My first holiday since I don’t know when, I’ve been waiting so long for this. Time to myself, get away from work and all that stress. Finally get to go somewhere I’ve always wanted to go to as well. I feel a bit like a kid, not felt like that for a long time. I feel a bit silly for feeling like this, it’s good though. It’s a bit like when you were at school and you going on a trip to some place that you’d spent all term learning about and now you’re actually going to get to see it. Ha ha, butterflies and excitement! I’m 30 not 10!
I’ve got my backpack on, no suit and tie and trousers, feeling relaxed. The underground train is full of people. Lots of tourists too, I’m a tourist at the moment! When I’m back home I always look at the tourists and the metro and laugh at them looking clueless, holding maps, running their fingers along them trying to find out where they want to go. I know where I want to go, I’ve already looked over the map a hundred times. I know exactly where to get off and exactly which entrance it is that I want to get off at.
I used to look at the pictures when I was kid, then I’d look at the map of London and find a place to start. I’d trace my fingers along each street and then along the underground lines until I got to my destination. Then I’d look at the pictures and pretend I was there, taking it all in. 20 years on and I’m here for real. At least I don’t look like a tourist though, well apart from the backpack, I probably look foreign too, you can always tell when some isn’t local!
The doors open on the carriage, I try to relax, not walk too fast, I don’t want to look like I am too eager. People will think I look silly if I do that. The big, round, red circle with Westminster written in the middle of it. My stomach flutters. How can someone get so excited about going to see a big clock? Ha ha, who cares? For once I’m going to allow myself to be a kid. I might even buy myself one of them souvenirs, the little model ones.
Up the stairs quickly, I can see the exit now, out on to the street. I’m smiling to myself, I don’t care if anyone sees me. I push past another couple of tourists in front of me, one of them is a kid, I want to get there in front of them! I look back at him and stick my tongue out, the kid looks at me like I’m crazy, his mother pulls him closer to her. Some people are just no fun! Another person next to me laughs and says something I don’t understand, I smile at them and they smile back.
Finally, out into the open. I can see the tower there in front of me. Hundreds of people below it taking pictures, taking selfies, smiling. It’s not just me that’s so happy to be here. I cross the road and stand on the green that is in front of Big Ben, looking up at it. Another two minutes and the bells will ring. I walk in front of someone taking a picture, I wave at them in apology, they smile. She points at me and makes the action of taking a picture. I give her my camera and she takes a picture for me.
You wait your whole life to see something, sometimes when you see it for real it is not the same as you thought it would be, you get disappointed but it’s not like that. It’s everything I thought it would be, not just the clock, the people the feeling, the excitement. I need to do things like this more often, stop working so hard, learn to enjoy my life a bit more, be more like I was when I was a kid, not take life so seriously.
I cross back over the road and walk up towards the bridge and the river. I’m going to walk all the way back to my hotel later, along the river, maybe stop in a few pubs and have a few drinks. I push through the crowds to get to the centre of bridge so I can take a good picture. My wife will love it, she rolled her eyes when I said I was going to London to see Big Ben but I know secretly she was pleased for me.
People are shouting and screaming, what is happening? I feel something hit against me, I think I’m on the floor but I can’t see anything. I can’t hear anything either. Have I been dreaming all of this? No, I can see the outline of the clock, loud noises but they all seem so far away. What’s happened? Now it’s all black, I want to sleep and never wake up, I’m so tired. At least I managed to see the clock, I can come back again another day.
Innocent people die because people are intolerant of other’s beliefs. Thoughts are with all those who were injured or died in London yesterday.