Humor Magazine

Train Travel Tales #43 – If Music Be the Food of Love…….Part 2

By Gingerfightback @Gingerfightback


Hello! – Here is part 2 of a longer train travel tale.

You will need to read Part 1 here to make any sense of this! Hope you like it,.

If Music Be The Food Of Love…..Part 2.

December 16th – 1996 A train ready to depart Kings Cross station

Elizabeth had to run down the platform to catch the train. The run hadn’t taken much out of her, she was a dancer after all, but being punctilious by nature, nearly missing it had caused some anxiety. She walked through the carriages checking her ticket and seat reservation until she found her seat, 26 Facing in Carriage C.

A middle-aged man with a florid, veined complexion was sat in the seat next to her. Bryn was red faced and slightly out of breath after his exertions with the Busker and Police.

“Close shave,” he said.

“Yes,” replied Elizabeth as she settled into her seat. She took a sip from a bottle of water and stared into the evening murk, attempting to decipher the name of commuter stations as the train sped through them. She opened the book she had bought at York Station the day before, a set of short stories revolving around murder and suspense with the occasional humorous twist. Unable to concentrate, she closed the book and stared at her reflection in the window, allowing herself to float in a pool of leathery half thoughts.

In the seats behind, a toddler began to scream, shattering the calm of the carriage The child writhed and wriggled to be free of his mother’s grip. His mother was trying to reason with him.

“But if you stand on the seat Stephen you could fall and hurt yourself.” The logic of her statement had no bearing on his noisy blubbering.

“That’s enough now Stephen,” The mother’s patience was being sucked out of her. An ethereal noise began to arise from Bryn, the rich, textured layers of his voice defining a set of beautifully evocative sounds, Gaelic in origin. He sang for a further two minutes, the lament slowly evolving into a haunting lullaby. The child became silent.

The lullaby finished. Passengers shook themselves from the mellow torpor his singing had induced. He turned to Elizabeth and smiled at her. She smiled back with a sense of calm curiosity mixed with relief that the cries of the child had ceased. He stared out of the window, content to let the memory of the song linger like a melodic vapour trail.

“Your song was very beautiful”. Elizabeth said.

“I agree. It is an old lullaby my mother sang to me during my own bouts of misunderstood rage. The words deal with a mother’s sadness at hearing the news of her son’s death in war and through her dreams she can stay in contact with him. Yes, altogether very moving. Plus it has an additional value which should never be overestimated” – He beckoned her to come slightly closer – “It always shuts little bugger’s like him up.”

“What is the name of the song?”

“Anything you like really, it’s not the name that counts. More the feeling of loss and love transmitted.”

“It really was beautiful. You have a lovely voice.”

“Bryn, I am a Welshman,” he held out a hand.


“Thank you for the compliment Elizabeth. Gifted tenor from an early age. According to my Rhodri Lewis, a fine man if slightly inclined to preach about the virtues of Verdi, I had a voice with a range and sensual quality that called upon the angels to bear witness. It was he who urged me to seek my destiny through the notes and words of others. Performance is the highest calling a man can attain. I often considered myself to be a strutting wild beast, locking horns with the sounds one moment, gently stroking their cadences the next. I like to nibble the lyrics,  revelling in my unabated talent. I assure you, critical acclaim was never in my thoughts, I just wanted to sing. Actually, I like to think of myself as the first to connect with the audience where they worked, shopped, played, drank, lived even. Truly, my recitals are akin to the Sermon on the Mount.”

“You busk?”

“I think of myself as an external performer. I’m on my way to perform outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh for the festive season. Rich pickings this time of year. Although I refuse to sing Gilbert and Sullivan. A pair of shite hawks if ever there were. Lozenge?”

“No thanks.”

Silence fell between them. The Ticket Inspector, a taciturn man who exuded marital discord mumbled, “Tickets please” and punched their tickets with wristy ease. As he continued his duties Elizabeth remembered that she had not spoken to Andrew for nearly two days. He would be upset. She, much to her surprise only felt relief at this non contact with her boyfriend.

Bryn sucked with noisy gusto on his sweet. “The lozenge. A humble concoction of honey and cloves but a tincture without which my soul would forever remain dormant in the mundane we take for granted as life. Singing is my life’s mission. Cut me and no blood would flow from my clotted arteries but the notation of Mozart. Artists such as I are, by our very nature external to the world of the everyday. Through our actions we can shine a searchlight into the soul of mortal people, offering them a glimpse of what can be.”

She looked for a spare seat. There were none.

He bit into lozenge. The aroma of menthol filled the space between them.

“Would you care for an onion sandwich? They are medicinal in nature and thin the blood. Suffering from thick blood is a characteristic of the gifted vocalist. I once read in a periodical whilst waiting for an internal flight in Australia, that the benefits of the onion sandwich are truly exceptional.”

The sandwich had a tongue of onion protruding between the bread slices as if it were gasping for air. Bryn sniffed and said, “On second thoughts,” and returned them to his jacket pocket.

“I must apologise. As you may have noticed I find no subject more charming or enlightening than myself. Could I ask you what you do? Something physical by chance? Your movements are very graceful” He noted the change in her body language from his compliment. I am so good at this! he thought to himself.

“I work in Boots in York, on the perfume counter. But I really want to make it as a professional dancer. How did you guess?”

“Sadly, my own body movements are nothing like as graceful. My mentor, Cecil Findings, a man with a marvellous musical ear but with a fateful attraction to the Tuba, described my own gait as cryptic. More charitable people have said enigmatic.”

“I’ve just been for a try out in London. Unsuccessful. Again.”

Part 3 Tomorrow!

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