To me, they are a living symbol of what the recovery will represent when it arrives. This is in part because they will signal the return of my commuting routine, the cup of coffee on platform two at Wandsworth Common station and the occasional skirmish with an over-iced Danish pastry. These little pleasures, these little journeys, will for a while have the feel of an exorbitant luxury that not even Versace, Fabergé or the Medicis could match.
But, I'm afraid, they will in time become utterly prosaic again. In a good way, but nevertheless in a mundane way. Which is why they are not the main part of my current infatuation with the rolling stock of south-west London. Because, for me, these inanimate, rolling objects represent much more than the promise of a return to a familiar and comfortable routine. They represent something far more profound and far more admirable. These are the vehicles of our salvation, the transport for our NHS workers, the freight for our post, our produce and our grain, the carriages for our shelf-stackers, our pharmacists, our building society workers, our teachers, our carers, our network engineers and our warehouse workers.
When I go for my one allocated bout of exercise each day (far more than my pre-Covid-19 strike rate, I might add, although not really meriting a tracksuit), I make a point of hugging the paths nearest the railway down from Bellevue all along Bolingbroke Grove to Clapham Junction, or along Boundaries Road and Chestnut Grove to Bedford Hill and Balham station. Each train I see feels like a blessing. Proof that the people who make our country run and who preserve our health are still going about their business, still showing true grit, still keeping us literally on track.