When I first moved to London, I loved sitting on the tube. There was the blue, red, white as well as the yellow Mind The Gap letters. To clarify upfront, there is still love left for the tube. But as relationships change over time, so did my tube relationship. Being part of the 9-5 gang, we know those rush hours all too well.
Sunny mornings where you can catch a glimpse of golden sunlight are my favorite. You can also consider yourself lucky if Finsbury Park’s tube workers are in a good mood, having all the entrances open. I find myself I rushing down the spiral staircase, quickly heading underground. So many of us are lost in music, being somewhere else. Magical days days, “There is currently a good service operating on all London Underground lines” as the scientific voice from the future is proclaiming. Waiting every day for the scientific voice to speak to her future colleague to introduce an Internet connection below the surface.
Don’t schedule meetings before 9am, you’re safe if you opt for half an hour later. As much as I love to get things done early in the day, I gave up trying to make sense of the mathematical effects thousands of people have on a couple of tube catacombs. Nevertheless, once back on the surface the walk to the office feels like heaven, breathing in the fresh air.
6pm day’s done, so let’s read about it in the Evening Standard. Street dancers perform to blasting hip hop in front of Oxford Circus. It’s a good day, the entry is not blocked due to those other thousand workers just like me finishing up their day. An old lady hands out Jesus loves You notes.
Down in the tube I pass some girls and as I pass I hear them throwing the word “Barbados” out into the blue. A few minutes and couple of turns later, I spot an advert on Barbados. Did the girls see the same or did they throw the keyword out without any context of the advert?
I carry a ready-to-serve pizza from Sainsbury under my fur coat, hoping the mozzarella is not sliding down as I have to hold her vertically. I can only hope that the guy behind me is not pushing me upon the tracks, my toes are millimeters from the yellow line and there is no way I can move backwards.
I’m tired, we all seem a bit tired and as I look down the inside of the Hammersmith & City line I can’t help but think how unknown we are to each other. You may think that you have a closer relationship to the ones standing a few inches from you, but the guy 2 carriages further belong into the same strangers’ category. The smacking of chewing gum in my ear, my eye on a man’s seemingly Freemasory ring and me holding on to my pizza under my arm.
I get off at Kings Cross, a construction worker in orange gear carries a plastic bag from Tesco. My mind gets lost in the sea of backpack brands in front of me, Deuter, Jeep and all the leather backpacks which are in fashion right now. Black is the colour of the masses as well, if you try to zoom out for a second, all you see is black. I’m almost at the Victoria line, but thousands of others seem to be as well. The entry is blocked, elderly people on crutches are leaning against the wall.
Suddenly the siren goes off. “Attention please due to a reported emergency all passengers have to leave the station.” Please not again Kings Cross, it takes forever to get out and all I want is to get home. I escape into a tube down south, figuring to head north again at the next station. There it is again, the image of a woman in a wedding dress, posing in the advert for some musical. My mind drifts away and I’m dreaming of better times ahead.
Finally, in the train up North. It’s not crowded, I can sit. It seems as if we are those who know how to live in London, namely outside with more breathing space. Somewhere behind me the music goes on, it sounds like it’s down in some backpack. So private, to hear the music of strangers. My thoughts drift away, my eyes stare into the distance, I’m falling into a state of day-dreaming. I notice how someone gazes over, wake up Finja, stop. A few more moments of clattering sounds from the tracks, we have arrived.
Pacing out of the exit, normally I smile at the driver as I pass by but today he showed no reaction. I follow the invisible line to the exit, trusting the crowed will move forward. So much intimacy. The beep of the machine, out we are. We are all done with our days, heading into different homes, starting our evening routine.