The rain makes no sound. The whistle you hear at 4:30 am is not the train but the blackbird. The incessant buzz is not the bee but the traffic. Never ceases. Never ceases to wonder. The city is wide awake. We better go back to bed.
The hours pass. The river holds a mirror up to the sky. Now clear as a slate. White lines chalked by the sails and the seagulls. Come evening it will turn blue. Above the clouds like newly unfurled petals of roses will blush softly pink. The sun will slowly sink behind the Gherkin. But now the clouds gather conspiratorially. The wind tugging at the long black coats. The long black umbrellas marking time.
On Central Line memories distort geography*. In Bethnal Green memory does not abide. Mile End Park mourns the loss. Newspapers report a body was fished out from Regent’s Canal. But that was days ago. Not the tragedy that the robin recalls.
There is no good café on George Street**. Perhaps this isn’t that George Street. Perhaps this isn’t that city. Perhaps it’s the definition of good that is at fault. The server at Prêt a Manger is from France. A mere coincidence? He asks you the name of the little girl in Slumdog Millionaire. You oblige. His face is the perfect representation of ‘unbridled happiness.’ Often described as the sun shining though dark clouds. In the ‘real’ world the sun is occupied otherwise.
This is the Tower of Babel. This is the sea of humanity. This is Oxford Circus. This is why people travel: to queue outside Primark to buy a T-shirt worth 100 pennies. Bringing us to the pressing question: How many pennies do we need to have pennies enough? We shall ponder tonight as we dine, with the bankers looking down from the windows of their glass and steel towers.
It is late afternoon. Babies and dogs are walking along the marina. I am birdwatching with my eyes closed***. Four hours later the river will turn blue.
* Finding India in Unexpected Places by Sujata Bhat, World Poems on the Underground.
**For A Good Café on George Street by The Rosie Taylor Project a lovely song click here.
***Birdwatching with your eyes closed by Simon Barnes. More on that shortly.