Going round the yellow-brick bend


Several years ago, in a writing class, we were assigned to write about ‘Yellow’. I decided to journey the Circle Line and record my thoughts & observations as I passed through 37 underground stations.

Embankment: Eastbound. 3 pm. Last carriage near the dirt-cream concertina connector. Please mind The Gap between the train and the platform. Temple: The Gap Line and what? Blackfriars: Don’t step over the yellow line lest you fall into the gap. All lettering on signs, whether warnings or instructions, are yellow. Mansion House: Two chatterboxes wearing church-going hats. A stout man chews in the way a cow chews cud. Items trapped in the doors causes delay. Cannon Street: Reflection in the dark, gritty windows: I’ve been beheaded. Monument: Obstructing the doors can be dangerous. Tower Hill: Support poles and railings are yellow. Kids go free. Aldgate: Oranges and Lemons said the bells of St Clements. Was that about child sacrifice or public executions? Liverpool Street: The lull of the carriage…rock-a-bye. Always has that effect. A sweaty man in a too-tight grey suit and green tie. I hope he doesn’t sit next to me. Moorgate: Two standing girls giggle in a kind of English that has no fixed abode. Barbican: Unbearable! I’m breathing him in! Farringdon: A bit of daylight. The chatterboxes get off. (The chewer got off at Liverpool Street.) A brunette with perfect pink toenails peeping out of strappy sandals. Sweaty man stares at her cleavage. Kings Cross St Pancreas: Sweaty man gets off. Euston Square: It would be easy to get off now, forget all about the yellow. Great Portland Street: The rear doors will not open at the next station. Please use the other doors. Baker Street: Swarm of bees buzzing in my head instead of thoughts…dozing off…Edgware Road: So much yellow on the map. Paddington: This is not a true circle. It’s the straight bit, the gap in my journey, which I have to mind. A little girl in a yellow dress is crying. Poor Alice in Underland. Royal Oak: Graffiti on wall shouts Go home wanker. Who is the wanker that has to go home? Westbourne Park: Yellow nose of train nudges into station. Ladbrooke Grove: Loud-mouthed man and female companion. What a lot of tattoos they have between them. Her skin looks jaundiced. He doesn’t want to go to Hammersmith, apparently. Latimer Road: It’s hard to think outside his voice. A hive of people on the platform. Wood Lane: What a great way to travel, if you’re a mole. Shepherds Bush Market: Loud man says to girl: ‘How dare you fucking tell me what to do’. I look away. Gold Hawk Road: Loud-mouthed man and ear-bashed companion get off still squabbling. A banana skin on the platform right now could prove fatal. Hammersmith: A stretch of the legs. Yellow is not my favourite colour!

(Here I have to return along the straight bit of the Circle Line to Paddington. Too much repetition to worth noting anything.)

Paddington: Last carriage again. Being held at a red signal, awaiting the yellow. ‘East of the sun and west of the moon.’ Love that song, never remember all the words. Got nothing to do with yellow. Bayswater: Concentrate: in yellow: 16:20:10. In yellow: Please keep your belongings and clothing clear of the doors. Notting Hill Gate: A man with one of those Marie Curie daffodils in his green lapel. Sheer coincidence. High Street Kensington: ‘yellow and green must never be seen/but green and yellow is truly mellow,’ a motherism I can’t get out of my head. Gloucester Road: I could say my favourite fruit is pineapple, but it wouldn’t be true. South Kensington: Mobile phones are like comfy blankets. How people cling to them. Sloane Square: Applying make-up would be easier than trying to write on here. Victoria: The chairs are new, a deep blue background with purples, greens and yellows shaped into oblongs. St James’s Park: Ode to lying in the grass and counting buttercups. Westminster: It’s taken one hour 45 minutes. That’s one hour 45 minutes I’ll never get back. Embankment: I’m definitely not a Dorothy. I’m just that wanker that needs to get home before I go round the yellow brick bend.

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