No moon, no people. Black starless sky all around sinking into fog sinking into wet, shiny streets on which my rubber-soled feet make no sound, silent invisible me, sliding past the city again. Down the hill and down the tunnels to the station. MORDEN via BANK 4 min. Sitting down next to a couple of Japanese kids, staring up at the empty ad spaces on the wall, rough squares of torn paper showing through many layers of removed ads. Thinking about Jorge Rodriguez de Gerada, the 'citizen artist' in New York who made an installation showing a child's face, painted in rust on an ad billboard, as if the face had been there and had been smothered by years and years of images perpetually burying it, branding it. Here I stare at the empty space, and imagine with what I would fill it. But I can't think of anything meaningful, only funny stuff...

The train arrives: wedge self and backpack into seat, start reading Invisible Cities again, disappear into fabulous realms of magical places. Then someone claps both hands together loudly, almost in my ear -
"Oi!" shouts he. "I know you're not supposed to talk on the train, BUT!"
and he pulls a bow, and introduces himself. He's a street artist. He announces that he's going to give us a poem, and does, at full volume over the rumble of the train. The shouting is somehow uncomfortable in the cramped space. A few weak grins appear in the crowded carriage (except for one girl at the end, who is smiling rapturously) while the face of the poet contorts with the effort of making himself heard, twisted stretched sinews bunching round his jaw. The poem is perfectly timed to last the two and a half minutes between this and the next station. It's about travelling by tube. It's not totally awful, but it's not good either. The train stops, some of the captive audience escape. The poet exhorts them not to, and explains that this is his job, this is what he does, entertains the people of London. The people of London smile weakly again as he whips out a suitcase, opens it on brightly coloured balls and proceeds to juggle. It's a good feat of balance, with the train moving. It gets a little applause. Then the hat goes round.
"Pay me what I'm worth," he yells. I dig in my pocket and find 500 yen, an Australian 50 cent piece and 7p. He gets the 7p. Everyone else in the row coughs up politely, and off he gets, to find another train.

Back home round the tea table the story comes out and I realise it reminds me of school concerts, trapped in a hard chair forced to listen politely to alarmingly tuneless clarinet solos and stumbling recitals, making stickman animations flipbook style on the corners of my hymnbook to ease the twitchy fidgety boredom. I love the concept of street art, I applaud the intention: but the reality of the train poet was uncomfortable and boring. I can't work out if it was because the poem was bad, or unsuited to the small space, or just because we were captive, and had not chosen to listen. Does it have to be good, to be art? Or is the intention, of random chaotic intervention, enough in itself?