The People on Platform 5

The People on Platform 5 - Clare Pooley

Jennifer de Klerk: Commuters don’t talk to each other; it’s the first rule. Every day you travel the same route at the same time with the same people, but you don’t notice them unless they swallow a grape and nearly die.

That breaks the ice – slightly – even for these stiff-upper-lip Londoners on the train from Hampton Court to Waterloo station.

It takes flamboyant Iona, aka Rainbow Lady, Magic Handbag Lady, Crazy Dog Woman, who couldn’t be unnoticed if she tried, to push this odd group of commuter misfits the rest of the way.

Of course, it couldn’t happen in real life. There are not many Iona’s out there. This is feel-good fiction, a fairy-tale, a trip out of time. It’s good fun, anyway.

Hidden behind their phones, laptops and newspapers (very occasionally a book) the commuters wallow in their 21 century problems. Impossibly Sexy from Thames Ditton, the Seat Stealer from Surbiton, the Girl on the Train, the Grey Solicitor with the Sandwich, they all have their stories.

Unrequited love and office feuds are standard in any setting, but today you can add social influencers, trolling, cyberbullying, Tik Tok, Instagram and online trading …

As the People on Platform 5 whiz through their stops and exchange stories on their daily commutes, they discover solutions for each other’s problems. The Troubled Teen can enlighten the ageing magazine Agony Aunt about millennial concerns, the Gorgeous Paramedic can rescue The Damsel in Distress … and maybe, just maybe, there’s an answer for their own problems too.

Light-hearted and breezy, heart-warming and funny, this is an easy and entertaining read which touches on real-life issues and real-life pain, even if solutions are simple in the magic bubble of the train.

If only it were true. If only people could connect and find sense in each other! If only there were more Iona’s, Rainbow Ladies, unafraid to put themselves in the limelight, to demand not a slice of life, but the whole cake.

Never mind. You can still connect to The People on Platform 5! It’s a torrent of fresh air.


The People on Platform 5
Clare Pooley
Penguin/Random House
ISDNS 9781787631809


Jennifer de Klerk is editor of Artslink.co.za