Win Tickets to A View From Moving Windows!

Photo credit: Felicity Pickering

Want to win two tickets to A View From Moving Windows? Post us your favourite picture that relates to train travel or tweet us a train or Parramatta related microfiction (story in 140 characters or less). The winners get two tickets to the show! If you tweet the microfiction make sure you tweet it to @aviewfrommoving and use the hashtag #aviewfrommovingwindows .

Here are some of the great microfictions we’ve already received:

Tina Ngo @NgoTina

A sea of blue and white crowd a train, watching them cry over their loss. #winning #microfictions

Andy Pantts @AndyPantts

@aviewfrommoving Icecream hands. Shirt stuck to back. Burnt, pink skin. Crowded trains to the beach. Sand in my bed for months. Summer time.

Chris Comerford @ChrisComerford3

@aviewfrommoving My life on trains is like a Tom Clancy novel – long and repetitive.

Olivia Mayberry @omayberry1

@aviewfrommoving I’d made it to my stop. Unfortunately my bag hadn’t. I watched as it swept past me, the school boys laughing.#microfiction

Can you do better? Tweet it! You can also post a microfiction or leave a story on our facebook page.

Katie Pollock

Katie Pollock is a busy bee. At the moment her writing is being performed in ‘Heart Dot Com’ at Tap Gallery and from November 13-24th she’s got her play ‘The Blue Angel Hotel’ performing at The Old Fitzroy Theatre. In between she’s made time to write for us!

Hollering and Carrying On

It’s March 1993. I’m somewhere north of Penang, impossible to say exactly where, as the only thing I’ve seen out the train window since I woke up is miles on miles of rice paddies. By any dictionary definition it’s beautiful, but I’m not enjoying the view. I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in Singapore.

I’ve been working as a journalist in Bangkok and my three-month non-working visa has expired, forcing me on the non-resident’s quarterly jaunt, the visa trip: leave the country, get your passport stamped, turn around, get your re-entry stamp and dodge the immigration police for another three months. If you’re smart or worth more than the local wage, you turn the visa trip into a little holiday and escape the fumes and madness that is Bangkok in the early 90s. Apparently I am neither.
Fed up with the hassle that is daily life in the Big Mango, I’ve scraped together enough money to get a flight and a few days in clean and orderly Singapore, but not enough to waste on a taxi to Don Muang Airport. The airport bus takes a full four hours to reach its destination and, despite a last-minute dash of hope through departures, I miss the flight. The next available is two days away, just when I’m due back at work. I spend an hour on the floor gasping and crying, then make my way to the train station and catch the train to Penang for the cheapest visa turnaround trip possible, which leaves me here, looking out the window at the rice paddies and wondering why the train has stopped.
Breakfast was hours ago and the baggies of my favourite train food – fried chicken and sticky rice – are long-since empty. I stick my head out the window to try and find out what’s going on. People are spilling out the train, hollering and carrying on.
There’s a cow on the tracks and it won’t be moved.
Not because it’s dead, but because most of the hollerers are Muslims and none of the non-hollerers on the train have been asked to join the bovine removal activities. So we wait and stare out the window.

Twenty four hours ago I was crying on an airport floor. Now I have my visa, and a freshly made memory of emerald rice paddies that will stay with me for at least another 20 years. Eventually the cow wanders off and the train shudders into gear, pulling me forwards into the frenzy of my daily life.

Just recently, a cow decided to park itself right in the middle of my playwriting tracks. It came as a shock and I spent some time on the floor gasping and crying. I contemplated getting off the train, but that would have left me stranded in a field somewhere north of nowhere. So I hollered and carried on and kicked the beast as hard as I could until eventually, finally, it shifted, allowing me to renew my non-resident writer’s visa for another few months. As part of this trip, I’m checking into The Old Fitzroy in November. I hope you can join me.
The Blue Angel Hotel by Katie Pollock, directed by Aarne Neeme, The Old Fitzroy,
November 13-24. Tickets from www.rocksurfers.org

Luke Carson

Luke is currently filming his hardcore rap video “East Suburbia Gangstas” for the Hugo Posse Bosse which he wrote & produced. Luke is currently working on the final draft of his first full length play “Second Time Around” Dramaturged by Augusta Supple. This is his hilarious train story… 

A View From (not so) Moving Windows. – A true story by Luke Carson

9:45pm I catch a train at Newcastle to Central.

As I take my seat on the train I remind myself that I need to feed Mingo, the French bulldog I’m puppy sitting. With two hours before my change over at Gosford the humming of “the last train to Sydney” sends me off to sleep.

