Central Line

This morning I took the 10.09 train to Charing Cross sans hot water bottles which have been pressed to my body for nearly two months. Pain and more pain have been my constant companions since October 5TH. I’ve seen more medical practitioners than an episode of Holby City – but looks like I’m finally out of the woods. Me, Mrs Crankology, has resorted to two lots of antibiotics, pain killers and prayer!
So this morning the old git dropped me off at the station. I then took the Bakerloo line for two stops, changed to the Central Line and arrived in White City five minutes late for a one line voice over.
Five minutes later I was out of BBC Media City heading back to the tube.
Had a phone conversation with the dawter who is going through it. Last week had her phone knicked from under her nose, then last night her coat, with her Oyster card and headphones, knicked from the same place. Horrible when your kid is in such turmoil.
The train arrived immediately. Shepherds Bush, Holland Park, by Notting Hill Gate, the carriage was full.
Immediately opposite me sat a black ‘dude’. Armani Jeans top. Black wooly hat, headphones, shiny Firefox trainers and a ‘Thinkpad’ which he pulled out of his backpack. Yes of course he was wearing trousers but I couldn’t identify them. Three seats away was a Chinese girl, wearing headphones. She pulled a little red sketch pad from her bag and a thin nibbed pen. She opened the pad and let the pages fall to a picture that she had drawn, using the pen she added lines.
A young couple got on. A small woman, wearing a headscarf and holding a cookie in a paper bag, her face shiny and radiant and her husband – I assumed – in Western dress, they sat down between the black dude and the artist. The smell of the giant biscuit filled the carriage. She took small bites and let the sugar melt in her mouth. I could taste the vanilla. Not one crumb left on her lovely lips.
By the time we got to Queensgate a huge black woman, wearing a headband, and carrying a big bag had filled two seats. Next to me sat a finely sculptured young woman with a nose ring and dangly earrings. She was picking grapes off a stalk out of her bag. I wondered whether I would have shared them out.
I don’t know what it was but I was overwhelmed by the group of us in the carriage. All jiggling along together towards Lancaser Gate. The sweet smell of cookies, the deliciousness of difference, and then my thoughts turned to the turmoil of the last two months, the pain that my kid is in, the nastiness of Donald Trump, the injustice of this Tory Government, their vile policies, and I started to cry. Not sobbing but the kind of silent tears that roll down your face. I was discreet. The absolute calm of the carriage, I sniffled a bit and I felt the hand of the girl next to me.
‘Are you okay?’ she said gently. And she stroked my shoulder then put her hand on my thigh and held me.
‘Are you sure?’ she said.
I was utterly moved.
‘I was just thinking.’ I said.
There was a pause I was going tell her about sharing the grapes. But I said again. ‘Just thinking.’
Marble Arch, Bond Street, I was getting out at the next stop. She was travelling to Bank.
‘Do you want to tell me what you were thinking?’ Her concern was touching.
For three stops we talked. She had been a video editor, worked on a film featuring a black man doing rope work in a big tent. She watched him, over and over as she edited his moves, and confided to her friend that thats what she really wanted to do. ‘Go for it.’ said her pal. So she gave up editing, aged 23, went to circus school, and now 6 years later she is a high wire performer, living her dream. For the next few days she’s working in Syon Park then back to Bristol where she lives. This beautiful young Sri Lankan woman had crossed all boundaries on a British tube train. Touching and talking, listening and sharing.
I left her smiling as I walked into the chaos of Oxford Circus – a far cry from her big top.
I told her that when I come back in my next life I’m going to be a free climber. Using my finger tips on the edge of mountains, swinging my body through the peaks, with no safety net.
She smiled as if it were all possible.
Some would say I have lived most of my life without a safety net, but I’ve never smelt the mountain air.

4 thoughts on “Central Line”

  1. Fascinating observations! Yes, each person to his/her own. So diverse yet each respectfully respecting one another. That’s the beauty of London. If only life would always be as peaceful and train journeys would always be uneventful, the world would be a better place to live in.
    Chin up Jeni. Many would envy the wonderful life you’ve had, inspiring people for many years over the airwaves and all your other many achievements. May you be blessed with many more happy, healthy and pain-free years.
    I hope you are keeping up your fitness regime. The magic for mind, body and soul!
    Season’s greetings and loads of love.

  2. Hope all is well as your absence on your blog has been sorely missed . Happy holidays to you and the Old Git … Have fun and a good rest .
    Hugs x

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