Friday, November 2, 2007

The light at the end of the tunnel

I woke up this morning with a nostalgic feeing about London. I left my hotel and took the short walk to Blackfriars Bridge, looking to reacquaint myself with the wide open spaces of the river.

I missed my morning run on a Routemaster 159 from the edgy goings on around Brixton Hill down to cultural explosion on the bustling High Street culminating on the great majesty that is the crossing of the Thames at Westminster Bridge, with Parliament to the left and the London Eye to the right, but my view today down the river past the Oxo Tower to the South Bank and across to the Tate Modern was an inspiring start to the day.

The one niggling point was the need to travel underground again to get under the junction to the banks of the river, beneath the sunshine and the bustling streets. London is best above ground, but the subterranean way of life: through underpasses and tunnels, down escalators and passageways to tense, often silent and overcrowded trains drains the soul. Above ground Londoners are vibrant, different and unique in the world, but down below we are all reduced to the lowest common denominator, differentiated only by the experienced (Oyster Card ready, purposeful striding between ticket barriers and platforms) and the novice (rucksacks scattering commuters while fumbling for a map and a paper ticket).

My nostalgia lasted until I boarded the plane to Edinburgh. Surely for £150 a seat we could get enough space for my entire row to sit upright at once? Would the pioneers of aviation really view plastic cutlery and soggy sandwiches as progress?

My day started so well in the sunshine lit streets of the city, but ended up crushed under the weight of an overpacked overnight case and a cramped economy class seat. I'm now in a taxi home to Debbie and dinner with her Mum. I just couldn't face two buses now.