Requiem for the Intercity 1-2-5

by Tobias Thornes

They’ve given him his notice,
They’ve settled on a time,
To disappear who forty years
Has trundled down this line.
The window-wipers dry his eyes,
The air-brakes sigh and hiss,
As round the bend once more they send
The friend that we will miss.

Hear him hum as up he starts,
Feel his gentle pulse;
Next time you’ll be locked inside
A capsule sealed and false,
Where the wind’s sweet whisper
Through the window will not blow;
The chance to feel the sun’s soft rays
He offers you will go.

Instead, an air-conditioned cage
Will race from A to B
And stop at all the stations
Where our friend we used to see.
Yes, he may be ageing now
But he isn’t getting tired –
Oh, can’t he have just one more chance
Before he’s shot and fired?

“No!” says prancing progress,
And kicks him in the side.
“Let’s trash this trundling tin-heap
And buy a better ride!
Who wants an ageing grandad?
He simply can’t compete!
The new trains will be faster,
With bigger, softer seats.

“It isn’t health and safety
To let in outside air,
And of your mushy memories,
I simply couldn’t care.
People value comfort,
New toilets, tasty treats,
And the new trains will have all of this –
And bigger, softer seats.”

But what of us who like to breathe,
The open window at the door?
“The new trains will not have
That backward feature any more.
See! The new electric screens,
Hear the automated voice!”
I’d rather suffer neither, thank you,
If I had the choice.

“Nonsense! People clamour for
The latest in our fleet.
And they must have a socket
At each bigger, softer seat.”
And so he sauntered from me,
His fingers in his ears,
And I was left to board again,
Holding back the tears.

From Paddington to Hereford,
Into the setting sun,
The friendly train went rocking
On his final Cotswolds run,
From Oxford, Hanborough, Charlbury,
Kingham and the Marsh,
He hurtled straight past Honeybourne
To Evesham; Pershore passed,

And whistled into Worcester,
Where I bade my friend goodbye,
Meandering to Malvern,
Thence to terminate – and die.
Oh, what happy memories forged
When you were still alive!
Oh please come back, bear your proud plaque,
‘Beloved 1-2-5’!


The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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