22.2.14

21.02.2014

IN PRAISE OF TRAIN STATIONS

A train station is a perfect picture of human life. It has all the components: There are people eating and drinking; people heading off in search of the WC; people meeting others for the first time, waiting for the train to Basel that’s running three minutes behind schedule; there are people saying good-bye and others who are kissing without worrying about people watching; there are others who are lost, bewildered and unsure of their surroundings; some, however, know exactly where they are and where they’re going – they do it every day in pattern that has become a part of them.

It is a picture of humanity in a world that strives to run on clock work, but never quite manages it. At a train station you can be a witness to human error, mechanical error and the emotional effect of all of this. It is a demonstration of the fact not every individual will fit into the system that has been prepared for him.

A train station is forever moving, and the buildings of it are probably secondary in a person’s perception. The building is the grater that the cheese constantly moves through, sliced and diced and pushed out in continues sliding motion.

Everyone has a purpose at a train station. My purpose was to provide the real image of an Australian, standing in front of a platform Australian tourism advert. There I was proving that we wouldn’t all look good on surfboards on the Sunshine Coast in swimmers. And I was especially there to prove that we don’t all have tans.

 

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S REAR FRONT WINDOW

Jimmy Stewart, playing a character no one cares the name of, solved a murder from the discomfort of his wheelchair by looking through the window of an apartment opposite him and piecing together disjointed clues.

For the first time ever I’m in a similar position. Not that there’s a murder that has occurred across the street. It’s just that I can look in these windows and see what’s going on.

In one window there’s a very neat and tidy kitchen and small office space. In the evening, after a candle-lit dinner, the husband – or male partner, because one shouldn’t assume – spends about an hour in front of the computer, occasionally pulling his hair out. The wife – or female partner, because one shouldn’t assume – does the dishes, and heads off to another room. By 11 o’clock all the roller shutters are down and the lights are off. The only light that remains on is a small glowing, platonic solid thing that radiates orange behind a rectangular window above the front door.

It’s a daily pattern, which, if it’s broken, I will jump to the cinematic conclusion and find a link to blame on a murder I can solve from the comfort of a chair.

 

THE MEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SOUND, AND GERMANY HAS THE ARMOURY

Where Australia has a lot of Bics, Germany has fountain pens – cheap cheerful and readily available. Ink comes in all imaginable varieties. Parker pens are available here, too, but they’re no big deal – they don’t come in a box with a certificate. Ink cartridges are cheap, paper varieties are boundless and every concept of folder and document sleeve is available for one to buy.

It’s crazy.

There’s the highbrow market, too. With your 800 Euro fountain pens, but at the bottom end a bog standard Lamy Safari will set you back 17.50 Euro, and even cheaper and more cheerful writing implements can be bought, too. While a Lamy gel-roller ball only 5.50 Euro.

Pens here are decent. I have yet to see the 89 cent Bics I know from home.

It all is working to one major aim. To prove the point that in Germany they do things properly.

 

..and there goes the last tram – I can hear them with my window slightly open, as it is now – which means it’s very late and I should be in bed.

3 comments:

  1. So you have fresh air afterall... Does Harry read this bog? The stationery updates are fascinating, however you can't just fill your luggage with pens on return... or a typewriter!

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    Replies
    1. Harry does read this blog. Is that relevant in a way I can't discern?

      No, I suppose I can't. I'll have to send a box back instead. And I'll find a way to get a typewriter home, don't you worry about that.

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  2. I'm glad Harry reads it because perhaps no one else could understand the passion with which you write about stationery

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