Monday, 14 April 2008

Day tripper

I had a doctor's appointment this morning, so I did my commute at 10.30 instead 0f 8.30. And I found out that in those two short hours, London is rinsed an entirely different colour.

On the train, instead of sitting opposite someone in a grey Next suit who is robotically applying concealer or reading A Thousand Splendid Suns or listening to Mika on an Ipod Mini (if the Enigma code was comprised of tinny headphone emissions, I would be the Bletchley Park poster girl), I sat opposite an elderly couple, both dapper in their his-and-hers Burberry overcoats. She maintained excellent posture while he read a small text book on Mechanics (maths, not cars) and laboured with paper and pencil over a lengthy equation that outran my 15-years-distant maths A-level. When they got off at Charing Cross, he carried her British Museum shopper for her as they walked out of the station arm-in-arm, beaming.

I walked through Trafalgar Square, where, on any other day, I think the world is spinning off its axis if I see a pigeon with a leg missing. Today Keith Chegwin was excitedly interviewing (does he interview in any other style?) a gaggle of thirtysomething women. Cheggars is very grey these days, but has a super-nice overcoat.

Then I walked past the church on Wardour Street which smells of piss at 8.30am. At 10.30 it does not smell of piss, and a group of beginners were receiving instruction in t'ai chi on the grass outside. 

For an hour I felt like I was in a film that makes living in London look full of warmth and wonder. But at no point was my path crossed by Hugh Grant in bermuda shorts, and soon I was at my desk with my usual cup of tea, watching the rain clouds gather, and normality crowding back in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should try the fancy Sainsbury's in Wilton Road at nine thirty in the morning. Staff and customers seem to be on first name terms with one another, and you get asked if you want help packing your bag (a bunch of bananas, three apples, a sandwich for lunch and pint of milk for tea in the office).

I feel slightly uncomfortable reading my Blackberry in the queue, while Laura (Customer Services Assistant) discusses the health of Brenda's cat in front of me - like some creature from an alien world of suits, mobiles, e-mails