The latest dusting of snow, partially covering stone and tarmac. A kind of tidal residue. Stepping into artificially generated warmth. The harsh lights and smell of fast food. A woman embarks on the futile attempt to sweep a swathe of blue (patterned) carpet strewn with edible debris. A pair of ticket vending machines stand unused as the public within steadfastly craves human exchange (or maybe just the pre-show fare on offer).
Another train and the exodus, like poured concrete through a chute. A press of those in search of a victory, at national or club level. Amongst the hats and scarves, a few passengers laden with luggage, attempting to enter the capital (or beyond). The slight strain on the faces of station security staff as their hi-vis (lime green) vests billow in the freezing snow blown wind. One man attempting to stop a smoker well ahead of him. Gone, like the smoke. The vagaries of certain (by)laws. Dropping litter, spitting…and smoking. The futility and the occasional imposition. Like a convoy ‘zigzagging’ war torn waters in a bid to outrun the perils below, on the surface and above.
Two contractors outside a pub consuming takeaway coffee (a dry run for the evening?), cigarettes rolled and smoked, packed lunches carried, the evangelical burst of energy from a jogger, pausing mid-park to take a a selfie before resuming the regime. A daily awakening series of rituals, stimulants and sobriety to augment and navigate the hours that lay ahead.
A woman and man greet each other mid-pedestrian crossing. They both remove their earphones (she – left/he – right) to acknowledge one another before resuming their respective journeys and soundtracks. The modern take on doffing a cap?
Passing near a ‘foodmove’ van stuck in a small quagmire. The potential containers for its delivered contents now placed beneath the wheels, as a kind of cardboard carpet, in a desperate bid to extract the vehicle from the mud. How easily unstuck (sic) we become, in a simple act within the midst of a city, when going up against the elements.
‘D or 3’, depending on your history. The long vanished (vanquished) esprit de corps replaced by a dull silence. Phone immersion, lunch solemnly eaten, candy crush consumed, books devoured, slumber and the faint odour of sweat. A waiting room, an arrivals and departure lounge and an ever changing cast, presided over by the long redundant television screen. A kind of benign CCTV.
Observing the rise and fall of passengers (‘customers’) entering and departing the station. A sextet of young Jehovah’s Witnesses (sporting the ubiquitous black name badge), a large group of public school pupils confident, purposeful and buoyant (a regular commute), bemused tourists casting their gaze around the small arcade in a bid to find clues to ‘museumland’…some arrivals gliding up the stairs as though in a remake of ‘A Matter of Life & Death’, others struggling to ‘play’ the ATM and a lone teenage girl wearing a bobble hat with the words ‘I Don’t Care’ (stitched upside down). A nod to the many people descending the stairs marked ‘No Entry’?
A(nother) tourist bearing the mark of the early 20th century maritime enigma. The words ‘Titanic Belfast’ peering out from the front of a black t-shirt partially obscured by a jacket, like the bow of a ship entering lock gates.
A tourist carrying a ‘Titanic Belfast’ tote bag. The perpetual fascination with a doomed behemoth, in terms of human tragedy and feats of engineering and design. Attention, in recent times, also firmly focused on location(s). The perceived need to explore the origins and last connection with terra firma, hence the home of Harland & Wolff (and the south coast seaport of a fated maiden voyage).
A near full house on westbound ‘1816’. Overheard samples of conversation, both near and far. Strategy and plans (in great detail) being hatched or relayed for the weekend (unofficially having commenced). From the banal to the slightly bizarre. A range of those commuters who would rather secrete themselves within the fabric, until disembarking, and those more than happy to officiate over a kind of open plan office, for the dubious benefit of all within earshot.