r a i l s

990320.1043 intercity train tween paddington and penzance

leaving london . the density of building steadily decreasing . from close-packed residential and office to sprawling industrial , punctuated with scrapped cars and derelict scrubland .

i awoke this morning at christian’s . good news : the sun was bright in the window . bad news : it was an hour later than planned . too late for any hope of catching the 0815 train . which i would need to catch in order to make the 1525 bus from penzance station to land’s end airport . which i would need to be on to connect with the last flight of the day . and if i miss that i’ve no hope of getting to piers and rachel’s wedding tomorrow on agnes .

so a foolish-feeling start to the day . but it was too late to be worth rushing for the train so i got up and went out to stand on the roof terrace , still blurry from sleep and larglely unclothed . high up on the fringe of hampstead heath , looking out over the whole flat plain of london . rogers’ millennium dome in the east , goldfinger’s trellick tower in the west . crisp air strong sun shadow buildings trees morning-mist-entwined . from such a vantage point and under such conditions london is beautiful .

i checked my psion , on which i downloaded the timetable information last night . the next train would get in at 1540 . so a theoretical possibility of catching the 1615 flight remained .

a couple of expressos from christian’s quirky allessi jug ( i had to phone him at work yesterday morning to ask how to open the damn thing ) . baguette and honey . clothes . pack up . christian emerged and started preparing for his trip up to cambridge for the masters’ degree ceremony . a quaint and fraudulent affair which i underwent a couple of years ago . tube to paddington . platform eight . find a seat . away .

i phoned the steamship company in penzance , who now operate the planes as well . they offered to hold the bus for me , and the flight too if necessary . so long as the forecast fog doesn’t materialise it seems i’ll make the wedding .

my planning is often sloppy and last minute . yet i keep getting away with it . even to me this seems like an unhealthy situation . every protestant fibre in my body protests that hard consequences must follow such slackness . but from somewhere else springs faith that things will generally work out , and this is repeatedly borne out . my comeuppance waits for me somewhen .

the carriage is subdued . only a couple of people talk . most sit back and contemplate the passing countryside or lower their heads in books and papers .

i have been greatly stimulated by this week in london . my thanks to craig , markl , heidi , hans , james , markp , jodi , iaki , christian , bridget . it has been a pleasure to stay with you all in your different fragments of the city . the seminars at school were excellent . leading authorities on social housing , family policy , new politics , trusts and foundations came to talk with us . charles handy and his wife came to talk about entrepreneurship ( i’ve been roped in to help mrs h , a photographer , get to grips with digital imaging ) . above all , the discussions between the sixteen of us challenged me with new perspectives and experience . hopefully we will be able to keep this going in the evolving electronic discussion groups .

it will probably be more than a month before i am back again on the mainland . in the meantime i will be visited by friends and family on the islands .

.2055 tamarisk farm , st agnes

train bus plane and boat segued without incident . here i am . the island is feverish with preparations for tomorrow’s wedding . almost everyone is involved in some way or another . at the moment ben and tonya are cleaning scallop shells in johann’s bath . sue and her team are still preparing food for the one hundred and fifty guests . david and john peacock have run five boat trips from st mary’s to collect guests . the final batch will appear tomorrow morning . i’m ready with my camera and minidisc . it’ll be an early start . johann’s already making jibes at me about that . he seems to doubt my ability to get up before midday .

: cH

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