11:45pm I wake from my slumber, the train has stopped, probably waiting for a signal. I drift back to sleep.

11:55pm I wake again with a jolt, the train is still. I look out the window onto an empty car park protected by a metal spiked fence.

I look around but I don’t see anyone. I go from carriage to carriage trying to find the platform. I’m sure Gosford isn’t a short platform. A door is open and I can see there is no platform either way. I bang on the security door, nothing. I run through every carriage pressing THAT red button, I always thought it would be a thrill. It wasn’t. No alarm, no bells, no computerised voices.

I lean out the open doors. I look out – car park, I look down – train tracks, I look to my right and see my fate for the night. A stationed train.

“What the fuck” I yell at it.

Okay breath, first things first. Work.

“Hey dude, I can’t come in I’m stuck on a train.”

“What, Where are you?”

“I don’t know”

“That’s really inconvenient.”

Yes, yes it is. I call my mum.

“Mum, I’m stuck on a train” “What do mean you’re stuck on the train.” “I’m stuck on a train they didn’t do a walk through and wake me up” “It’s hardly their responsibility to wake you up.” “What do I do.” “I don’t know Luke. Should I call the police?”

My phone beeps 10% battery WTF!

“I got to go. I’ll call security.” “I’ll wake your father”

Father’s day. Shit!

I call the security hotline. They say the will send out a team. I imagine a pack of burly men with Pit bulls fighting through electrical wire to save me.

Fifteen minutes later a stocky woman in her 20’s yells from across the tracks.

“You alright mate?” “Not really. I’m stuck on the fucking train.” “You’re the third one tonight. I’ll go get my toey.”

The second in charge arrives and opens up the driver’s compartment. I exit via the train stairs and am back to civilisation.

He explains that he had to put his dog away that’s why he took so long. I tell him about Mingo. He points to a gate.

“Through there”

“Thank you.”

12:45am A man brown eyes me twice and asks what I’m looking at.

1:00am I catch the security guard talking to himself.

1:20am someone starts to kick the bus shelter outside the train station.

The Security guard is mid argument with himself.

1:52am Dad picks me up 3:45am I arrive in Newcastle 6 hours after I left for Sydney

If Mingo could talk I’m sure she would say. “What the fuck.”

Photo Credit: Luke Carson

Photo Credit: Luke Carson

Gavin Roach

Gavin Roach has travelled to lots of places during the tour of his one man show ‘Confessions of a Grindr Addict’. He’s gone to Melbourne, Newcastle and even Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but he still has a soft spot for Parramatta and…

The Space Inbetween 

Gavin’s house in Newtown. Photo Credit: Gavin

I live between two worlds. Parramatta, familiar and full of childhood rich memories and Newtown borderline new with shades of independence. Both I feel at home in, both ground me and inspire, and since moving to the Inner-West five years ago, I have spent many hours traveling between the two.

The journey between can, for some, seem cumbersome and long. A journey not as straight forward as it would seem and one that has a tendency to abruptly stop for extended lengths of time between stations. But for me the trip has an almost romance to it.

After boarding the train at Newtown station, I usually like to head straight upstairs and grab a window seat. Sometimes on the right, other times on the left. The height gives me the perfect vantage point to watch the ever-changing landscape.

The station gives way to compacted terrace house, clinging together, saturated with old world charm. The scene is often dotted with plush new apartment buildings that is testament to the rapid gentrification of the inner-west. I count the houses I’d want, the changes I would make and the dwellings that I would discard, head shaking at the décor choices.

As the train speeds to Ashfield the houses slowly let go of each other, yard sizes increase, bikes with training wheels dot the front gates and cultures clash in harmony.

As we pull out from Ashfield the scene changes again, we glide rapidly through forgotten suburbs, areas of outer Sydney that have been neglected from limited station use, streets littered with cracking buildings and peeled paint. Faded reminders of a once prosperous time.

One can never get too settled on the journey though, as when the train arrives at Strathfield its time to alight and try with all your might to defy the speed of sound and make it to the connecting train in time. If the train is missed however, which is often the case, the station does provide a temporary inhabitant a true reflection of Sydney’s true diversity. Here all walks of life meet, pass each other, journey together. This is Sydney in its purest form.

Once settled on the train to further west, you can’t help but feel the push of the express service. The train gathers speed as houses briskly change to industrial land and back again. Suburban landscapes wash the windows; pillars of industrial glory rise and fall. Construction and change hurl into view as your eyes try to keep up with the train.

Familiar shades of suburbia fall upon me as we roll through Granville. A silence whispers through the carriage, a knowing of what once happened here. And there in the distance, just around the bend is home, is a childhood memory, Parramatta.

