Tube map tapestry

This is why I keep a diary. It would help if I looked at the bloody thing.

I went to Barnet by mistake. Bugger. Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright in Barnet. I used to go up and stay in Chris’s room, and see the Big Chief. He would have musical jazz parties that would spill out onto the sunny streets. I miss those days. It’s always sunny when I’m in Barnet.

But I’m supposed to be in South Kensington. Barnet happens tomorrow and it’s a long way from where I should be. Bother. One day I’ll sort myself out (or not.) At least it means it’ll be sunny tomorrow too. Doesn’t it?

Now I’m cruising back on the endless Northern line with all the commuters. The tube announcer just said “Hyugyüt” in her cultivated ’50s accent. Highgate – where Harrie used to live.  Here to South Ken in half an hour? Hopefully I’ll get there before anyone misses me. My habit of being early is bearing fruit. This is more or less exactly why I cultivated the habit in the first place. It allows me to be an airhead but with fewer consequences and more time to look at the pretty things.

Right now though it’s just a load of sleepy people passively consuming fear through their free newspaper. “Toxic Arctic”. We are all going to die. Buy more stuff. It’s expensive as all hell, this little underground train, but it really does haul a lot of people around. And the culture of silence means you want something to read. Controlling the free paper of choice gives huge thought power. So often those headlines instigate a fear reaction, and it makes you grab the paper. But the paper’s not the spear, it’s the boar

I’m stuck in a tunnel outside Mornington Crescent now. Humphrey Lyttleton eat your heart out. He’s right. You always end up here one way or another. Fifteen minutes to go.

We are moving again. I’m sure you’re all thrilled. Euston already, where I was last night and had a bit too much wine. Then Warren Street, where I rehearsed Hamlet in the Croatian Embassy. Then Goodge Street. The RADA stop. Mum’s hospital. Tottenham Court Road. My old agent…

When I moved to London all these stations sounded strange, distant, unknown. Now the tube map is a complicated loom of associations. There are little bits of me sewn into the fabric of this town. Leicester Square. Brian’s work. Marie. Red paint stains on the wooden floor. Running in the streets in a nightie. I’m bolting onto the Piccadilly Line but I’m going to be late. 6 minutes left. The tube announcer promotes paranoia.”If you see anything suspicious, report it to the station staff. See it, say it, sorted.” We are in danger. Trust no-one.

Three minutes to the Rayner’s Lane train. I’m going to be late, but “There is a good service on all underground lines.” Aren’t we doing well!?

These prerecorded announcements are in constant chatter like a dystopian sci-fi film from the ’80s. We hear them but don’t hear them. Drink water. Stand behind the yellow line. There might be bombs. We are efficient. Serve the computer. The computer is your friend

Green Park. Where we did that treasure hunt. Three more stops. Three minutes late already. Bum.

We stitch ourselves into places. Every station has a story for me. Hyde Park Corner. Where I should’ve got in the taxi with her after Nick’s wedding even though she was a lawyer. Knightsbridge. That night shoot at Harrods. Better get ready now. South Ken is coming. Max’s work. My work too today. If I’m not too late… And … … run!


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

One thought on “Tube map tapestry”

  1. A great one ! yes we are all stitched into cities or maps around where we live and have lived. The urgency in this writing reflecting London-ness had me reading double speed


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