There will always be a part of the mind that thinks being at Victoria station must mean returning to the slum lin the suburbs, or fleeing it.
Hours of unmoving bus in post match traffic through Fulham; the sparkle of Christmas clad shops and swerving tail lights. There was once a cold night in this station sat on a silver suitcase, talking to a homeless man called Wayne in another failed attempt to flee for a dream life by the sea. It had turned out to be a Hove hostel with no lightbulbs, bedding and cracked windows up six flights of prisonesque stairs. No holiday to be found.
I thought Wayne looked like my trapeze ex-teacher and wondered if he was an actor to convince me to go home. I gave him a hug for the rarity of kindness, only found in Londoners with nothing to do, and spent a week with a chest infection in Croydon’s unheated walls.
Station coffee shop: mouth cutting bread and constant squirts of bleach by bored staff on empty tables. The route was dotted with square windows revealing frantic chefs and empty tables of eateries like TV screens suspended amongst the black of night time bricks and roofs.
In Lush I hunt for old favourites to dissolve in the bath, oh the gratitude of finally owning a private bath for only my bones. Two days the bath in the slum had been full of caustic bleach
and still the black trails of shared tenancies clung.
A Chinese tourist almost breaks my arm to get some soap from the shelf and says sorry after not caring. I turn and ask the staff if they sell and products that will poison tourists and buy moisturiser for my damaged arm and some ball of blue stuff to fizz in water the colour of my lyra at home. It is called reach for the stars.
On leaving the store I am engulfed, unseen, in a tour party dressed in black. Their flow makes it impossible to diverge from their direction.
“Huddle tighter, you don’t want to get lost in London.”