We all alight and go on our way, myself I continue on to a bus, ready for a new vantage point, a new burst of scenery, all the while holding the memories made from the space in between.

To read more of Gavin’s writing check out his Huffington Post blog.

 

Marcelle Schmitz

  Marcelle Schmitz captures the ambiance, characters and chaos
of a train ride to Central Station.

Photo credit: Felicity Pickering

The train didn’t stop at Newtown yesterday. Another young man had killed himself. As we pull through this grey morning, I can’t help looking to see if there’s any, what, any evidence, any blood, any….remains. Something that proves that it happened, though I know it did. Or maybe this curiosity is pure morbidity. But there was no sign, no stain, no bunch of flowers. Just the usual throng of workers and crazies, hopers and no-hopers surging towards the doors and stuffing the carriage with smells and body mass and noise. Multi-layered voices and arbitrary music fills the space. Volume, pitch and rhythm lurching wildly, randomly into a symphonic cacophany of monologue, dialogue, multi-logue, shout and whisper, and I find myself selectively tuning in, and out. How to recreate this in the theatre? How to orchestrate such intricate, complex patterns? The cuing, timing, shifts in volume and tone, not to mention content, meaning…..plus the surround-sound-ness…. and it’s the shapelessness, the un-orchestratedness, that makes it live…. Caryl Churchill only uses two voices…..you’d have to improvise. Tuning in.

Yeah, she’s gotta get forty more votes. ….An ipad 2. …..An ipad 2, that’s what she can win if she gets enough votes……Facebook….. Nah, me either I thought it was shit but still, she could get an ipad 2 and she’ll let me use it. I’ll make her let me use it. It’s got iOp, imovies, imessage, imail, itunes icloud… I know. Gotta go. Message me later. And vote for her even if you did hate it. …….. No. Coz I got hacked. I got hacked and somebody’s been using it. I know. I know but the bank said they can’t close the account. I don’t know they just said they couldn’t. ……Well dad said he’d lend me some but he’s fifo now so I have to wait till he gets back. I’ve still got my other ones. Yeah just the Mastercard. No it was from ebay. E-bay. Remember when I bought those shoes, my yellow ones? Yeah well I paid it on my Mastercard on Ebay and … Oh what, but you said you were gonna wait for me, we were gonna go together. How long will you be there, will you still be there when I finish? I wanna go shopping with you I need some lipstick.

Tune out. Lipstick. Need. Really? Can one really need lipstick? The boy who killed himself, don’t ask why. There’s no reason and every reason. Out the window it’s drizzling as we pull into Central. An old man sleeps with his bottle, a young man on his Iphone nearby.

I pad, I phone, I Op, I movie, I message, I mail, I tune, I cloud… I know. Message me later. I. I. I. I know. Another young man is dead.
Gen X Gen Y Gen I…I.I. I know. 
No-one’s to blame. How can you blame them, who can you blame.

But it’s I. I. I. All the way in the wheelbarrow. To hell. Which is here. On a train. Not that I’m above them, not that I’m below. I’m amongst. Amongst. And trying to get by. But this I. This I. This I is driving me in the wheelbarrow. To here. To Central.

John AD Fraser

A View From Moving Windows writer John AD Fraser
asks where is the love for trains?

The last train outta Sydney’s almost gone.

Trains need love. We don’t sing about them enough. The last train we did love was Chisel’s last one outta Sydney in Khe Sanh, a lyric we were already too drunk to listen to properly, unless we mastered tunnel-free underwater rail engineering in the 70s and then forgot all about it.

It’s not just trains. We don’t sing about anything, at least in public. Or when we do, in London or Berlin or Koh Samui, we trail off from the oceans to the Silver City and mumble into our bundy and coke. Advance Australia Fair. Embarrassment central. Down Under. Tell us we’re dreaming.

Trains are for dreamers. You can write, you can think, you can fire up your mind or you can let it drift away with the passing clouds. Buses are too rigid and melancholy, cars blokey and functional. Paul Kelly chips in about buses, but he’s the exception to pretty much everything. On the Road swiped the literary space for cars, where they still reign supreme, handy mobile storage space for our homies. Gary Numan sang Cars, which tells you all you need to know.

In the US they have the right idea, or rather they did.

