Mixing it up a bit
London started the day with fog all around. I began my day in my dressing gown, staring in wonder at the fog from the decking at the top of our garden, a cup of coffee in my hand.
Magical stuff. Eery.
The picture was complete. A creepy looking shot accompanied by the relentless painful beauty of Bach’s music.
Bach’s St John Passion is – predictably and perhaps a little unimaginatively now – Easter to me.
Easter is springtime. Springtime is tulips. And as I mentioned earlier in the week on a Flickr posting, springtime is a moment in the year I really love. A moment for contemplation. A time to reconnect with friends and family. Clean work-surfaces. Roast pork, crackling and apple sauce. All this without the stresses and strains normally associated with the annual holidays – Christmas.
The fog I stared at first thing this morning and then later walked to the train station through felt like a curtain about to lift. The final act before a breathtaking reveal. Where there’s fog or mist, the sun’s rays are somewhere hidden behind trying terribly hard to burn through. This will lift. And when it’s does, the effect will something brilliant.
The blue skies did emerge later on in the morning. By the time I reached White City, in fact, the fog had lifted. The sun shone through a thin white veil. Something hung heavy in the air.
It was only later in the day I reckoned on what it was. The still mild air temperature was the final clue I’d been looking for. There on the station platform at Shepherds Bush Overground, the picture was – finally – complete. The haze, the blue sky and the sweet air all combined in a glorious sensory overture to summer.
Passengers waiting on the platform edge have been – like me – taken a bit by surprise by the weather. There are no woolly jumpers. No gloves. No duffel coats.
This might as well be summer. Let’s steal a moment and think like it is summer. Kick back. Smile. Relax for a while.
Half an hour later and this platform will be heaving. Everyone will be moaning quietly to themselves about the infrequency of the Overground train service.
But for now, we’re basking. It’s the end of the day and very nearly the end of the week. Freedom beckons.
I can tell I’m swept away by this. Excitement beckons. From the promise implicit in the scene from my backdoor and by the rare treat at the tail-end of the day. The evenings are getting lighter. The journey home need not be the usual battle on the Central Line. Against this rare weather-induced treat, today could be an opportunity to go the whole hog and mix things up a bit more. I’m crazy like that .. sort of.
So instead of taking tube, I take the Overground from Shepherds Bush across the river to Clapham Junction, where I change to head back towards the centre of the capital to London Waterloo, where I’ll change again to south east to Hither Green.
At first it feels like a titty journey. Full of unusual changes (unusual, but not actually any more changes of transport than if I went on the tube across town). I’m also going against my instinct. Sensible people would think that the most direct route would be to go through town. The thinking behind the Underground is that the crowded places – the centre – demand transport underground or (if you’re made of tougher stuff) the buses. This journey instead takes me south of the river, then north east only to go south east. Such journeys on maps look silly, perhaps even nonsensical.
It seems obvious to say, but the benefits far outweighs the risk of ridicule when pursuing an unorthodox methodology. At least they do in this situation.
Unexpected circumstances – like a welcome change in the weather and the promises it brings – should be accompanied by equally unusual actions. Sometimes even the most modest of changes to one’s routine can bring about a release of tension or – even better – a fresh outlook.
Clapham Junction has a different rhythm to it. The walkways are wider. There’s natural light flooding the passenger bridge. The sweet air pervades. People look different. They walk differently. There isn’t the usual dash for the usual exits. It’s not the harrowing affair London Bridge can be at times. For a moment, I feel like a tourist. I want to stop a while.
I see London Waterloo station from an entirely different approach than I do normally. Once again, the glass roof allows for natural light to cascade down onto the platform. It’s a cavernous space too. A proper old-school train station. Big. Grand. Exciting. Yes, the walk across the concourse might straight into the direction of the oncoming onslaught of commuter traffic, but the consequences of this unusual journey have already taken hold.
A journey entirely overground. One which doesn’t take me that much longer than my normal commute. One in part avoiding the usual crowds which in turn makes for an entirely calmer experience when getting across town. It’s puts me in an unusually chipper mood.
Bring on the morning and the chance to do it again in reverse.
Maybe my daffodills will be out tomorrow.