Short story 19

Next to the entrance to Highgate underground station is a pathway leading down steps to a secret wilderness in the middle of North London between two tunnels,. Tucked in it is an old disused railway station.

There lived Bernie. He lived with his parents in the station.. He was not tied to their apron strings. He had been married to an Italian girl in his youth. In those days he was slim and quite good looking. However whilst doing his National Service he was employed quelling the riots in Trieste, and had been severely wounded. It caused him to put on weight. After he left hospital his marriage fell apart, along with the rest of his life. With nowhere else to live he went back to stay with his parents.

That was not so bad, as he had always had an interest in nature and the mini paradise in which they lived supported foxes, squirrels, rabbits and all sorts of other creatures. It was an old station on a disused railway line. Only about once a year did a train venture down the track to some branch line. They kept a boat on the ‘ up’ platform, although there was no way of ever getting it out to water. His mother used the ladies waiting room as a laundry, and hung it out on the end of the’down’ line platform.

The stationmaster’s office had been turned into a very comfortable lounge, and the men’s waiting room was a bedroom. As his father was now an amateur artist the store room at the end was now his studio, and his paintings colourfully decorated the whole station.

His father had been a train driver. Indeed he used to drive the Flying Scotsman. He told stories of train driving experiences, much to George’s delight. One George particularly liked was how when they were coming down from Scotland they would cut off the steam at about Finsbury Park and bet on how close they could get to the buffers at Kings Cross without putting the steam back on or using the breaks. George thoroughly enjoyed his visits.


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Thank you, Keith Beal