8am. 52 bus: Kensal Rise to Notting Hill
London is in a heat wave. The air is muggy and thick and unpleasant. People are sticky. The bus was sweltering. With every movement, a waft of body odour. Crowded, shoulder to shoulder on the lower deck.
For half hour, I tried to block out the type of noise that drills through any possibility of concentration – or sanity, for that matter: A small baby with a shrill, consistent, inconsolable scream; an old man continually tapping his cane on the metal pole, a steady ting, ting, ting, ting; bass beats of early-morning trance leaking through cheap headphones; a child’s endless monologue of gibberish enhanced by the negligent parent’s failure to respond.
Thank god it’s Friday.
Now, a tall caramel macchiato, open windows. Across the car park, translucent curtains flap seductively like the bottom of a white night dress waving in a slight breeze. Instead of babies and bass, there is the dull sound of traffic on Notting Hill Gate, the low bangs of distant construction – shouts, pounding, saws. There is, in near proximity to my open window, the high, melodic chirp of birds on a wire.