I’m in a Rochdale of the past with Kojak. We walk up misty, enclosed lanes. I enter a hostel. I’m sleeping in the floor with others, men separated from families. I’m in the smoking area. I’m given tokens for tea and food, and a guidebook covered in green slime, that I scrape off to read the rules. It reads like some kind of Christian workhouse from the Dickensian era. One of the beards in charge asks the guy next to me his profession. He lists many things. Armed forces reservist, engineer, translator. Everyone here is talented and skilled in some way, just not valued by society as human beings. The hostel is a train carriage. We move. A young man sets up a telescope, with whisker like feelers extending from it. I ask what he hopes to see. The sky is overcast. He explains he has a lowlight sight for viewing the wildlife.
I stand by him at the window. We are in Victoria. It begins to rain. Red rain. I’ve never seen it before. Someone puts a white shoe out of the window to dye it red. The train stops. We collect and sort a variety of small Crustacea and snails that fell in the rain. Later, we will trade them.
A blind girl is on the train. I talk to her and pet her young Alsatian guide dog. They want to take it away from her, effectively taking away her sight again.
John Inman is texting a woman. I explain that meeting face to face is better. He disagrees. He says something. He actually said ‘tube’ but I heard ‘Jew’. I thought he was being racist. Our next stop is delivering Bhangra to Stockport.
I reminisce about playing in a Bhangra band. It never happened.
At this stop, a very posh woman gets on. Most others have left. Her youngest daughter refuses to get on. At the last minute, her older daughter jumps on with two dogs, a spaniel and a Doberman. The woman despairs at her daughter being left behind. The dogs run all over the place, and the Doberman leaps from the train to be with the young girl.
By the tracks, people walk who have just left the train. A woman declares two Native American women her Crazy Horse wives. A young white guy, dressed in white, speaks in Cherokee. He’s learned so much from the diversity of people that he met on the journey. He is wiser and kinder. Less quick to judge.