As my followers will know, A Point of View often triggers a response in me, and I find myself talking at the radio, and sometimes pen a response here.
Will Self’s most recent personal essay (I’ll put the link at the end), has inspired this one. I think it’s his best yet.
Like Self, I grew up on a diet of London’s Underground. But, I would like to point out that I am not from the East End. I am aware that true Londoners are considered from the East End, but I would like to make a case that all Londoners are true Londoners. Like Self we find ourselves cocooned in the womb-like embrace of London’s Underground, and like Self we give ourselves up to it. I would like to extend Self’s metaphor to all of London, even Greater London, to the womb that is London.
I grew up in Leafy Ham, Richmond Surrey. And, like Self, as a teenager I would commute into Fulham, and later to Bank, when working for a large Corporation. The commute on the Underground became part of the web of my life.
I wasn’t assaulted, but I did learn to keep my wits about me. Commuting in London teaches you to have a sixth sense, an extra awareness of everyone around you, whilst staring right through them. You learn to accept and embrace the environment, even when, like me, you might prefer your personal space. The privilege of this temporary confignment makes you accept London’s privilege of anonymity alongside this bizarre ritual. After all, it is part of the fabric of any Londoner’s existence.
I have moved away from London, but my heart is still there, and sometime my memory takes me back to some Underground Station (I used to meet a boyfriend somewhere near Goodge Street), a moment’s reverie and I am thrust once more into its slightly scary embrace. Here is the link to Will Self’s essay on legs:
Inspite of spending hours on the tube, I don’t have a single photograph, so you’ll have to use your imagination.