"if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi." -Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence(2003)

On Travel By Train

Years ago, which now seems like aeons, if not a previous life, when we were in school (we meaning me and my classmates), we had this essay, the one this post's title mentions, by J.B Priestley.

They say technology has come a long way, and you can find almost anything with Google, but this was not exactly the case when i tried find this particular essay.
However, good sense and persistence prevailed and I managed to find something that, according to my recollection of the essay, thanks to our English teachers' hounding, seems right.
The only thing I can't seem to remember is how it ends. So I don't know if the text below is in its entirety.

Remove an Englishman from his hearth and home, his centre of corporal life, and he becomes a very different creature, one capable of sudden furies and roaring passions, a deep sea of strong emotions churning beneath his frozen exterior. I can pass, at all times, for a quiet, neighbourly fellow, yet I have sat, more than once, in a railway carriage with black murder in my heart. At the mere sight of some probably inoffensive fellow-passenger my whole being will be invaded by a million devils of wrath, and I 'could do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on.'
There is one type of traveller that never fails to rouse my quick hatred. She is a large, middle-aged woman, with a rasping voice and a face of brass. Above all things, she loves to invade smoking compartments that are already comfortably filled with a quiet company of smokers ; she will come bustling in, shouting over her shoulder at her last victim, a prostrate porter, and, laden with packages of all maddening shapes and sizes, she will glare defiantly about her until some unfortunate has given up his seat. She is often accompanied by some sort of contemptible, whining cur that is only one degree less offensive than its mistress. From the moment that she has wedged herself in there will be no more peace in the carriage, but simmering hatred, and everywhere dark looks and muttered threats. But everyone knows her. Courtesy and modesty perished in the world of travel on the day when she took her first journey ; but it will not be long before she is in hourly danger of extinction, for there are strong men in our midst.
There are other types of railway travellers, not so offensive as the above, which combines all the bad qualities, but still annoying in a varying degree to most of us ; and of these others I will enumerate one or two of the commonest. First, there are those who, when they would go on a journey, take all their odd chattels and household utensils and parcel them up in brown paper, dis- daining such things as boxes and trunks ; furthermore, when such eccentrics have loaded themselves up with queer-shaped packages they will cast about for baskets of fruit and bunches of flowers to add to their own and other people's misery. Then there are the simple folks who are for ever eat- ing and drinking in railway carriages. No sooner are they settled in their seats but they are passing each other tattered sandwiches and mournful scraps of pastry, and talking with their mouths full, and scattering crumbs over the trousers of fastidious old gentlemen. Sometimes they will peel and eat bananas with such rapidity that nervous onlookers are compelled to seek another compartment.
Some children do not make good travelling companions, for they will do nothing but whimper or howl throughout a journey, or they will spend all their time daubing their faces with chocolate or trying to climb out of the window. And the cranks are always with us ; on the bleakest day, they it is who insist on all the windows being open, but in the sultriest season they go about in mortal fear of draughts, and will not allow a window to be touched.
More to my taste are the innocents who always find themselves in the wrong train. They have not the understanding necessary to fathom the time-tables, nor will they ask the railway officials for advice, so they climb into the first train that comes, and trust to luck. When they are being hurtled towards Edinburgh, they will suddenly look round the carriage and ask, with a mild touch of pathos, if they are in the right train for Bristol. And then, puzzled and disillusioned, they have to be bundled out at the next station, and we see them no more. I have often wondered if these simple voyagers ever reach their destinations, for it is not outside probability that they may be shot from station to station, line to line, until there is nothing mortal left of them.
Above all other railway travellers, I envy the mighty sleepers, descendants of the Seven of Ephesus. How often, on a long, uninteresting journey, have I envied them their sweet oblivion. With Lethe at their command, no dull, empty train journey, by day or night, has any terrors for them. Knowing the length of time they have to spend in the train, they compose themselves and are off to sleep in a moment, probably enjoying the gorgeous adventures of dream while the rest of us are looking blankly out of the window or counting our fingers. Two minutes from their destination they stir, rub their eyes, stretch themselves, collect their baggage, and, peering out of the window, murmur : ' My station, I think.' A moment later they go out, alert and refreshed, Lords of Travel, leaving us to our boredom.
Seafaring men make good companions on a railway journey. They are always ready for a pipe and a crack with any man, and there is usually some entertaining matter in their talk. But they are not often met with away from the coast towns. Nor do we often come across the confidential stranger in an English railway carriage, though his company is inevitable on the Continent and, I believe, in America. When the confidential stranger does make an appearance here, he is usually a very dull dog, who compels us to yawn through the interminable story of his life, and rides some wretched old hobby- horse to death.
There is one more type of traveller that must be mentioned here, if only for the guidance of the young and simple. He is usually an elderly man, neatly dressed, but a little tobacco-stained, always seated in a corner, and he opens the conversation by pulling out a gold hunter and remarking that the train is at least three minutes behind time. Then, with the slightest encouragement, he will begin to talk, and his talk will be all of trains. As some men discuss their acquaintances, or others speak of violins or roses, so he talks of trains, their history, their quality, their destiny. All his days and nights seem to have been passed in railway carriages, all his reading seems to have been in time-tables. He will tell you of the 12.35 from this place and the 3.49 from the other place, and how the 10.18 ran from So-and-so to So-and-so in such a time, and how the 8.26 was taken off and the 5.10 was put on; and the greatness of his subject moves him to eloquence, and there is passion and mastery in his voice, now wailing over a missed connection or a departed hero of trains, now exultantly proclaiming the glories of a non-stop express or a wonderful run to time. However dead you were to the passion, the splendour, the pathos, in this matter of trains, before he has done with you you will be ready to weep over the 7.37 and cry out in ecstasy at the sight of the 2.52.
Beware of the elderly man who sits in the corner of the carriage and says that the train is two minutes behind time, for he is the Ancient Mariner of railway travellers, and will hold you with his glittering eye. 

