Romance, rain and petty vandalism in Carnforth

You know you have hit rock bottom when you catch a train just to go to the next  station along the line. And then don’t even leave said station. But if you have ever been to Carnforth you will understand why as it is a grim straggle of a town where the goods in the shop windows appear to have stopped being replaced in the mid eighties. There is a pub called The Canal Turn where someone has painted out the C on the sign. This is the second best thing about Carnforth.

But within this windy hinterland of £3.95 Sunday Carveries and wretched looking charity shops lies simmering passion, thwarted carnal desires and unmentioned love.

The waiting and refreshments room at Carnforth station is famous for it appearing in the 1940’s film, Brief Encounter where two well-spoken people gaze longingly at each other, talk about nothing and you wonder why they just don’t get some bloody Durex and get on with it. Although this would make it another sort of film entirely and one possibly less desirable to the pleasant grey haired people sitting  in its restored interior eating toffee and date cake. There is a gramophone playing quiet jazz, a wood burner and a general air of gentility and pleasantness. The Comments book is unsullied by rude words in childish hands and we are called young by some nice old people by the fire who natter on about their childhood. What better place to go on a rainy Sunday morning? And it’s licensed. That always helps. There are sticky cakes of the old fashioned no nonsense tray bake variety and a short stodgy menu. It is always raining outside and the nice old people are always instantly replaced by other nice old people. Or the occasional grumpy looking cyclist in Lycra.

There is a museum devoted to trains of yore and in the gift shop a woman is re-imagining the Cumberland sausage she had at lunchtime with the dreamy eyes of the film heroine. No-one appears to be buying anything train related, they just wonder around in the romantic daze only tonnes of combustible metal and coal can arouse in people of a certain type. There are no teenagers sneering, there is no rubbish or complaining but reality trickles in with a sign saying the steam train excursions are now cancelled due to security issues at Sellafield. I suspect al-Qaeda would not stand a chance trying to infiltrate a steam buffs excursion-especially if they were not wearing corduroy and making genial remarks about the wetness of the summer.

The Harry Potter train is here but lies hidden in a tunnel after teenage vandalism several years ago. Other trains in various states of antiquity and dishevelment lie around like a big rusty elephants graveyard. Within the station museum, the TV screens endlessly show Brief Encounter, the black and white images of unconsummated love flickering silently as people shuffle around and are delighted with the safe comforting representation of the past in politeness and British steel not the reality of the Anal Turn and a merrily smashed Hogwarts Express.

I like it too but find nearly three pounds for a piece of cake a slightly too high a price on nostalgia but am comforted by my glass of wine and bowl of chips, an uncouth meal compared to my white haired neighbours cups of tea and slowly sipped soup but it is cosy in here and foul  outside so I too shall hide from the present for just another half hour.

5 Responses to “Romance, rain and petty vandalism in Carnforth”

  • My Passport To Style Says:

    Hi Tay, this is a great picture of Carnforth, I used to live there! I love paragraph two ‘winter hinterland’ Sharon xx

  • My Passport To Style Says:

    Sorry I meant windy hinterland! Thanks for the link love, will return the favour when I have my new blog makeover. x

  • Little Me Says:

    Now the Brief Encounter place IS on my list of places to go when I one day go home. I used to take the train to Lancaster every day to school from Carnforth station and sit on that windy platform staring at the famous clock which, back then, didn’t work and just ticked occasionally without moving on. There was one hand which flicked from time to time.

    I am intrigued to see how they have changed it.

    I do have memories or coachloads of Japanese tourists descending on the unrenovated platform, taking pictures and leaving again, obviously on their way to Scotland or the Lakes. It appears it is a very popular film over there. They always looked mighty pleased to see the clock and didn’t seem to notice the damp, drippy smelly station where pigeons and the odd tick were the only noises echoing round.

    For what it’s worth I think the Harry Potter train is sitting in a tunnel because Warner Brothers won’t licence the locals to use it as a tourist attraction, which is a real shame as it would bring in more people to what, I agree, is a pretty grim little town.

  • cyberfairy Says:

    I was there again today having beans on toast for breakfast, reading a book about Victorian murders and listening to classical music. A good start to the day! Thanks for taking the trouble to reply-my boyfriend is currently uploading some pics of the station onto his flickr account so will let you know when they are up. I have not seen any Japanese tourists there, only nice old people and though the actual cafe is cosy and an excelellent pastiche of the 40′s, everything else outside is indeed grim although there is a lovely little labrinth of museum rooms. I laughed at the name of a tattooist in carnforth today-’skin Vandal’. I think that has to be the worst name ever for a tattooist and is very Carnforth! Thanks again x

  • Little Me Says:

    Oh it is so Carnforth isn’t it. What a great name!

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