In the late 'seventies, with a couple of good ole boy mates, I was gloriously on the piss. For a time, drunk - and untouchable - as lords, we lived lives of complete fantasy. It all had to end, we knew, and would invent elaborate, fantastical suicide options, for when the money ran out. This was happening in Coventry and after - I think - Tile Hill and Canley Crossing, the next train station on the Coventry-Birmingham line was Berkswell. I used to say that if I was goinna top meself, I was determined to take some bastard with me. How ya gonna do that, Ishmael? Well, what I'm gonna do, is, there's a train leaves Berkswell at 4.10, every afternoon. Yeah, so?| And I'm gonna write out a big sign, on cardboard, in big lurid letters . Then what, wossitgonnasay? It's gonna say IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT, YOURS. And then what? Then I'm gonna park my car a coupla miles from Berkswell, stand in front of the train, holding the sign up in front of me and pointing at it, as the driver's jumping, to no avail, on the breaks, shitting himself. Oh, wow, Ishmael, that's really fucking sick, that is, poor sod gonna spend the rest of his days not knowing if it WAS actually his fault, if he'd fucked you about unknowingly, and smearing yourself all over his windscreen was the only way you could get your own back, If you could find out his name, and write it on the sign, that'd really fuck him up; they'd never let him on a train again, British Rail, maybe we could find out, what his name is, shouldn't be too hard.
And so it came to pass that Taking the Four-Ten From Berkswell became a common euphemism for suicide; if somebody dropped out of sight we'd say, You don't suppose he's.....What, Taken the Four-Ten from Berkswell? Nah, not him, hasn't got the balls.
There's an old Western, isn't there, the song sung by Frankie Laine, I want to ride again, on that Three-Ten to Yu-u-ma; I think it came from there. Fancifully sardonic and playful though my confection was, I nevertheless could see that being a train driver did lay you open to the most bizarre form of workplace harrassment that there could ever be. And there's a lot of it around, Network Rail has a special depot, where trains go to get a good, deep, underarm cleansing after some fucker's taken the Four-Ten and is splattered all over the wheels and undercarriage. I think they should be fitted with big, fuck-off cowcatchers, the locos, like they have in the States, just sweep the kamikaze nutters the fuck out of the way and not having them splash their insides on the windscreen, three inches from the driver's face. Bound to upset a man, that.
But I was loooking at one of the filth sheets just now and fuck me, Jesus, but some bloke's just gone and done that very thing, that Four-Ten To Berkswell thing. He split up with his partner of about nine years and no matter what he said or did, she wouldn't have him back. Only trouble is, she's a train driver. And yesterday he went and stood in front of her train. Instant strawberry jam, he was; she, of course, is shocked out of her mind, had to be drugged-up.
Can't be too careful, not in this life. Not about what you think when you're pissed, nor about working as a train driver. Fuck that shit. Imagine, you got your partner out of your life, or so you think; next thing, he's hurtling into your windscreen at ninety miles an hour. And that's all you're ever going to see, everytime you close your eyes. That's like Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Only it's a man.