Monday, September 22, 2008

Homeward Bound.

Tonight I have walked the surface of the world.
A couple , or so, pints after work. A good conversation. Lead to me returning home much later than anticipated or wanted. A swift traverse of the city, subterranean. The familiar rush not experienced as I am travelling much later than usual. Fifteen minutes after the hour and they finally announce the half past train. I am petulant only because they are following the usual pattern (announce the next train I want fifteen minutes before I am due to catch it). Petulant only because I chose to walk the surface for a change. Usually I am whisked at breakneck speeds under the surface of the city by various underground systems. Tonight I chose to leave the underground at Embankment and walk across the bridge to Waterloo.
And what a delight it was. Exiting the station on the north of the river, heading south, the first delicacy I am presented with is a half moon, a pastel peach, resplendent above St Paul's the skyline broken by the virulent blackness of the tower blocks counter pointed by the variegated jewellery of their lighted windows. I join various random people in stopping and just experiencing the beauty of the vista.
I am drawn on by the need to get home, else I could (would) still be standing there now. I promenade onwards exchanging fleeting looks with other passers by. My ear is delighted by a strong blues riff played by a very competent busker. I express my regret to him that I only have ten pence to give him. I wonder if he realises that I have actually donated all of my liquid assets to him, all the currency I will hold in the world, until next pay day.
Onwards still, I am assailed by the delicate scents of the Chinese restaurants south of the river, briefly opposed by the succulent relief of cooking beef from the burger bar underneath the bridge end.
Down the stairs and past the vast overspill of the various restaurant, that I still promise myself I will partake of eventually. The massed revellers spilling onto the pavement, in both their need to smoke and their need to socialise, and getting in my way briefly. The joyously camp exclamation of a restaurant patron as to his choice being this and how it was his particular favourite “how loverly!” The joy of a tiny boy playing “kick about” with a beach ball getting it stuck above the door of one of the little establishments. One final look back across the river, the lights ablaze, and onwards into the station. 
Onwards under the train tracks, avoiding the homeless beggars, no longer holding cash so of no use to them. Assailed by the discordant rhythm of an African musician, never sure if the unfamiliar rhythm is actually music or just discordant random noise.
Across the dual crossing and past the stairs where past weeks ago a seller of the “Big Issue” had attempted to smile me out, chastising me into buying a copy by smiling so much I had no choice. Unfortunately I am emotionally bullet proof to such tactics, I buy where I choose not where I am bullied. On into the station past the, now, disused “Eurostar” terminal. Boarded and disused. Finally to stand, amongst vastly less people than usual on the concourse awaiting the announcement of my train home.

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