Prelude to a Wedding

She looked at him from across, descending the stairs gracefully and fell in love with him all over again. He looked sure of himself, his hair swept back, a happy hint of a smile on his radiant face. He did not rush down the carpeted staircase, but climbed down one step at a time, his head held high, not looking anywhere in particular. He had one hand in his trouser pocket, while the other hung loose by his side.

The audience below cheered, then raised their glasses, but she didn't hear any of it. Her gleaming eyes followed him, a slight smile spreading, as she felt her heart pound louder in her chest. Subconsciously, she stopped curling the single strand of hair the stylist had let fall from the high chignon and grasped the handrail with trembling hands.

He hardly noticed the cheering crowd. He was just looking at the spot he had chosen beneath the crystal chandelier where he would stand and wait for her. The staircase spiraled down towards it, its rich maroon carpet soft under his soles, leading him like beacons on a landing strip guide a descending aircraft. Guests stood in groups like small islands in a cove, dressed in their best for the occasion. A live band played soft jazz at one end, their brass instruments shining in the warm glow of opulent lighting. He heard nothing, just a tranquil silence. He might as well have been taking a stroll in the forest.

She saw him stop and turn to look up at her, his eyes warm and inviting. She suddenly felt weak in her knees, and tightened her gripped on the banister, blushing. For a moment, she thought she would collapse. Then, hypnotized, she began climbing down slowly from the other side of the staircase, as if he were a magnet pulling her towards him. She neither noticed the crowd nor the music. He was all she saw.

He looked at her mesmerized. She seemed like an angel descending from heaven, her white dress gliding softly behind her, her eyes smiling. Long earrings dangled from her lobes and bounced at every step. Her stilettos left behind soft indents in the thick carpet. The spartan necklace was prominent against her glowing skin. He was certain he could see a halo around her.

He offered her his hand as she reached the bottom of the stairs, as if inviting her to a dance. She let go of the rail to take up his offer, without realizing it. His warm hand was reassuring, unlike the cold handrail, his grip light, but firm. She immediately felt a rush of energy surging through him, as if he were an electrical outlet providing her the charge she needed to function. He helped her off the stairs and brought her gingerly in the center of the room, underneath the chandelier.
Still holding her hand gently by the fingers, he dropped to one knee, and felt stronger, rather than weaker.
The crowd gathered automatically around them as they saw him present her the ring. It did not see him look lovingly into her eyes, now moist with a thin film of tears clouding her vision. Nor did it see her nod her head imperceptibly, as she returned the look with an approving smile.
"Yes, a thousand times yes", she thought, fighting to keep her eyes from tearing up, but failing.
He slipped the ring in her finger, its solitaire refracting light in her eyes. She blinked, her long eyelashes covering her eye for a brief instant, then abruptly glanced upwards, afraid that the levee would break and tears would come streaming down from her eyes.
When she looked back, he was standing right in front of her. Their fingers locked, as did their eyes and they had lived a lifetime in that instant.

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