The Eaton Diary of London 2001
always, I was back on the Tube. Every day is different in some way. You can't
come so close to so many people in such a short time, without noticing how
diverse are the people in your carriage each ride. The one thing that is always
the same, however, is the vacant 'Tube stare' we all develop. I guess we need to
appear bored, and to disguise the fact that we're secretly eyeing each other
over as we sit looking at each other on a easy ride, and as we stand, wedged
eyeball to eyeball, on a crowded ride. One mustn't show any inkling of
enjoyment, of course, and I guess, after the initial novelty, and perhaps the
occasional serendipitous contact that movies are made of, I have to admit, there
is in fact no real enjoyment to be had on a Tube.
But back to my
first ride today - only 2 stops, in an unusually empty carriage, - it was late
morning after all. What made this ride remarkable was a busker. We've seen a few
on the trains since being here. The first one last Saturday took us completely
by surprise, when he suddenly shouldered his guitar and began singing very
raucously to his captive audience. I was partly amused by the woeful rendition,
but mostly bewildered at the cheek of it, so I didn't feel obliged to dig deep
in my pocket when the mandatory well used paper cup came out of his.
Next day a
couple of young accordion players joined our carriage. I couldn't detect the
tune; in fact I think they were each attempting a different tune at the same
time. Fortunately buskers only stay in each carriage for one tune, collect their
donation, (or more accurately, their sympathy money,) and then move to the next
carriage at the next stop. I guess it's a good lurk if you're cut out for that
sort of thing, since it doesn't require an extensive repertoire.
Well, last night
it was another young accordionist who jumped on to favour us with an almost
unrecognizable snippet of Fur Elise. (I think he was busking to raise money for
corrective eye surgery, but I shouldn't be unkind.)
However, if that
wasn't punishment enough, the same lad got on my carriage again this morning,
playing the same tune, just as badly. Come to think of it, I don't think that
tune has ever been played particularly well on an accordion. As he passed by
with his crumpled paper cup and its very few coins, I wished I'd had the courage
to say, 'I'll give a donation if you'd learn another tune!' (And perhaps,
another instrument!) I think any comment would have been lost on him, however.
But good on him for doing something, and it helps makes life interesting.
at Hammersmith station, I jumped off that District Line train, and onto a
waiting Piccadilly Line train to continue my journey. I had to force myself
through the door, just as it was closing. We were packed like sardines in this
one. In the 5' square standing room only space by the door, were about 6 German
tourists with their suitcases, obviously just arrived at Heathrow. They chatted
away in German, while 2 inches to my right were a young couple, - the boy, an
Aussie and the girl, American, discussing a friend's pursuit of his 'spiritual'
self while lonely and homesick in London. Then 1 inch to my left was a lovely
middle class, middle-aged mother with what appeared to be her daughter. They
would not divulge their nationality by steadfastly adopting the 'Tube stare' and
not opening their mouths. They could have even been British! But behind them, in
this extremely crowded space, was another Aussie. I could tell he was an Aussie
because he was straddling his backpack and surfboard. Now, I ask you, who but an
Aussie would cram himself, his backpack and his surfboard onto a crowded tube
train at lunch time in Central London, in winter, and disembark at Piccadilly
What a circus!
© Copyright 2001 H Grant Eaton Contact: email@example.com