On the train to Montfort L’Amaury from Montparnasse, the station famous for the photo of a steam train ploughing through the walls. Heading west of Paris on a double decker and the buildings beside the tracks crane their necks over the train. B and Bs, blocks of flats, office blocks, bicycles on balconies, Christmas trees left outside 10 or 12 stories up. A group of youths playing football. Cranes overhead cantilevered by concrete. Above a playground. A young woman on a bike wearing a rucksack maybe going off to school. They go to school in France on Saturday morning I think. And now I pass through the suburbs. The buildings getting smaller now. We pass an Observatory on the hill and I see the Eiffel Tower for a moment for the first time and there it goes. There is a building with trees on the roof. And Christmas trees being taken down in public squares. Looking naked without their lights. I have a red rose in my bag. I bought it at Montparnasse. I thought I would leave it at Ravel’s house. But now I wonder if I should take it everywhere and let the documentation become the act of remembrance. There will be something about taking a rose across Europe as it wilts and dies. By the time I get to the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo it will have forgotten what it’s like to be a flower. I may throw it off the bridge into the river. I may bring it home to Nottingham, to Bolero square. Or give it to Torvill and Dean if I ever meet them. I am listening to Bolero again. This will be a 30 minute journey so I may listen to it twice. There is more green that grey now in the view. The spaces between buildings is opening up. The Bois de Boulogne is in view and we are approaching Versailles-Chantilly. A man runs alone around a running track sweating in the rain. A man beside me reads a graphic novel with a futuristic building on the front that looks like the Eiffel Tower. Bolero soundtracks all of this and I feel, not for the first time this weekend, that I am walking into a film. A man standing on the train platform staring at the screen, waiting for his train, becomes a character on a stage to this music. Waiting. A man offering a written letter to passengers telling them why he would like them to give him some money becomes more melancholy to this music. And the train starts again. We hurtle through the forest past allotments and lakes and sheds and what looks like a shanty town of broken down buildings and the speed of the train matches the urgency of the music. I have to turn the music down. In case anyone complains. I took the rose into the ticket office to enquire about the train for Montfort L’Amaury and the woman behind the desk thought the rose was for her. I told I would come back tomorrow. Bolero started again without me noticing and I didn’t notice it until 3 and half minutes into the music. At the same time ther are open green fields to our right as the train in leaving the city now. People get off the train and they are walking more slowly now. The pace of life is different here. There is no hurry sickness. No Metro-Boulot-Dodo. The train is nearly empty and we have stopped twice so it may be that I will be the only person to get off at the next stop. The train’s horn sounds and it merges with the music and the drums in the music, the timpani or percussion, sound like the workings of a train.


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