New maps, new directions... in this city i seem to spend more time travelling from one place to another than i do actually being anywhere. Before, in a quieter city, I travelled by car or on foot, and my journey was mapped by intersections, crossed and looped as roads are. Here the journeys are linear, tracked, and seem somehow automated: swallowed by the underground, processed up and down escalators, voided onto the train. With less to look at, i find myself focusing sharply on people, as a rule. There seems to be some unspoken law on the tube that people do not look at each other: they cocoon themselves in books or papers, stare up at the ads, look out of the window although there is nothing to see but blackness and blurred reflections. I like to break this rule. But this morning I was reading, (Bill Drummond's 45) and didn't look up until suddenly, there was a jerk, and the lights in the carriage went out.
We rolled along for a while, and then stopped dead, in absolute blackness.
I sat still and listened, watching the nothingness glowing green around me for probably no more than a minute or so, punctuated by shuffles and irritated mutters, and a few sardonic cheers. When the lights came up again, everyone was looking at each other, for once, and some were even smiling. I turned automatically and smiled at the person next to me, who I had vaguely clocked as female before sitting down to my book. She was worth looking at. She must have been six feet four, at least. Roman nose
, high cheekbones. A tired but friendly face. Long blonde wavy hair, soaked by the rain into wet snakes, with a bedraggled tinsel crown on top. Body glitter. Silvery purple eyeshadow, to match her handbag. A crumpled, short cerise dress, a too early-for-that-dress dress, highnecked and vamp
y. Pointy braless breasts, swayed gently by the loose rocking of the carriage. And pitch-black, bristly-looking facial stubble.
She grinned back at me and said in a bass voice: "Bloody awful weather, innit?"
And i agreed, and showed her my similarly soaked skirt, and she asked me about the Bill Drummond and we talked for a minute about the KLF
, and then off she got at Goodge Street, towering above the crowd, man-size feet clumping heavily in platform boots
off into the rainy morning.
She was replaced by a man in a suit. I went back to my book.