A memorial to student Tom Grant who was killed on a train in 2006 as he came to the aid of a stranger.


 Train Murder

From Glasgow to Paignton on the Virgin line,
The slash of the logo is red across grey.
A train is a good place to let time slip away,
Whilst trees and rivers invade the calm eye,
While cows and sheep dash swiftly by.
On how many trains have we pondered our lives,
Drank foul-tasting coffee, digested the news,
Wonder why cows always face the same way,
And how we’re now ‘customers,’ in these corporate times,
Instead of a ‘passenger’, like in the old days.
So the student sat in the midst of his thoughts,
Watching the sheep and the lambs smearing past,
Alive with life’s wonders and dreams of great feats,
He was young and adventurous, full sails on his mast.
No doubt he loved music and lyrical sounds,
So the raucous man’s rasp disturbed his ear,
As the yob berated the woman, near,
Filling the air with his loathsome abuse,
Bullying her as a yob is wont to do,
Hurting her ears whilst threatening her soul,
Spewing his poison for all to hear.
So the student, filled with life and endless hope,
Took his steps to his final stroke,
When his young, rich life would be cut off,
Future adventures slashed in mid air,
By the knife of a coward who’d nothing but despair,
All those adventures stopped in one thrust,
Of a villain’s sharp blade, a vile loathsome joke.
He had wanted to spare the pain of the girl,
As a man his compassion was sorely aroused,
By the cowardly bullying from the sour mouth,
The dirty sour mouth of the bullying lout.
As a man you must go to the aid of one hurt,
It’s your nature to protect, to defend the weak,
If you’re a man that’s what you do, you’re not meek,
You don’t walk by and pretend not to see,
And hope that others will be braver than you,
In case you get hurt and that will never do.
The trees and the cows and the sheep raced by,
While the train did not change it’s lullaby,
Da-da di dum, da-da di dum as it always has been,
As it always will be till the end of time.
But for this young man with his life stretched ahead,
Like a railway line to infinity,
Heart pounding within his chest, as he,
Strove to defend a woman and her kin.
The knife thudded down into his young breast,
While the train rumbled on, but his station had come,
The time to get off, his journey had ceased,
His life disappeared in the thrust of a knife,
And dissolved in the air, the end of his life.
The passengers screamed and were treated for shock,
While this brave young man, whose life had been stopped,
Whose life had been stopped like the hands of a clock.
So student, so young man, so brave and so good,
Others will feed and others will love,
Others will have the children you lost.
But for me and for others you’ll always be known,
You’ll always be known as that brave young man,
Who spirit was roused to do what he can,
Who chose not to sit while bending his nose,
Into the paper or reading his prose,
Or tapping your laptop and texting your tart,
While someone around you was being alarmed,
While some human being was being abused,
You gave your young life to go to the aid,
Of a helpless young woman, you were not afraid,
You did it since it was natural for you,
As natural as the beat in your heart,
That soon would be ended so shockingly soon,
As the knife thrust deep into the loom,
The loom where your life was spun out each day,
Your tapestry stopped, unfinished it lay.
The sheep are slowing, the train loses speed,
As the horror begins to reveal the deed,
His life blood is flowing, his clock strikes the last,
But for me and for others you’ll always be known,
As a brave student hero on whose shoulders we lean.
Without bold men like you, our lives would be mean,
While we cry at your grave and then maybe forget,
For it is people like you who protect our walls,
For men like you we must always give thanks,
In Ypres, or Auschwitz or even Dunkirk,
It was young men like you who came to our aid,
And now you join the ranks of the dead,
Dead heroes that we will never forget,
We’ll never forget the man on the train,
From Glasgow to Paignton, it won’t be the same.

1 June 2006

In memory of Tom Grant

Copyright © 2006 Steven Berkoff


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