It was the glint of the little compact mirror that caught my eye. I looked over at the other side of the tube train coach and saw where it came from. A man was sitting across the aisle from me, plucking his eye brows, carefully and methodically getting rid of every offending hair that spoilt the perfect line of his brows. Next to him was a pair of beautiful long-fingered hands with dark aubergine finger nails, fluttering like two magnificently exotic moths in the harsh light of the train. When the brow plucking man sat back I could see who the hands belonged to; a perfect clone of Cher -- high cheek bones, perfectly kohled eyes, shapely siliconed lips, long straight black hair framing the lovely line-less face - clearly he had taken a photograph of Cher to the plastic surgeon and commissioned him to copy this photograph to the tiniest detail. He was wearing a pillar box red coat - as if to offset the black hair and the white hands, and I thought to myself " trust a transvestite to get it so perfect. Since women's liberation, no woman ever seems to give that much attention to detail anymore..."
I got off the train at Green Park to link up with the Victoria line (I had forgotten how many stairs there are in the London Underground! Up, down, up, down, up, down -- never-ending stairs!)and found myself being drawn to the music like a magnet -- an old guy (well - perhaps it is the result of an eventful life, but he did look a lot older than me!) on a clarinet playing the sweetest sounds. Oh! How I love the musicians in the London underground! But on to the next train, and this time, seated opposite me, a small, wiry man, probably in his forties, in a purple velvet jacket and a top hat that looked like it had been nicked from the film set of a Dickens novel, so high I am sure it doubled the man's height.(oh how I wished I had my camera with me!)
From there to the glitz and the glamour of Kensington High Street - that is, the glitz and the glamour inside the store windows but sadly not outside. Not inspired by anything I saw, off to Piccadilly, the National Geographic shop where everything inspired me. What a great place to spend much more time than I had - and definitely worth another trip back to London as soon as I can...
Later I walked through Leicester Square, just to feel the lively heart beat of the place again. It did not disappoint. The smell of one pound pizza slices, the colourful bill boards of all the latest movies, the jugglers and mime artists and theatre ticket touts -- nothing has changed and it felt good.
Then, down to the Tate Modern -- what is a day's visit to London without having popped into this most amazing of amazing centres of wonderment? -- for a glorious Gaugin fix and the silent echo of the polished gallery floors and high glass ceilings and light and light and light bathing it all in an aura of exquisiteness, back along the river and the hub-bub of the South Bank and across the bridge for a last glimpse of the Houses of Parliament - always such a majestic view and so, so beautiful, and the London Eye on the other side - good to see it is still there - surely they won't take it down now, not after all this time and since it had become so part of the London scene?, and the traffic on the river, the ever changing skyline...Then, before catching the train back, a last Mojito at The Cuban, my favourite little spot where the torn posters on the walls and the rickety blue chairs now seem to look like that from age, not because that is what the interior designer had put there.
Ah! And then I made the mistake of picking up the free copy of the Evening Standard (they used to only hand out free copies of the early edition on a Thursday -- now also on a Monday - or is it every night?) to read on the train. I say a mistake, because reading the news in the UK is enough to make anyone want to be sick. Apart from the back-biting and fist-fighting going on on the X-Factor scene (who cares???) and Rooney that says 'he quit'(are those toys I see flying out of the cot?) and Osborne about to announce the austerity cuts just as the new EU taxes are appearing on the horizon (wake up world, we are in dire economic doldrums, in case you had not noticed), and 'elf an safety' deciding that century old cobblestones are dangerous and should be lifted (shu' up! muy bruvver Keef says i-url make youse stree's buggy and wheel-chair frien'ly) (and horror of all horrors -- even the newspapers are starting to spell the way everyone now speaks, I ki' you no'!)) and William and Kate announcing their wedding plans (he also says he intends to shake up the royal family a bit...as long as he continues to pronounce the last letters of his words, it's fine by me!) and the current inquest into the terrible 7/7 and one survivor telling how the victims died in agony while the paramedics were standing outside waiting to allowed to go in and save people -- again 'elf an safety' having taken over from the 'Blitz' heroism of yesteryear...
And then I get to page 11 and there, in colour, two photographs of a young man in a hoodie kicking and stamping and swinging a puppy by its leash and I almost hurl. I force myself to read the article. It is about a person who took these photographs of this monster on 1 October in Knee Hill Park in Woolwich, south-east London and then passed the photos on to the SPCA -- who are now putting the film footage out there on u-tube and warn that it is "extremely shocking and deemed to distressing for under-18's", and appealing to the public to come forward if they know who this young an is -- a reward of £20,000 on his head.
I choked back my nausea and closed the newspaper -- not able to read any more. And then the anger took over.
What kind of society is this, Great Britain, where you have someone ready with his phone to take film footage and photo's of a teenager kicking a puppy like a football, swinging a puppy through the air on his leash, stamping all his weight on a puppy cowering on the ground, but not stop the young man from doing these monstrous acts?
What kind of society do we live in where you will not step forward and stop abuse when you see it? Where you can film a torturer but not dare stop him from continuing?
I ask the question and despair, because I know the answer will be the same as the answer given to the young 7/7 survivor who asked what happened to the spirit of the people who went out during the blitz and helped victims while the bombing was still raging around them.
'Elf an safety? Non-involvement? Fear? Apathy?...
It is good to be home tonight...
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