The thing is, I told myself as I trundled along, I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Perhaps Clarissa was correct in suggesting a guide. But I had already left her home, pushing my way through the traffic of London again, fighting against the eager crowd that wanted to find themselves in the most popular places of tourism here. They didn’t know my troubles; the way that tourism was not part of my legacy, and that the life of a stop-keeper might not be as glamorous as they would presume. If only I would have the courage to stand on a pedestal and tell the world…
Having asked a nearby policeman where the nearest tube station was (I was still at a loss about the differences between Regent’s and Oxford Street), I pushed on to the one he directed me to: Oxford Circus.
Once again, the long journey taunted me. The dank and the dark were only too happy to oblige my ill-feelings about the tube as I became resolute that I would never take a train anywhere again, the wheezing iron beast.
I remembered the same, sick feelings of travelling alone amongst the bodies of others; it was familiar territory, but yet it still shocked me, fresh strangers coming and going at every step.
When I finally seized a seat, I perched on its edge, afraid of the body that were bustling around me, shuffling in their selves, each noise made resonating with frustrating repetitiveness. I didn’t want to inspect the place I had put myself, too, annoyed at the marks on its outer casing. And then there was the occasionally roar as another animal galloped past. I hated trains.
When, finally, I saw the familiar peaks of the London sky-line of brick and metal, my fingers ceased their twitching, and those hands that had clutched at the poles of the tube switched their attentions to the train-doors eagerly.
Having hurried out of the underground system of tube-trains, I stopped short of the exit of the main station, finding my way through the maze of little electronic gates so much more easily than before. How, I had no clue, but, just maybe, the tube was being fair to me and this station had been ingrained into my mind as I had shuffled through it the previous afternoon. My feet inched closer to the wet pavements outside, but something had stopped me surprised, something had caught my eye, just little but not the sort of thing I would have seen if I had been out in the country before. My world was changing!
Spots of rain were chequered across the windows, intricate Morse code blobs of dots and dashes line after line. For some reason, some scientific notion that I knew little of, the rain had become so ordered in its majesty. Here lay the one sense of pattern in the rushing forms of London city.
But the rain was only a smattering and it quickly finished, leaving only the paving that glittered as a final reflection of the sun.
“Weird,” I whispered to myself, tracing the symbols.
Had I not been so fixated by the rhythm of the weather, I might well have taken notice of the figure reflected in the panel beside the door. Dark hair, dark glasses, a mobile- and an eerie notion of repetition.