Woody Guthrie was Bound for Glory on his train. Elvis pondered a Mystery. The Band’s drove old Dixie down. And then we hit the buffers. The Grateful Dead were the last to sing about trains, on Casey Jones, ‘Driving that train, high on cocaine/ Casey Jones you’d better watch your speed’, the soaring railroad beauty of Jack Straw, ‘Catch the Detroit Lightning out of Santa Fe/the Great Northern, out of Cheyenne, from sea to shining sea’ to the clunkily metaphored Tons of Steel ‘I know these rails we’re on like I know my lady’s smile/ We see a dozen dreams in every passing mile’, mirroring their lyric cycle from adolescence through maturity to bitter old age.

Yeah, it was all a while ago. Time to bring back the love. Songwriters have given up, so it’s all ours. Fire that ole engine onto the stage. But where to start?

In the last eighteen months I’ve been on trains too often to Gosford (aagh), not enough to Seville, Grenada and Cordoba (aah), and from manic south London rehearsal studios to Lairg in northern Scotland (aw), where it dropped me in time to meet the wee postal van that is the only ‘public’ transport to the other coast of the country, to be welcomed by a charming local poet who lives on the shore. She’s lived on the land for two decades without a permanent house, shifting with the seasons. Happy journeys never end.

So welcome to the railhead of Parramatta playwriting. Maybe that’s where Barnesey’s mythical last train outta Sydney’s was always headed. Right here.

Who really cares if the words aren’t perfect? It’s the vibe of the thing.

 

Emrys Quin

Emry Quin writes about the memories that came back through the
A View From Moving Windows process. 

Photo cred: Felicity Pickering

I never caught the train as a kid, and up until I left school all my train-indulging schoolmates complained about CityRail so much I think there was this sense of underground-transport contempt hammered into me from a young age.

My first long term girlfriend lived in Richmond though, so I became familiar with the Parramatta line; A View from Moving Windows came as a bit of a nostalgic throb because I just started enjoying the train trips a week before we broke up. Also, being given justification to pretend to be Sherlock Holmes (childhood hero) on a train by asking strangers what I thought at the time were incredibly probing questions about minor details, like ‘why converse shoes?’ and concocting life stories based on their answers – that was fun.

 

Erica J Brennan

For today’s blog post theatre director and performer Erica J Brennan
speaks of
 her debut into writing. 

My First Fury – Trains and Inspiration 

It was on long consistent train trips that I began my very first foray in to what I would loosely deem writing. I was a far too energetic 17 year old and I didn’t write plays. I didn’t really know then I’d end up the absolutely mad theatre practitioner I am today. Instead I wrote a completely self indulgent, uninhibited love story.

‘The Cupid Project’ was the first thing I really wrote about furiously and with complete devotion. It was a carefully imagined fantasy novel that was written only because I lived 2 hours from my high school and spent at least half of that trip on my own. I have fidgety hands and had to do something. My art and design projects couldn’t be easy constructed from a train seat so I turned to writing. It was mostly hand written with terrible spelling, but I wrote for me and thought I was rather grand. One day after I had been writing for several months a tiny friend of mine (as in very short she is a very important friend despite her height challenged nature) grabbed it out of my hands and fell in love with it. So much so she insisted I write her into it. She also demanded I type it because my spelling really was abominable. Due to her loud advocacy I soon had a small group of hungry school commuters who would greet me every morning searching for the next chapter. I was still quite the sketch artist then and I also had to produce regular drawings of character designs and illustrated scenes from the book too. It was a real delight to give them this bizarre world to enter into. Strangely for me I never finished it for them but I’m quite proud of that quarter finished novel. It represents the first time I remember really being okay with the weirdness that I am.

In 2005 I gave away the only hard copy I had of it to a fellow Blue Mountains train liner who I went to Acting School with at the now defunct Theatre Nepean. It was during a bonding exercise we had to gift people with a personal item. They heard the story attached to it and then they got to keep it forever. My friend thought the story I attached about writing it almost better than the novel but he did enjoyed my 17 year old tapings too. I haven’t even looked at it since then but my tiny friend still bugs me to finish it and quotes its catch phrases from her new Canberra home. Perhaps if the stars align and I once again find myself alone and energetically fidgety on my beloved Blue Mountains train line I will turn once more to the epic love story that crosses oceans and age gaps and finally finish ‘The Cupid Project.’ I’d be surprised if anybody except me and her would want to read it these days but that would be enough.

Nick Parsons

To start the week right we have a blog post from three time AWGIE award winner  Nick Parsons! Make sure you check out his full profile on our Writers page. He’s written ‘The Carriage’ for A View From Moving Windows.

’9.02 p.m. on the Lithgow train.’

The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

What, do I fear myself? There’s none else by:

Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.

Is there a murderer here? No – yes, I am.

(Shakespeare, Richard III, V, iii.)