Friday, 26 December 2014

The Night Mail - 2014 Style

A Virgin "Super Voyager", although the poem could describe a journey on just about any modern UK train. The reference to a "pan" (short for pantograph) in the first verse is to the fact that despite spending most of their working lives running under an overhead electric supply, these are purely diesel-powered trains.

Those of you who remember Auden's poem "This is the Night Mail", written for the film "Night Mail" in 1936, might be interested in this modern parody, recently sent to me and written by someone who I only know as "Trailer Second"

This is the Voyager crossing the Border

Standing room only, unless you pre-order
Seating for the rich, corridors for the poor
The shop has sold out, the buffet no more
Revving up Beattock, claiming to be green
The wires above her, no pan to be seen
Birds turn their heads, as she approaches
Stare from the bushes, at her paltry 5 coaches

Cars in the fast lane can’t keep pace
Have comfortable seats and a lot more grace
Thro’ heather and weather but not fallen leaves
With approval ratings that no-one believes
Shoveling carbon over her shoulder
Nox, particulates, benzene, sulphur
Her weight fatigues the railway line
She’s ten minutes late but that’s on time

In the farm she passes no one wakes
All long gone to euro milk lakes
Dawn freshens but the toilet’s full
Snarling toward the urban sprawl
Scotland, independent nation
Soon an end to this vibration
Past rough estates and fast food chains
Dodging the stones from those with no brains

Call centres, offices, low cost homes
Tattooed teenagers with tweeting phones
Once steel and coal and engineering
Graffiti, flats and multi screening
Trainspotting here is not what it seems
But fuels the crime to pay for dreams
In the dark glens beside pale green sea lochs
Men read their e-mails. . . .

And for those who prefer the original - here it is 

1 comment:

Mark Doran said...

In Auden's day of course, if the superintendent at Craigentinny Carriage Sidings had turned out just four second-class coaches for the busy Birmingham express, he'd have been out on his ear!