27 May, 2006

Going metropolitan

Sitting next to me on the train back from work yesterday were two well-spoken young ladies in floral dresses comparing how much each of them had spent during the day.

One was brandishing a notebook, into which she'd diligently entered each of her "transactions", as she called them, in order to ascertain the sum of money she'd disposed of so far. The notebook in question wasn't your ordinary spiral-bound or stapled white-lined affair, but a rusty-hued recycled pamphlet decorated with polkadots and splashes of luminous pink. Both were stuffing their faces with Oriental snacks from Marks and Spencer. Both conducted their conversation at the top of their already over-enunciated voices.

I note this here because it's surely a spectacle that is unique to London. I know full well you would never see such a sight in Liverpool. Two people of any description merrily comparing how much they'd spent over the past few hours is something you'd be hard pressed to countenance anywhere in that city.

But here in the capital the pursuit of wealth, and the shameless, vocal celebration thereof, seems just as common and provokes just as little interest as the chattering of a homeless man's teeth as he lurks in the rain waiting for another ten pence, or the inarticulate yet supremely loud protestations of a East European desperate for you to take one of their flyers for a Cut Price Tanning Salon.

It's all sound and fury, but forever confined - and confined forever - to the place where the streets are supposedly paved with gold.


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