So latest news, I will be playing Maureen in a rehearsed reading of Elizabeth, Peter and Me at the Union Theatre on Monday 27th February 2017, written by Vincent Rawding, adapted from the book by Mark Baxter. Maureen is a very interesting character indeed. That’s all I’m telling. Meanwhile, below is one of my stories that I wrote years ago, probably about a decade or more. For your entertainment:
Sunday Trains by Kate Terence
Charlotte got out of her father’s Jaguar while he pressed the button to open the boot. She took out her suitcase, leant back into the car and kissed him goodbye. As she made her way slowly through the dank tunnel that led to Platform One at Pulborough station, she tried to curb her mind from heading into the Sunday night blues that plagued her since childhood.
She sat down on the available space of the bench next to a couple who were contentedly mulling over the sections of the Sunday papers. A cool Autumnal air brushed against Charlotte’s skin making her shiver. Why was it that, at the age of thirty-seven, she could still feel like a lonely teenager?
She knew part of the problem was that whenever she visited her parents she always allowed herself to regress in age. This luxury was particularly delicious on Saturday mornings when her mother would bring her a steaming cup of tea in bed. However, it definitely produced its drawbacks when returning to London on a Sunday evening. The weekend of behaving like she was the young, single daughter seemed to have the effect of compounding her awareness that in fact the situation was the exact reverse.
She heard the isolated clatter of the rails in the distance as the train loomed into view. She stood back waiting for it to pull to a halt, taking advantage to view all the carriages in order to pick an emptier one. She hated listening to the animated chatter of travellers returning to their busy homes.
She had to admit to herself that returning to her abode did not fill her with glee. With some help on the deposit from her parents, she had bought the two bedroom, end-of-terrace house in Tooting when property was at its cheapest. She knew for a fact that the property had more than doubled during the time that she had owned it, but somehow the financial triumph felt hollow.
Charlotte clambered on to the train, finding herself a free space to spread herself out. She hung up her splendid Burberry coat, put her Mulberry weekend bag that she had bought in the summer sales up on the rack and sat down, pulling her large, satchel bag close to her.
She got her portable CD player out. As the countryside through the windows began to move past her vision, she immersed her senses in the dreamlike sequences of John Barry. It was going to be about an hour and fifteen minutes before they arrived at London Victoria, so she let herself relax.
She was not looking forward to going to work the next day. She wondered at her own laziness in terms of why she had never really bothered to look for another more suitable job. She had wanted to work in TV production and had ended up working as a business development manager for a small advertising company. She could forgive herself that particular choice, but what Charlotte found intolerable is that she had continued to work for the same organization and irritating group of people for over ten years.
What seemed like seconds passed by before she felt a tapping against her shoulder. She had been dozing, and gasped as she opened her eyes to notice that the train had stopped. The lights were still on, and all the passengers had left the train: all except one man, who was standing above Charlotte, looking at her face to see if he had managed to wake her.
She removed her headphones because he was talking to her. She looked quickly out of the window, assuming that they must have arrived in Victoria. Unfortunately, there was no signpost in her vision to confirm her guess.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear what you were saying. Were you saying something to me?” Charlotte found herself speaking like a schoolteacher, partly out of an unexpected awkwardness, although partly because she was still half-asleep. She felt as if she was struggling to conduct herself properly. Perhaps she was thrown by the fact that the man had disarmingly kind eyes.
“We’re at Horsham. Sadly, there’s engineering works going on so apparently they’ve laid on a bus service that goes to Three Bridges. I thought I better let you know before I got off myself. You looked like you were fast asleep.” The man answered her, smiling as he then got off the train and began walking towards the yellow WAY OUT sign.
She hurriedly put on her coat, pulled her handbag strap over her shoulder and grabbed her case. This typical inconvenience would have added insult to injury, as journeys go in Charlotte’s book. She would usually have whipped herself up into a fully blown melancholy regarding her bad luck when it came to travelling, if it hadn’t been for the noticeably warm way that man had spoken to her.
As she walked towards the exit, she wondered whether he lived in Horsham himself. She assumed he did, otherwise, surely, he would have accompanied her to the bus. Although he might have left in order to prevent her from feeling uncomfortable. In any case, as these thoughts dashed swiftly through her semi-wakeful brain, her question was answered as she saw his elegant profile on the bus.
She felt a rush of blood to her cheeks as she stepped on board, which was packed with passengers from the train. Everyone had been forced to sit closer to each other, which was usually her idea of a journey from hell. But to her own surprise, she looked directly at the man who had spoken to her. She raised her eyes to heaven, as if to mock herself.
The man’s face broke into a wide, dimpled smile. He moved his hand with subtlety to indicate that there was a space free next to him. Charlotte’s heartbeat felt loud enough for everyone to hear it, but no one seemed to be paying her any attention. So she moved towards him and sat down.
“I’m just beginning to wake up.” She hoped that this might break the ice.
“Do you mind my asking what you were listening to?” The man asked her casually.
“John Barry, do you know his work?” Charlotte asked, a little embarrassed that she could not boast of more fashionable tastes.
“Now, isn’t that uncanny. We’ve just completed a proposal for a documentary on modern composers, and he is on our list.” The man answered, genuinely interested.
Charlotte did not seem to notice the lurching forward and backwards of the bus, the slowness of the journey or the proximity of the other passengers. She barely noticed one of the mothers screaming at her three kids to sit still.
“What do you do, then, as a job?” she asked, knowing the answer already.
“Me, oh, I’m a TV producer. I run my own TV production company. I should introduce myself, shouldn’t I? I’m Adam Hill.” He put his hand out and shook Charlotte’s. She blushed as she gave her name. One thing was for sure, she decided. She did not mind Sunday travel. She did not mind it at all.