Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I first published this post, in June 2015, on a blog called Ramblings from a Writers Mind where I ‘write about writing for writers’.

The subject, one of memory and nostalgia is, I feel, equally important to the readers among us as it is to those who write. It is on that premise I now re-publish this post here, on Electric’s Eclectic’s blog.

Enjoy.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who may not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters as they wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to board.

In the waiting room, a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk, a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around, a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

This is how I remember railway stations. Or at least this is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not quite old enough to had such an experience. I was not born into that era. My time came a little later. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend some truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as they rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third-class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say they were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways, I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of travelling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with the few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world which shall captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance, would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know it is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’, when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream, accessible to only the very wealthy. Most towns and cities, other than one’s own home town, were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many of us have not said at least one goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is fact stations are a place many hold dear because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions, countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within ourselves a simple wistful yearning for a time and place we have never been. If I can re-create that place in your mind, stimulate your emotions, have you feel the air, taste the scents of my imaginings as you read my stories then know I have done a good job.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope these few randomly scribbled words give you food for thought or simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.


 To browse my books please feel free to visit my website, https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

If you would like to read a shorter book, say as an introduction to my writings, then check out my novelettes and ‘Pocketbooks’ on @open24, the Amazon store for readers by Electric Eclectic.

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My Poem for Valentine’s Day

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It depends on which cards land, ‘cos the devils in the deal,

The King and Queen of Hearts are what you wish to feel,

So, pick them up, fan them out, take a look and see,

There’s the Jack of Clubs, his grinning back with glee,

And sitting just behind him is the ace of spades, bad luck,

Like the hand life’s dealt you; they don’t give a flying fuck.

 

The King and Queen will only be in your nightly dreams

And the Heart you so desire is much father than it seems.

“I’ll raise you ten,” he says, with an evil sneer,

You want to tear his face off, rip it from ear to ear,

Your watch your last silver dollar as it rattles into the pot

That’s it, your all up, it’s the last you’ve got.

 

Just one slender chance, you willingly embrace

Because nothing can now fill what is an empty space.

And nothing will leave you just about level,

Until you sell your vacant soul to Beelzebub the Devil.

You lose again, just like every fucking day,

So get up from the table, again you walk away.

 

Tomorrow is Valentines, a day of true romance,

When lovers reveal their passions, hoping for a chance.

Where wine and chocolates and bouquets of red flowers bloom,

And a thousand pairs of feet scuttle off to some hotel bedroom.

Where the lost and lonely sit and weep, in darkened empty homes

And stare at the blank glass screens of their silent mobile phones.

 

Where your life’s gambles lay in ruins upon the green baize

And those who’ve lost wander the streets in a lonesome daze.

When love is some distant recall which is hard to find,

Something fleeting, passing, just escaping your mind,

Where the fallen Jack of Hearts lays upon the floor

With one arm raised, finger-pointing, showing you the door.

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© Paul White 2015

Hey, why not check out ‘Teardrops and White Doves’ a collection of my poetry. Available in a fully illustrated, full colour, Hardcover book direct from my printers, or as a standard Paperback from Amazon

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Electric Press magazine: February edition, now out.

The Electric Press Literary Insights magazine: February 2020 edition is now available online. Simply follow this link. 

https://issuu.com/electricpress/docs/epfebruary20

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FREE books…

Did you know…

We have three Electric Eclectic anthologies you can read FREE of charge.

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We published this trio of ebooks to give you an opportunity to read some of our authors works, so you can get to know their writing style and narrative voice, before committing to buy their books.

We think that’s pretty fair.

The books are, Moth Balls which has five stories, Butterfly Bats with six, and Mayfly Recitals, with a massive twelve free reads.

You can find these books in the UK at Amazon UK 

In the USA, and other countries serviced by Amazon.com

The following are direct links for downloading, but these only work with Amazon UK. Use the links above for any other country

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A river, a walk & a Blue Horse.

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Often people ask how writers find the ideas for stories.

The answer is not a difficult one; it only takes a few overheard words from a conversation, a comment, an image on the news, hearing a song’s lyric or even watching the antics of people interacting, say with children, or arguing; perhaps meeting, or saying goodbye, at a railway station or airport.

Such moments stimulate the writer, wake up their ‘muse’, cause a string of possibilities run amok, often uncontrollably, through the author’s mind. Thus, sowing of the seeds of literary creativity.

This morning, I returned to the river to take further photographs. This time from the opposite side of the bridge from where I took the shots from two days ago. A short walk from where I parked my car, I came across a child’s rocking horse washed onto the shore.

This bright blue plastic object looked incongruous in such stark, open, natural surroundings. To me, the rocking horse appeared sad and forlorn, rather than bright and joyful as I imagined it should. I could not help myself but capture an image or two of the toy.

As I took the pictures my mind began racing, conjuring up a thousand and one possibilities of why, where and how the horse became washed up here. About whom owned it, the family, the child, the situation which led to the toy being lost or disposed of. Was it to hide a secret, as a punishment, cover up a crime, or lost in a storm, washed overboard from a family sailing trip that turned to disaster?

