Monday, June 21, 2010

The Boy Who Made My Day (Or, What Happened To The Other Half Of The Train?)

"£1.29 please."

"£1.29 for a cheap plastic biro?"


"I think I just won't bother doing my marking on the way home, then."

I don't think I would have been able to do my marking on the way home anyway.  It was rush hour by the time I got to East Croydon Station today and the trains were all full and slightly delayed.

I boarded the second train that stopped and walked through three carriages before finding a seat, in the middle of a three, next to a nine or ten year old Asian boy, who sat opposite his mother.

The boy grinned at me, and greeted me enthusiastically.  I grinned back at him, and turned my headphones down a little in case any noise was leaking out.

A pretty girl with a flower in her hair sat down opposite me.

After a couple more minutes I could tell the boy was still interested in me, so I turned off the Polyphonic Spree and put my headphones away.  I reached into my bag and pulled out my sketchbook.  Self-consciously I searched in my pockets for the finest-tipped drawing pen I had.

I thought of an idea, "Is this seat taken?", and started sketching it out.  The boy leaned in closer.  After a minute or so, he said, "Wow.  You're really good at drawing."

"Thank you," I said.

When I finished writing the caption he read it out loud.

I tried to think of something else to draw.  I looked around me but inspiration would not come now that I had an expectant audience.  "What are you going to draw now?" he asked.

"I'm not sure."

"You could draw the buildings," he said, pointing out of the window.

"Well, I normally draw jokes, so I'd have to think of a joke about the buildings first," I said.

"You could draw half a train."

"I could.  What happened to the train?"

"You could draw half a train," he repeated earnestly.

"That's a good idea.  Why is it only half a train?"


"No, I mean, what happened to the other half of the train?"


I looked across at the pretty girl with a flower in her hair.  She was giggling.

I decided to draw a train-related idea I had nearly two years ago in a hotel room in Angouleme, that I'd never got around to drawing properly.  There were only a few minutes to get it done.

"You're really good at drawing.  How do you draw so quickly?"

"I'm not sure.  I think I just try to get the important details in."

"The important details," he repeated under his breath.

The train pulled into Victoria as I was nearly finished and the boy's mother hurried him along.  I stepped out of the train with pen and book still in hand, finishing off the last few details.

After going through the ticket gates I found myself just behind them, and tore the sketch out of the book.  It took some getting his attention to give it to him.

Moments later I walked past the pretty girl with the flower in her hair and said nothing.

Railway Bridge


  1. So...what did happen to the other half?

  2. I don't know. He made no sense at all. He was awesome.

  3. Missed chance with the girl though.

  4. True, but I'm now happily paired up with someone better.


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