Paddington

Written 15 Aug 10

Paddington station, Sunday morning. Buzzing with movement. After two quiet tubes, the din of the main concourse amazes me. Most people are here for pleasure, and yet the weekday commuters stick out like a sore thumb. The relaxation on their faces – such a contrast to what awaits them tomorrow. At the weekends, roles reverse – Londoners, so used to ignoring everything, become the most avid of people-watchers. The tourists, who drive us mad during the week with their slow, distracted presence in rush hour, are all a-panic, not sure where to find the Heathrow Express, even though the signs are omnipresent.

As always in a crowded place when I’m not in a rush, I find myself noticing people, relationships, all the time trying to “figure people out”. Today, I sat in the main concourse and watched. A Japanese girl in a beautiful apricot dress; I kept noticing her…. And her dress! A mismatched couple sitting in front of me, kissing and hugging. Couldn’t figure out their nationalities, but they’re near to me on the train; American. An Indian woman in her 30’s, jumper tossed across her shoulders, walked past me 7 times. Each time, she stood just too close to me, a tourist I assume – Londoners cherish any opportunity to put space between them and others.

A girl sitting beside me, waiting for her friends – I wonder where they were heading off to? Once on the train, I head straight for my reserved seat, having to fight my way through and around old people with wheelie suitcases. I’m in a four-seater. I don’t normally like them – I find them too open, and weirdly intimate. I always chose a two-seater, they’re much more cosy, more comfortable. But, as we pull out of Paddington, I realise that I’m all on my own, the luxury J

A young family are sitting in the seats opposite; a mum and her two daughters. The girls chat animatedly, giggling at their in-jokes. Their mum has a pile of sheet music in front of her – I wonder if she’s a singer, or a musician?

All these unanswered questions.