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small red square The train which crashed was an Inter-City Express (ICE), specifically the Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, ICE 884. I believe a dozen years have passed since the Trans-Europe Express (which Kraftwerk sang about) was replaced by the ICE. I've walked around inside an ICE train waiting on a platform, but I haven't actually ridden one - the surcharge is quite high, and I've never been in that much of a hurry. Both the Inter-City (IC) and ICE trains have a surcharge (or Zuschlag) on top of the usual fare, which are specific to a scheduled train - hence you're inhibited from hopping off an IC if the town looks interesting, because you'll have to pay another 8DM Zuschlag if the next train's also an express. And the ICE isn't stopping anyway. I rode once on the Trans-Europe Express (TEE) - I think that was in 1984, but it may have been earlier, in '78. The trip wasn't long, I think from The Hague (where the British ferries dock) to Düsseldorf, but I wanted to experience the "top of the line". The doors at the end of each carriage opened automatically, and there were pay-phone booths opposite the WC.

small yellow square There's a book I'd love to get, but I know almost nothing about how to identify it - all I have is a strong tropical memory from 1966: That year, for reading/social studies, we had brand-new books. (This was my last year in that school, sixth grade.) There was a story near the front of this book about an island boy, perhaps in Hawaii or somewhere in the South Pacific. The climax was when he rode a slide and either got in trouble, because he did it the night before he was supposed to, or rides was reserved for royalty and he was forbidden, and/or maybe by riding it then he saved the day - whatever, it was a polished run down the side of the mountain, like a flume. The story wasn't what sent me, so much as these bright pictures: so evocative of that polynesian fantasy - golden-brown people living happily in an oceanside jungle wearing colorful garments (and right about then was when I got my first Hawaiian shirts). One especially memorable illustration showed him on the mountain-top - dark blue night-time skies behind him, and below, yellow reflections off the cobalt-blue ocean. I remember once prowling that school's hallways years later when I was there to see a play featuring my little brother N. The old custodian (Mr. Briscoe) confronted and challenged me, asking my purpose - I could only babble guiltily. The rows of books in the bookshelves I was scanning in those familiar old hallways had no recognizable spines. A good thing, I guess - had I found it I would've tried to swipe a copy, and just imagine the humiliation of a special night-time office visit with Mr. Lloyd, my old paddle-wielding principle, years after my graduation! <1>

small green square I'm giving up on Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (he also wrote Turtle Diary). This book looks interesting, it's a post-apocalyptic set in England but reading it's just too much work. The first-person narrative is written entirely in this future-possible dialect, all phonic-spelling and abbreviated. I want to know what happens, but the vocabulary gets dense and there's no glossary in the back. <2>. Something light and science-fictiony is probably the next book.

DM - Deutsch Mark ($5 = ~ 8 DM)
WC - Water Closet (toilet)

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<1> He never actually hit me with the thing, although certain of my friends claimed to have felt its impact - but there was one time when he was especially annoyed with me, and he'd grabbed me by one arm and, with his free hand, he picked up his prominently-displayed weapon and brandished it - I forget my specific crime, there were so many... being sent to "the office" was a very common occurrence during this problem child's early years of socialization.) Back

<2> I read A Clockwork Orange in the common American mass-market edition. I understand not only did Anthony Burgess not want a Glossary (which I found invaluable), there's an entire final chapter which was omitted! Back