Southport line III – 1969 (Blackberry Way, A Clockwork Orange, peril and the driver’s face)

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i hadn’t yet read A Clockwork Orange in ‘69

but i was 15 and the same age as Alex

and my ‘Blackberry Way’

was about to become

Alex’s 5th and 9th


i hadn’t yet been introduced to Alex’s classics

but i’d become obsessed with Beat Music

and in early nineteen-sixty-nine

The Move’s Blackberry Way

topped the UK charts


i hadn’t any of Alex’s psychopathic penchants

but shared peculiarities and musical fixation

and those countless rules set by

society’s bullying bulls

proved personal red rags


i hadn’t listened to my parents' welfare counsel

but i acknowledged their over-concerns

and often felt dreadfully guilty

as i pushed the boundaries

of conformist paradigms


i hadn’t much considered 4 buses to school and back

but preferred to walk and pocket precious fare

and the conventional daily hike

was frequently short-circuited

via precarious trespass


i hadn’t mused on buses that critical day despite bitter wind

but walked as close as the crows fly back home

and ‘that would be the day’

i would ultimately reflect on

disregard for authority


i hadn’t a concern for encroaching onto factory property

but railways tendered reasonable menace

and though a vigilant approach  

was constantly adopted

music proved distraction


i hadn’t considered that Blackberry Way could harm me  

but it detrimentally and cruelly metamorphosed  

and in tandem with Alex

Beat and Beethoven  

brutally scarred us


i hadn’t learned all of the lyrics of Blackberry Way

but sang what i knew with head down to the wind

and found a tempo on the tracks

with rhythmic steps on sleepers

ignorant of my environment


I hadn’t heard the silent assassin diesel train that day

but stuttering Ste would become my saviour

and totally out of character

he found his voice

to amplify peril


i hadn’t seen Ste Summers leap from the rail tracks

but I clearly heard his warning cry in the wind

and on that bitter winter afternoon

i glanced to witness terror

on his pale white face


i hadn’t seen the yellow iron menace a few feet in front of me

but i instinctively glanced forward to face the train

and the train driver’s face

mirrored my horror

as i froze briefly 


i hadn’t thought death might be so swift and sudden

but i mechanically leapt in desperation

and i felt the train’s violent wind

brush my trailing left foot

like a brush with death


i hadn’t thought life or death could be so unassuming

but thanked Ste for his unexpected relief of stutter

and thanked other spirits that loitered that day

to decide on my destiny

and ensuing outcome


i hadn’t anticipated disturbed sleep and tormenting dreams 

but more worryingly the night-terrors had returned

and refused to board the night train

for the following six weeks

presenting restless nights


i hadn’t envisaged the long term effect of that split second

but the Blackberry Way day hit me like the train

and i’ve never since been able

to cross a level-crossing

with eyes open


i hadn’t believed night-terrors would ever jump aboard again

but this time round they loitered menacingly

and held up the image

of the driver’s face

night after night


i hadn’t yet read A Clockwork Orange in ‘69

but i was 15 and the same age as Alex

and my ‘Blackberry Way’

had now become

Alex’s 5th and 9th


i hadn’t yet considered that Alex was my phantom brother

but despite opposing poles musical magnetism tied us

and his heartbreaking loss of  ‘Lovely Ludwig’

eerily contrasted with the ‘Blackberry’

that indelibly scarred me


i hadn’t that day been able to reflect on the impact of that diesel

but slowly i realised that had the train been familiar steam

and the inability to see the driver’s face

the trauma of that near-death day

wouldn’t have been so bad!

◄ Southport Line II – the 60s (last days of steam)

Kenny ►


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