As a youngster I used to love travelling by train on my own. Not so much because I enjoyed the nausea-inducing, bone-rattling, smoke boxes that carriages used to be, but because of The Line.
The boundary that marked the exact place you shouldn’t step beyond for fear of being sucked under the express from Clapham Junction. The minute I’d step upon the platform it would taunt me, so in response each time I would nonchalantly step on it. It was important to look as casual as possible, of course, in case a member of staff happened to catch me, whereby I could stare back wide-eyed and innocent… “Sorry, what ? Oh *this* line? I didn’t notice…”
Then there were the times when no staff were around ( which was 90% of the time. I lived in a small town that seemed to be permanently stuck in the 60’s and appeared to give off some sort of tangerine-hued aura ). I would step right over the line and wait for the fast train to hurtle through at a speed that would seem to imply that trains are allergic to orange.
It’s often said of young’uns “It was as if they felt themselves to be immortal..” This was not the case for me, I was more than aware I was opening myself up to potentially being sucked off the “Don’t Step Here!” zone and within half an hour some poor bugger would be in charge of scraping me off the line with a spatula.
Maybe it’s just that at that age I had so little comprehension of just what a gift life is. Which would explain why I became such a Grade A wuss once I had children of my own.
It goes without saying that, if given a choice, I tend to travel by bus with them.