- An elderly woman in a headscarf pushing an empty baby buggy down the pavement, walking slowly, singing (or more like yodelling) loudly. About 10 feet behind, a man of the same age shuffled along.
- Instead of the usual Sport or ShortList handed out on the corner by the tube, today I looked twice to see that it was something different. This is a weekly magazine called Stylist given out every Wednesday morning. The first issue was published last week. It’s your typical woman’s read with fashion, beauty, diet, a smattering of events and staying in options, etc. Kept me occupied from Ealing Broadway to White City if that means anything.
- And speaking of free tube reading, you probably have noticed the Evening Standard has been free from this Monday.
- As usual on the tube, there is at least one amusing person to write about. Today, it was a man in a tan suit with a similar coloured gym bag who sat across from me. He held a copy of a tube map, looking back and forth between it and the one posted in the train. He muttered to himself, “Now, if I take this route I’ll end up here.” A few seconds later, “No, no… This looks like a better option. Lets see here.” And then, “I wonder where this goes. What is this place.” This went on for a few stops until he got off the train at North Acton.
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.