27 April, 2006

Rosemary, thyme

Battling through travellers swarming round the belly of Leicester Square station, I had a Proustian rush on hearing the sound of no less an instrument than a harp, delicately struggling to be heard amidst the mayhem and intrigue. Better still, it was playing that most textbook of busker tunes, Scarborough Fair.

The combination of instrument and tune was something of an enlightenment following another desperately long day and, more pertinently, the first dangerously warm weather of the season. Already the Underground is taking on the feel of a mild sauna (and the stench to match), meaning travel is beginning to become an acutely physical as well as a psychological discomfort. With the rise in temperature has also come a rise in the pursuit of self-grooming; more and more I'm noticing women carrying on in the carriages like they're at some kind of notional dressing tables, applying make-up, brushing hair, changing shoes and climbing in and out of frocks, and all in the least self-conscious manner imaginable.

Next to such immaculately turned out commuters I can't help but feel even more of a piece of grimy flotsam, washed up in their wake with my dignity trailing behind, ebbing further away at each pounding turn of the locomotive wheels. Suffice to say, from within such a moment of low appeal and even lower self-esteem, hearing the sound of a harp strumming such a timeless melody made for one of the highlights of the entire week.


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