Before I started wandering the streets of London, I journeyed its undergrounds. Waterloo, Oxford Circus, Victoria and Baker Street. Brixton. Piccadilly and Paddington. Ribbons of different colours like veins under our skins, Thames the artery.
The first thing I saw were the bright white, shining ceramic wall tiles familiar from British detective TV-series – my imagination covered them with red splashes of blood.
Crowds and echoes of steps in the narrow, long and winding corridors. Then, a silence: no one has time for small talk. Suddenly a shudder of the approaching underground. A momentary standstill and shuffle of black overcoats on the platform. A few shrieks as the doors close, sizzle, screech and the tube is on its way to the next stop.
I Love London Tube, that organised and effective tube which first sucks the passengers in and then bursts them out like a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner. I love its sounds, the occasional fiddlers and saxophone players, the few odd mumblers, the ruffians and the city-dwellers. I love London tube; I love its rush hour and its quieter, quaint moments. As I sit in peace, breathing the stuffy air and whizzing through the black tunnels underneath London, the city’s heart beats mingle with the rail tracks.
Every second there are thousands of passengers underneath London, in its black tunnels, imposed to stuffy and sweaty air. At times, you sense a fellow passenger’s stare reflecting on the dark windowpane. An old couple admiring Stephen Fry: what a clever man, what a charming gentleman! Then a stop, few seconds of rush which vanishes as suddenly as it arrived. Like a wave crashing itself against a sea cliff and scattering its salty drops into the air, the passengers take different routes and disappear.