The planet of microcosmic signs or announcements - a language for underground commuters: keep left, beware wet floor, stand back train approaching, no exit, way out, stairs - 157 steps. Various stenches that I canít quite put my finger on from vague blurred places - these smells help me build a memory of the day. And each station has its own brand, a unique aroma. Victoria is dusty wetness. Oxford Circus a barren desert. Euston perfumed decay. Temple summery dew.
So many bodies so close together for so many hours forever. I see in their eyes emotions Iím not even sure - maybe wasnít sure - that they really exist. Maybe itís only a mixture of emotions possible down there; tiredness rammed into fear, anger rammed into pressure, rammed into short-sightedness. Whatever, I try to keep out of the direction of the mob, just in case I get trampled. I just try to follow them. Try to remain one of them instead. But away from this battleground; youíll be sure of more ghoul-infested cut-throughs - off the beaten track. Late at night, never at rush-hour, in the lesser-marked places, the sultry unmarked dungeons. Easy to see a colder face in them, a face I donít recognise but should. Only for a little second - just enough to get the idea of it, but not long enough to stay, or to get any real handle on. A weird version of a human, clinging to the wall, evaporating, into the shadows, not really there at all. But these make me complete - make me much more than the masses do. Just that split-second when I get a connection, something beyond the surface, a knowing stare, the looking glass into a gruesome, sordid place. I glide by them very fast and they by me, and itís over in a blink, yet I can always tell when they are not of this world - nearly there, nearly Ďone of the restí but not quite. Either early in the morning or really late at night on the deserted platforms, the noiseless corridors, the haunted entrance halls. Again itís the historic time-heavy noises from the past hundred years and it seems the true ghosts, the ones that refuse to go, have left their print as some form of shadowy, echo tinge.
Some of these noises canít be explained away - the hanging clatter thatís come through the walls of a disused corridor, a pitter-patter in a humanless passage, clanging on some hidden pipes. If I could live my life down here in these purpose-built metal streets I would: itís so big but when you get up close you realise itís so small as well, close enough to touch. But youíd probably get your hands burnt. Occasionally I see things I usually miss when Iím in a rush, see things with eyes trained on the brilliance of this phenomenal mini-planet. The passers-by in the reflector mirror. New walkways and out-of-bounds zones. The split-second reaction of an annoyed briefcase-clutching man whose path is temporarily blocked by a confused tourist. I adore these tiny things, the littlest things, webbed in the rules that are concretised below ground. And outside as well - so many faces, all of the time. Like bees. Everybody has been the same for years, the faces chugging along in the various types of light. The truest marker of time.
© Copyright 2016 John Maher