We’ve simply swapped newspapers for phones. Eye contact was never there. It never had (or has) a place on whirring locomotives filled with desperate commuters trying not to fall into a piping hot well of small talk and inane conversations. Shuffling feet, iPlayer booming, podcasts streaming, face blushing from the sticky air of the 9-to-5 grind. Days of meetings, handshakes, coffee runs and espresso-coloured panics await us all. There are newspapers flirting with the grimy floors but when the train shudders to a stop and an announcement informs of a fatality, phones become second limbs. Messages spurting out from every medium and endless scrolling keeps the ennui at bay.
Pandemonium at Waterloo
At quarter to six.
Desperate, jumping commuters
Juggling briefcases, contents akimbo
Scurry like mice to the platform’s edge.
Scuttling, weak-kneed pensioners are thrown into a gruelling moshpit
Seats are treasures
For the fast and furious
Who tread on toes and elbow ribs and shove handbags
Echo in a room filled with people desperate to get home.
Warbling announcements tell of woeful delays
Heels click, mouths tut, throats yawn.
And then a dash to the train turns into a marathon
Survival of the fittest, else you’ll have to stand.
The horrors of rocking up at Vauxhall
Knowing there’s no space.
Pedestrians left looking lemon-faced, scorned
Like a cruel joke we ride on past.
Me seated, on my way to inhale some jambalaya,
Them standing, wondering when they’ll catch a break.
The same happens at Clapham Junction
And I’m just a little bit sympathetically smug.
We rolled into a Spanish town, filled with green crested hills and fluffy neighbourhoods
And I’m thinking about work and life and commitments
I’m pondering the flaky freelance mode de vie,
I’m wondering if it’ll stunt me socially
And make me boring and broke.
As the flesh coloured figures roll past the window panes
And the platforms dash in a blur of brushed aluminium
Thoughts ricochet off my synapses
And flood my mind with what ifs and how to’s
The world seems so scary
My path seems so bumpy
When I make good with my brain
That’s when it’ll all piece together.
At 18 I lusted after boys with big hair
And curly tendrils everywhere
Like Chase from Zoey 101
Or the late but great Jim Morrison.
We got dolled up and went to clubs
Were hit on by married men in pubs
Who wanted nothing more than to grope our bums
And pray we didn’t tell our mums.
At 25 I don’t kiss in clubs
Or humour middle-aged men in pubs
I’d much rather sit and have a natter
With fresh-faced friends who actually matter.
At 25 I don’t look around the room
Desperately searching for my potential groom
Instead I shuffle those size 6 feet
And shun the stares for a monstrous beat.
At 25 I’m paying London prices
But the student union booze-fest still entices
50p shots with £2 doubles
Always made for some serious trouble.
At 18 I puked against the Sobar wall
Was told to leave and stop being a fool
Took my weary frame off to bed
Woke up to a head as heavy as lead.
At 25 I guzzle water like no tomorrow
In a bid to minimise next day’s sorrow
Memories of my 20th still make me shiver
As I downed neon shots and messed up my liver.