Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tickets please, Christmas lights and nap time.

One of today's beautiful things reminded me of another sort of journalling that I missed out of the essay. I save my train tickets for bookmarks, and I write notes on them about the journey. Sometimes it's just where I was going, or the purpose of the journey; other times it's a few words to jog my memory about the day ('a row of birds'; 'cable theft in Maidstone'; 'the proud man'). Our train tickets are about the size of a credit card, and have orange stripes on the front and a black magnetic strip on the back. Some of the conductors carry patterned punches -- I've got tickets punched with a dog's paw, a dolphin and a semiquaver.

The stack is an inch thick and goes back nine months at the moment -- this depends on how much reading and how much travelling I'm doing. I keep it in a battered green tin painted with a Japaneseish scene of flamingoes. When I need a bookmark, I take out the oldest ticket (it goes back about nine months at the moment). When I finish the book, I leave the ticket in. Where the book goes, the ticket goes.

During my holiday in Africa, one of my travelling companions remarked that a lot of the books in the truck's library had tickets to and from Tunbridge Wells tucked in them. I confessed to my bookmarking habit and he said that he reckoned one day he'd pick up a book in a far flung place and find a Tunbridge Wells train ticket between the pages, and he'd know, he'd just know, that it had passed through my hands.

1. Alec has a passion for train tickets -- we often give him a couple to wave around. He likes it when we say: "Tickets, please. Tickets, please." Today I let him empty my bookmark tin. He lay on his back and dropped handfuls on to his face -- he looked like a caper movie character enjoying his ill-gotten gains. He bashed two together. He concertinaed a couple and pulled them open and shut. Then he dropped them, one by one, on to the floor.

2. To turn on the fairy lights and make Alec smile.

3. Oh blessed, blessed nap time. I sit on the sofa, wrapped in a red fleece blanket and rest.