The Ritual

Culture Lifestyle Literature London Travel Writing

I’m off to old student country, Wales, this weekend. Haven’t been back in a while and very much looking forward to it.

Digging through my old folder of creative writing, I found the following bit of prose. I remember being heavily influenced by modern Welsh Literature at the time (Mud Puppy, Cardiff Dead). Seems apt to publish it today:

I once read that between London Paddington and Cardiff Central there’s a ghost train. Maybe that makes the M4 its cemetery; a long line of bones that pile up behind my rear window in banks of Newport mud. The tide and rain bury them easily.

There’s something about the Severn crossing that makes me repeat myself. The outside lane’s too close to the edge, but the traffic’s too fast on the inside. And so I sit at 70, negotiating the crossing from east to west, west to east.

The cancerous tide is always tall and mostly fickle. It breathes in, up, out, down, as if its bloated lungs can’t quite decide where to relax.

I’ve got a driving playlist that let me sing, by instinct. A brown envelope with biroed directions sits still, like a tombstone, in the glove box from the first time I drove this road. The tide rolls, inevitably, impatiently.

At Home One there’s old post in a pile, a folded blanket and people who have the same black hair and the same last name.

At Other Home One there’s a two-hour bath, a tenner to spend on cheap Chinese and a double bed.

Over the bridge I hear the ghosts of both. Maybe that’s why I always drive down the middle.

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