I’ve always loved John Cooper Clarke ever since as a teenager so it was logical for me to look through his catalogue to find a poem that would give me lots of scope for a series of photographs to capture the essence of it… The poem I’ve chosen is ‘Network South East’…
It’s so insubstantial, it swerves on the curves.
The noise of the upholstery batters the nerves.
If you were a passenger day after day
You’d pay to have somebody blow you away.
As I travel these tracks I cannot forgive
How I lose by degrees the incentive to live
Knowing that vengeance will never be mine
That’s what hurts on the misery line.
Hell on Wheels with go-faster stripes.
These passengers here are the tolerant type
I’d like to see them in seven months’ time
When the shatter-proof windows are splattered with slime
And they’ve sacked all the fellas who did the repairs
And shovelled the cheeseburgers off the chairs
From germ-free services smelling of pine
Now it’s travel no-class on the misery line.
John Cooper Clarke
I travelled down to Thetford on the train from Norwich. Thetford station is quite small, just two solitary platforms and even fewer toilets. It is fairly run-down, situated on the mainline to London. It was a sparkling, sunny, late autumn morning, which didn’t really make the job of photographing a gloomy, depressing train ride, an easy one!
I selected one image per 2 lines of the poem and the results are shown below:-
I decided to focus on details rather than take shots of the whole train carriage and I think this worked better especially given the sunny weather conditions. For example, slide 5 below depicts a folded up train ticket wedged into the wall by some bored traveller; slide 6 below shows an article I found in a free newspaper on the train “Rush Hour Crush” where passengers write rather sad messages to other passengers they want to meet up with…