One of the things I forgot about London is how you can feel like a rock star at any given moment… especially on the tube. Take just now for example. Just now I was on the escalator down from Leicester Square and I was listening to a particularly dramatic track on my iPod. After a glass of wine with friends, and being surrounded by all those theatre posters I was feeling all showbiz… you know when you get that “yeah, I totally look like a stage star” feeling? (Just say yes).
I found myself standing on the silver corregated step, miming along to the song while going down, down, down. But it wasn’t just a quiet mime-along, you know, with a silent moving of the lips? No, I’m talking a full on swishing of the hair, performing for myself in each reflective surface, made-for-the-movies kind of mime-along, whereby the escalator was the stage and the commuters were the extras in my musical spectacular, labeled ‘Girl takes tube after-dinner’. Oh yes.
As I left the escalator and entered the tunnel between the Piccadilly and Central lines I imagined everything was in slow motion except me, and that the cameras were in front and behind as I walked in my cowboy boots, still singing… probably quite loudly now. I was like this lost, ephemeral creature gliding through life; a misunderstood artiste in the midst of the hubbub and chaos. The cameras in my mind were loving it. I was making magic.
Standing on the platform is the best place for making your own music video too. You know that moment when the train’s pulling in and that breeze is whipping your hair and your jacket and your boot buckles? Yes, that moment, when you’re the calm in the storm, a sturdy ship sailing along in spite of the terrible tornado of life that insists on swirling everyone else and everything you know into a knot of uncertainty around you. That’s when you look cool… so cool.
So there I was, just a cool island in a crazy sea, solid as a cliff face as troubles washed over me. And the song just kept playing.
The train came in. It stopped and I stepped on board. I grabbed the pole, did a little twirl around it, not in a showy off way, you understand – I’m not a pole dancer – just in a way that made people look at me without realizing I was trying to make them look at me, you know? Because that’s what celebrities do. And I had a blazer on, and my new eye make up from Superdrug and I was looking cool… so cool.
I was miming in a different music video as the train pulled away and I found a seat. I looked at my reflection in the window opposite and imagined I was a ghost – a transparent, ethereal entity in lip gloss that shone in the glass and made my face stand out amongst the others. I say ‘imagined’ because actually it was minus the lip-gloss because most of it rubbed off on my hair when the wind blew in from the tunnel… which looked poetic at the time but forced me to eat my own ponytail.
And that tunnel wind also probably included rat shit particles, the collective sweat from a thousand commuters and the sperm from the pants of the hooker who left the house without a shower… who was now sitting next to me, smiling because I was singing, thinking we have something in common, which we probably do because she was in heels as high as the Oxo Tower and I was singing to no one but myself which makes us both a bit mental, but that’s London. And it’s dramatic.
And that’s what I think when I’m on the tube.