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I intend to write my story of this little blue rocking horse at some point in the future.

Maybe you will take up my challenge and write your own story?

Then, please share it with us so we can post it on the Electric Eclectic blog? https://electriceclecticsblog.wordpress.com/

Email your ‘Blue Rocking Horse story’ to, TheElectricpress@mail.com

Have fun.


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Check out ‘Tales of Crime and Violence’, a three-volume collection of short stories by Paul White.

Available as paperbacks or Electric Eclectic eBooks/Kindle on Amazon and all good online bookstores

Volume 1:  Paperback Kindle

Volume 2:  PaperbackKindle

Volume 3:  Paperback Kindle

A Flash of Horror

A Flash of Horror is a collection of short and flash fiction in the horror genre taken from Karina Kantas’s two collections, Heads & Tales & Undressed.

12 chilling and though-provoking tales that will stay with you for nights to come.
Are you ready to delve into the dark side?

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I never thought of myself a someone with a dark side.

I always thought of my flash fictions as SciFi, thriller, maybe just a little creepy. But then I was a guest on a podcast and the host made me realise a lot of what I write falls into the horror genre.

I decided to take out some of the best horror flash from my two collections ‘Heads & Tales’ and ‘Undressed’ to make this small collection for those who don’t mind not sleeping at night.

Enjoy.

An excerpt from A Flash of Horror by Karina Kantas

VIRUS

“Well, that’s it. Now we wait again,” Maria announced.

Phil watched her sit at a cluttered desk to scribble yet more failure notes. But his eyes did not linger. He scanned the laboratory. It might be the last time he’d see it. Beds lined the walls of the spacious room, all but hiding its sterile, white-tiled floor. “How long until we see results this time — if any?” he asked.

“Same as the others. Twelve hours.”

“That doesn’t give us much time to administer a vaccine.”

“No. And — yes, before you say it, you’re right — there’s no guarantee we’ll ever find an acceptable vaccine.”

On each bed lay a test subject. Even those that had succumbed remained, since the examination of their rotting bodies still offered the faint hope of a cure.

But Phil knew that the virus had won this war. There was no hope. Eight months of this, and nothing but 665. The committee was right.

Phil turned his face away from the rotting, deformed victims, and stared at his co-worker. It was time to tell her, although he knew how she’d react. Maria was obstinate — so certain she’d find a cure.

Phil walked to his colleague’s desk. Each step weighed heavily on him, like the weight they’d shouldered as a team these past few months. He rested his hand on her shoulder.

“Maria?” he whispered.

Her eyes shimmered. “Yes?”

Phil blinked and spoke. “The committee decided if this last trial is unsuccessful, they’ll go with 665. They’ve already begun to manufacture.”

“What? You’re joking?”

 “They say there’s no more time to be choosey. It’s 665 or total annihilation.”

“Choosey! Don’t they realise what will happen? 665 has such awful side effects.”

“Sorry. Maybe choosey was the wrong word, and yes, they know the peril. I agree with them. What other choice do we have?”

“I’d rather die.”

Phil turned and looked at the bed beside him. Clear plastic sheeting did nothing to hide its demonic deformities. IT was the only way to describe this once-person. Its new facial appearance removed any identification of what sex, race or age test subject 665 once had.

More to come…..


You can get A Flash of Horror from Amazon UK; https://amzn.to/2M3wZmp

or internationally via; http://authl.it/B07XP8C5L6 

and from Amazon’s @open24 store for readers and writers, http://bit.ly/EEbooksonOPEN24


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Karina Kantas is the author of the popular MC thriller series, OUTLAW and the loved romantic fantasy duology, Illusional Reality.

She also writes short stories and when her imagination is working overtime, she writes thought-provoking dark flash fiction.

When Karina isn’t busy working on her next bestseller, she’s a publicist, author manager and VA. She’s also the host of the popular radio show, Author Assist on the Artist First Radio Network.

Karina writes in the genres of fantasy, MC romance, Young Adult. sci-fi, horror, thrillers and comedy, romance, PNR, dystopian and erotica.

Her inspirations are the author S.E.Hinton and the rock band, Iron Maiden.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, where she loves hanging out with her readers.

http://bit.ly/FBFPKK FB Author page, http://bit.ly/BLOGKK BLOG, http://bit.ly/INSTKK INSTAGRAM

Get samples from Book 1 and Book 2 of Illusional Reality duology when you sign up to my mailing list.
http://eepurl.com/daKief 

Titles

Electric Eclectic book
Toxic – dystopian Erotica

The OUTLAW series
In Times of Violence
Huntress
Lawless Justice
Road Rage

Collections
Heads & Tales
UNDRESSED

In Times of Violence Young Adult Edition / MC romance
Stone Cold / YA supernatural thriller

Illusional Reality duology
Illusional Reality / YA romantic fantasy 
The Quest/fantasy paranormal romance

Coming soon
Broken Chains (MI5/mafia  romance)
Predator (erotic horror)