Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Radio Free Europe

The dude swaggered along the upstairs deck of the bus. Securing a two-seater. he spread his legs wide as he sat down. He flicked his radio on and the sound of durrtty dancehall emitted from the tinny speakers.

The other passengers shuffled in their seats. Hadn’t he seen the sign that read “Don’t play music out loud, please use headphones”? Some twitched with annoyance. Some made tutting noises. Some decided to be brave and turned round in their seats to glare at the dude. Brief glares, but glares nonetheless.

The dude was oblivious as he nodded his head to the riddims. Although maybe he wasn’t quite so oblivious. Maybe he could tell full well that his music was pissing off the other passengers but he just didn’t care.

The girl smiled to herself. The British reserve amused her. She loved the anger within the people that refused to manifest itself into any form of action. No one was actually going to say something. They would just hope that their collective anger would form a dark cloud over the dude, causing him to realise his social faux-pas and turn his radio off.

But by the time the girl was about to disembark, there was no indication that this was going to happen. And the girl laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.

Friday, 27 March 2009

In search of the wrong season

Constable.Yes, Constable. That was what she thought as she sat on the train as it cantered through the countryside in the dappled sunlight. Except for the barbed wire fencing, it could have been one of his paintings. Well, that and the traffic speeding alongside the tracks, which was also destroying her view.

Strange. She had taken this journey a countless number of times but the thought had never crossed her mind before. Maybe it was due to the unsocialable hours in which she usually made the journey, those almost vampric periods of dawn and dusk. Maybe it was because the English weather was generally so goddamn awful that she never got to experience this beautiful, painterly light.

It somehow filled her with a longing for autumn, which was rather perverse given that part of the reason the land looked so lush was because spring had not long commenced. But that was typical of the girl – always longing for the things in the future while failing to appreciate those in the present…

Postcard from Waterloo Bridge

She walked over Waterloo Bridge. To her right, the National Theatre was engulfed with flames of crimson light and to her left, the London Eye glowed a malevolent red. It was like the Southbank was trying to pretend that nightfall hadn’t yet arrived, that it was still sunset. An eternal sunset that would last till dawn. And yet, it wasn’t a comforting light. It was an angry light. Like London was raging against the darkness – drawing battle lines against the black night sky.

The mood had filtered down to the people on the bridge. People marched across it, looking neither left nor right, yet subconsciously absorbing the colours of aggression. No one looked up.

This wasn’t right. This wasn’t what Waterloo Bridge was about. Usually the pedestrians never contemplated the origins of this bridge’s name. Why think about battles and wars when London’s beauty was spread out around them? This was a bridge for romantics. But tonight, the lovers had chosen to go elsewhere…

The girl with braces

She stood at the bus stop and tried not to stare at the couple who were desperately clutching at each other. The girl had train tracks and smiled longingly at the boy.

She immediately started wondering about the potential dangers of snogging someone with metal strapped to their teeth before remembering that she once had train tracks too. Top and bottom. Had she made out with boys back then? She couldn’t recall. Surely she must have done. She remembered when she was a teenager dispassionately kissing a boy behind a bus at a campsite on the west coast of Ireland. She must have had braces then – hell – she had them for most of her adolescence.

The couple moved off. She tried to look discretely to see where they were going. Her discretion was unnecessary. They were too wrapped up in one another to notice this random girl staring after them.

It was cold.

It was, in fact, very cold. She wished that the man she was in love with was with her. If his arms were wrapped around her, then she wouldn’t have been looking at other couples – at a girl with braces. But maybe it was ok to be alone. Maybe it makes you take stock of what’s important, makes you realise what you really want. Makes you aware of how much you long for that particular person.

Then the bus came thundering down the road and she bounded onto it. And she was happy because it was warm. And she was happy because, when she was waiting at the bus stop, she had decided that as soon as the bus arrived, that she would sit on the top deck and write down what was going through her mind while she had been waiting at the bus stop. She would write it for him.


There were delays on the central line again. Typical. Why were there always delays when she was in a hurry, or late for something?

Like sardines in a can, they sat and waited at Holborn station. Some people escaped from the train, but the girl stayed in her seat, ever hopeful that the train would move. After five minutes of sitting in expectation, there was an announcement from the driver asking all passengers to disembark as the tube was terminating at that station. As her feet touched the platform, a pre-recorded and very English voice came over the intercom: “London underground wishes to apologise for the disruption to your journey. This was due to a body being under another train.”

“Oh God”, she thought to herself. “How can I live in a city that has an automated message for when someone takes their life under a tube?”

The scary thing was, she had already been contaminated by the London disease because the next thing she thought was that she could have saved herself five minutes had she gotten off the tube when she first heard about the delay…