Usually I avoid our capital city, I always leave feeling like I’ve been taking speed or crack or some other sensory stimulant. It takes me a few days to recover cold turkey. The inevitable down after the high. London is a fraught city, the underground/overground tube network leaves me dizzy as I am blown and spun in the ether from all the tense fraught inhabitants. I feel like the leaves caught in the autumn blow.
London frames insignificance and loneliness around its people, like portraits in a gallery that only become interesting after years of extinction. I experience this the most here like nowhere else on the planet. The faces stare through me, unhappy, stressed, ambition-less beaten up faces, blue and purple from the cold, hungry, heartless streets. I smile deliberately at these cockney specimens, I want to offer them my heart, offer them something that will remove the chill from my bones. I am not comforted, nor am I bothered. I am not welcome, nor am I unwelcome. I am not accepted, nor am I unaccepted. I am not important, nor am I unimportant and so I squeeze myself somewhere into the middle of this indifferent urban belligerence, in the same way I squeeze myself into this overcrowded overground tube.
I sense the passive hostility, not because I am white, or black, or some other misunderstood ethnic minority, but simply because I am there breathing the same air, occupying space where they could be sitting or walking or texting or interacting with their chosen gadget. Ah! The sin of technology, legitimising social ignorance, desensitizing human beings from themselves and other human beings.
I am a nuisance when my general bemused confusion on the London underground causes the delay of somebody else’s journey by 0.0001 of a second. I hate you London. I hate you and I love you, but I hate you more than I love you and I only love you because I pity you and I only hate you because there are so many tube stops that I don’t understand.
I am wrong. I know I am wrong. I am down on my knees at the Holy Altar of wrong. London must have a heart, mustn’t it? I have simply been hanging out in all the wrong places, Kings Cross, St. Pancreas, Highbury and Islington, Angel…then I find a place, a real place and now I know how Paddington Bear must have felt when he found his marmalade sandwiches.
Hoxton; this IS where it began.
This IS the revolution.