I’ve always liked the way my reflection looks in the window of the tube as it rushes along the black tunnels. I like being indistinct, blurred, a shadow of a person looking back at me. I prefer this image than the all-seeing electric light, so easy to be critical under its harsh gaze. I like being the outsider looking in at the world. It makes me feel safe.
Why am I always the only one in the eye of a gale? Everyone else walks by sedately under their obedient umbrellas, their hair just so, their coats steady. I, meanwhile, battle my wilful umbrella from one side of the pavement to the other. It appears either determined to smack me in the face, turn inside out and rudely wave its underskirt in the street, or carry me off like Mary Poppins over the rooftops. ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ is all very well as long as I am not the kite. And my hair! Ye Gods – it wraps itself around my face like a scared child hanging onto its mothers legs while my coat acts as a rudderless sail, propelling me through the high street.
“I’ll just hop on the Northern line and come and meet you after work! I’m at Goodge Street -- Oh, I’m the wrong branch of the Northern line? -- Can I go to Bank and change? – Bugger – Hm, so go to Tottenham Court Road, change at St Paul’s and walk across the bridge? – Bit of a trek -- Ah, the Jubilee line? – Where from - Bond Street? – Sounds a plan! Bye!”
Tottenham Court Road should be called Tottenham Caught Road given the amount of times charity workers stopped me. Charities – please heed me. This tactic does not make people love you.
Seeing friends is like coming home to a house straight out of Disney. Lovely people – especially when they cry ‘bottle of red’ and plunge into the nearest pub, the slick pavement glistening with spilled yellow light as the door closes behind us.