Day 39 of 80 — Tube

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 39: Tube

6.30 am. Four tubes have come and gone already, full of hundreds of compressed commuters. They’re almost falling out every time the doors open. Upon the fifth try, I finally manage to make my way in. Boarding a London tube in the morning is an art. A subtle mix of firmness (“no, you won’t cut the queue”) and politeness (“but have a lovely day all the same”). It’s all in the eyes: no time to talk.

I look around me. I like observing people; it’s important to me. For a moment, I try to imagine their lives. Sometimes, my eyes meet someone else’s —a fleeting bond between two dreamers in a world of mobile phones. Today, it’s a man in a bobble hat who smiles at me.

Victoria : enough daydreaming. I walk swiftly through the labyrinth of corridors that lead out of the station, then make my way towards the Coach Station. On the way, I realise the pompom is there too. Are we going to the same place? No, he turns and walks in the train station. I keep going but before I know it, he reappears! He merely went through the station. We’re walking in parallel now, each of us on one side of the busy street. Has he noticed?

Finally, I get to my destination. I look across the street one last time. He’s still there. He looks at me and waves.

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