It’s a Saturday night, Oxford Street is deserted – it’s too early for the partygoers to take the bus home, it’s merely filled with a couple of people who had to work late shifts.
The light of the new Tottenham Court Road station shines bright onto the empty and quite streets. I take a window seat and look out to the empty streets of London. I feel like a silent observer.
The streets in the city are chaotic, there are construction sites, diversions, roundabouts and one-way streets. It seems like a maze, open for everyone to see, but only for the skilled ones to conquer.
We drive past the British Museum (it’s not lit in the night, but I know it’s there), Holborn, around a corner and there it is: St. Paul’s Cathedral. By now it is too late for the lights to be turned on, but the light from the shop windows around dip it in cold light. The majestic building is crowned by the full moon, standing high above the dome and completing the magic picture. No one pays attention but I feel a little special to watch St. Paul’s asleep.
Onwards to the Bank of England. I can’t help but think of Mr. Banks, who passes by St. Paul’s every morning when he walks to work. ‘Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…’ I hum. The buildings along the street look old and full of memories of long passed, yet not less busy days.
But suddenly the scenery changes. The beautifully decorated brick houses make way for glass and steel, and we drive past the Gherkin as we approach Liverpool Street Station. On the right I can see Spittalfield’s Christ Church, next to the Ten Bells. It is lit brightly agains the dark sky, creating an eerie atmosphere. I remember having heard, that Jack the Ripper stalked the streets in this area.
We drive on towards Shoreditch. Girls in short dresses are waiting for the bus. For a moment, I swear, the constant drizzel turns into snowflakes dancing through the air and everyone looks around in awe.
The bus fills up now, as we drive past Bricklane and the windows steam up. I listen to the conversations of my fellow passengers in English, Italian, French and an Asian language I cannot place. The neon signs paint colourful patters onto the misty windows.
We are out of town now. The High Street is seamed with Halal Chicken Shops, 24 Hour Off Licenses and more and more residential houses. After a while the bus starts to empty. I can already see the big red silhouette of the Arcelor Mittal Orbit against the sky. Bow Flyover. Stratford. “This bus will now terminate here. Please take all your personal belongings with you when you leave the bus.”
As I get off the bus I can almost see Gonzo sitting at the window, waiting for me.
Buona notte and XX, Angie
Saturday, 31 January 2015