It’s the one day when it is worth getting up early to go to Oxford Street. Because Central London will be deserted. You’ll stand in the middle of the Oxford and Regent Street crossing and if you’ve not been good, you may have to step aside for the odd taxi.
It isn’t, however, as empty as it used to be. Has it become a thing to post a selfie of oneself on London’s most congested road totally empty? Maybe it’s a fad, maybe you won’t have to get up before sunrise in the future anymore.
The horns hoot three times. Half an hour until curfew, bus is stuck on Holloway Road.
‘Not even five thirty yet,’ someone complains. Rest of the passengers pretends they didn’t hear, let alone agree. Cameras everywhere and rumour has it they’ve installed microphone for every row. Do or say something wrong, they’ll get you.
The horns hoot five times. Fifteen minutes and the bus is still stuck in traffic. People exchange uneasy looks. Everyone knows what’s coming.
‘Emergency diversion. This bus now terminates at the Arsenal Curfew Shelter.’
Collective sigh of relief – we’re not spending the night at Holloway Prison.
I have this compulsion to check my appearance. In bus doors. Car mirrors. Shop windows. Even puddles. The latter mainly to catch a glimpse of how passers-by perceive me. I don’t stop or anything. That’d be weird.
I’ve slowed down, though, for puddles. Difficult to pin it down, I’d have to go beyond a quick glance. And I don’t want to attract that kind of attention. I check in the first place to make sure I don’t stand out. But the more I look, the more I’m convinced puddles don’t show my reflection.
They show me from another dimension.
I’m behind on responding to comments. My apologies, I’ll get round to it tomorrow (I hope).
You wouldn’t know you’re in the middle of the city down here. It’s quiet, unless you throw pieces of bread into the canal. Then ducks and coots race each other for the prize. Fight each other for it. Maybe fighting is normal? But ducks and coots are two different species. People shouldn’t fight. They’re the same species, they should look out for each other.
Then why is everybody fighting? Kids at school. Passengers on the bus. Customers in shops. Footballers on the pitch. No escaping it.
Time to go home. Where Mum and Dad will be fighting. No escaping it.