 30 minutes or an hour. They had to suction him and give him oxygen for a short while. In the afternoon they did an x-ray just to be sure that there was no infection developing. There didn’t seem to, and whatever had happened in the morning had disappeared in the afternoon.
For some reason, this stuff has happened over the past week or two, in the morning only. And only when we are not there.
You know, I spent close to 15 years on the train to the west of Ireland. I made friends on that train, spilled coffee over my keyboard, missed to get off at Limerick Junction to change trains, wrote articles and prepared presentations; there were trains where you had to open the door by pulling down the window, stick out your hand, and turn the handle; trains, where you had to wear thick wooly jumpers in the winter; trains, where you could stick out your head and feel the wind in your hair.
Watch out for the “huh huh” at 1’10″!
I always wanted to collect ‘train songs’ and make a CD or two with them. Never managed to do it. Tonight, I listened to one of the best ever songs, not just one of the best ever ‘train songs': “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and I cried. Watch it here, listen to the brilliant voice of Ms Gladys Knight and be in awe at the fabulous dance routing by the Pips, and, of course, the lyrics:
Ooh, he’s leaving
On the midnight train to Georgia, yeah, ooh y’all
(Leaving on the midnight train)
Said he’s going back to find
(Going back to find)
Ooh, a simpler place and time, ooh y’all, uh-huh
(Whenever he takes that ride, guess who’s gonna be right by his side)
I’ve got to be with him
(I know you will)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leaving on a midnight train to Georgia, woo woo)
I’d rather live in his world
(Live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
The whole song is just so incredible, but the key lines are at the end: I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine. I know, we’ll be going to Alaska. Can’t skip that. But on the way back, we might just get the Midnight Train, the Midnight Train to Georgia. And guess who’s gonna be right by his side? A million friends from all around the world, on that train, going to find, a simpler place and time! No more “zuständig”, no more Bundesbahnnotdienstinformationsauskunftsstelle. No more suctioning, oxygen, x-rays and CTs.