A journey taken every day, often the same people sitting there in the carriage that you’ve claimed for yourself, it’s yours and these people are being allowed to share it with you. Looking at insurance and holiday adverts above the person opposite. Eye contact is a glimpse in to their soul and they’re not going to give you that, who knows what they’ll give away? The person who gets off the train at that obscure stop which you know nothing about, what’s there? Who even lives there? Why does that old Chinese lady live in Warwick Avenue?
Cities are big places, you know barely anyone, those you do know, their lives are no longer interesting because they’ve told you a thousand times about that time they went to India to find themselves while dropping acid with washed out hippies. So cool, man! they probably never went anyway. Cynicism, why do you have to be so cynical? That guy over there, holding his sleeping bag, tattered trousers, big beard and a bright red jacket, he doesn’t look like he belongs, he sticks out, I bet he has a proper story to tell.
Oxford Circus, the tourists pour on and off the train, excited little kids with their mothers secretly hoping that mum is going to buy them something nice, already planning what they’ll do with their new toy when they get home, the chance of disappointment buried deep at the back of their minds because for the next couple of hours they’ll be living in hope, hope for the simplest of things. Like when you were a kid, when your mum used to take you to Oxford Street so you could look at the shop windows and the lights and the thousands of big red buses, and the people, so many people. You’re envious of that kid, a day living the innocence of childhood again would be the greatest Christmas present.
It’s enough to make you smile and remember that it isn’t all doom and gloom and the world isn’t about to end because that’s all the television and your friends on social media are telling you. It’s a great place to live, you should have got off at Regent’s Park and taken a trip to the zoo, it’s a long time since you’ve been to the zoo. They’ve got a new panda apparently. You could nip over to Madame Tussauds while you’re there as well, you’ve always wanted to meet William Shakespeare, lose yourself in your own little world, recapture the imagination that’s been lost in a world of facts and information overload.
All the sights and sounds, without the people there’d be no sights and sounds. Cities and towns and villages across the world, it’s the people who make them. Even the ticket inspector who stopped you yesterday and told you you had to pay a fine because you’d bought the wrong ticket, you’re still wishing ill upon him now, the thought of him makes you furrow your brow, I wonder when he went home did he give me a second thought? I doubt it, there’s no conscience for the wicked. I bet he’s doing the same thing to another misfortunate right now, he’ll be enjoying it too.
That uncle of yours, the one who lives in Kilburn, the Irish fella who came over on the boat years ago, long before your mother, I bet he’d have told him where to go. You should go up and see him soon, it’s been a long time since you’ve sat in the bars of County Kilburn with a pint of Guinness, the soft voice of uncle Mickey telling you stories that make you laugh, pints flowing, songs of rebels and fields in the background.
People get up, careful not to bang into someone else, fear of confrontation, fear of exposure. God forbid someone interacts with them. Your little dream well broken as the doors open and the rush up the stairs to the world above begins. The Elephant and Castle, there aren’t any elephants, and the castles are bright pink. All change please, this train terminates here, all change. Queen’s Park to The Elephant, sixteen stations, sixteen different people all with tales to tell.
The introduction to my new book which is available for pre order on Amazon here.