Monday 1 October 2018


I was on New Cross Gate station and

it was late, trains were being cancelled,

there weren’t many of us waiting, some

people had given up, gone back upstairs

and looking for night buses, the lights from

Sainsbury’s were being switched off, and

I noticed some rats, they were coming out

of a concrete ditch next to the platform

and on to the platform itself, people said

that’s what happens when people chuck

their take-aways away, they end up in that

ditch and the rats feed off it, and soon there

were as many as ten or even twenty rats

all over Platform 5 and some of them were

bold enough to come right up to our feet

as if our shoes were good to eat, and then

this guy with coloured trousers standing next

to me said he was starving, and I said, me

too, though I’d just had a houmous wrap

from the Beirut and he was staring at the rats,

like he was jealous of them that they had

plenty to eat and still no train came, and

he groped inside his jacket and took out

a kind of toasting fork, a long spiky fork

thing and before anyone said anything he

speared one of the rats. The rest of us

looked a bit startled but covered it with shrugs

and smiles and then he knelt down and killed

it with a little penknife. He took a flattened

tin can thing out of another one of his pockets,

laid it down on the platform, filled it up with bits

of stuff that I couldn’t quite make out in the dark,

but he lit it with a lighter and laid a kind of grille

over the top of it, and just as quickly and neatly

put the rat on top. He was roasting the rat

on platform 5 of New Cross Gate Station. The

little group of us standing there were staring

and there was one guy saying over and over

again, ‘I don’t believe this...’ And still no train

came and you could smell the rat cooking.

I was wondering why he hadn’t skinned

it before he put it on the grill but he had

other plans because after a while, he used

his fork to pull the rat off and he laid it down

on a paper plate he had pulled out of another

pocket and he started to skin it. Just then

we heard the train coming and though I wanted

to see whether he really was going to eat it

I was pretty keen to get home, I had an

early start in the morning and so I got on

the train and as it pulled out, I thought I

saw him, pick a bit of the rat up towards

his mouth, but I can’t say I’m 100% sure

of it.