Heading into town yesterday on tube strike day I felt smug as I managed to get on a bus that wasn’t packed to the rafters like others that had sped by without stopping. There was a sense of adventure and resourcefulness that is palpable in London when this happens.
As the bus drove on we passed crowds of people hiking down Edgeware road at a determined pace. Trainers were on, rucksacks mounted on backs – some people were even running.
I watched as our bus pulled up and two girls jumped on. ‘This’ll get us to the end of the road, then I don’t know what we’ll do’. Suddenly they sprang up –‘Wait did you see that one – that one takes us closer – quick run!’
I got off at Marble Arch hoping to catch a bus all the way down Oxford Street. As they trundled past me with faces pressed to the glass, I realised there was no chance and surrendered to a longish walk.
A man charged past, on the phone, his pink shirt sticking to his back with sweat: ‘Hi Darling. This was so stupid of me. I don’t know why I did it – honestly! I’m coming up to Oxford Circus now’.
Two tourists stood in the melee that was the pavement on Oxford Street – laughing in an exhilarated fashion: ‘Here take a picture of me! Take a picture of this!’
Boris bikes passed with helmetless riders.
A man held up his iphone – checking he was going in the right direction.
Outside Top Shop I passed Seasick Steve – an engaging act on the festival circuit this summer, having a leisurely chat with two fans; checked shirt, faded jeans and gnarly beard all intact. I looked back, smiling, as a man beside me remarked: ‘He’s with the guy who took the photo’.
I decided to treat myself to a cuppa after my hike. The queues in the cafes were enormous; everyone with the same idea. But, it struck me that while being inconvenienced is a pain, the tube strike does seem to bring a sense of openness to London town – and that’s refreshing.