Am I alone in thinking that all times past were more innocent? Even this time a week ago appears to be much more naive a period than now. Then there are those much earlier eras in my life when the world was fresh and alive with possibility in every moment. One of the great delights of the few short years I lived in England was making journeys away from London. While I spent some months in Paris at the latter part of that time, in general, my lack of fluency in any language other than English made long stays in European cities difficult. It may be hard to imagine now but tourism in the mid-60s was mostly limited to the well off who could afford high fares and to stay in places that catered to their needs - including mono-linguists. Not to say there weren't already lots of students adventuring in groups, but I wasn't one of their number and hitchiking to India by myself didn't seem wise.
So, instead, I often travelled to out of the way places in England by train, sitting in little private compartments like this one whose door would open onto the platform and an inner door to the corridor where you could stand at the windows to watch the other side of the countryside pass by. As a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies that weren't very old at the time, the confined space on board heightened the feeling of drama, intrigue, romance and adventure - all played out at high speed as the train made it's relaxing kacunkachunk rattle over the sleepers. Being a witness to the world and yet remote from its troubles was a boon to maturing - a little, at least.
It turns out I did all that at a very good time because within a few more years most of those railway lines between idyllic country towns had been torn up and sold in order that highways could be built instead. A very similar thing happened in North America with the promotion of the interstate highways and airline travel. It could be argued now that high speed rail lines in Europe and Japan have done much to destroy a more relaxed and humane way of getting from one place to another. Then again, I'll admit to always giving equal merit to the journey as well as the destination.
“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.”
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay