A break in the commute

A view from the tubeOn my journey to work there is a point where the train line rises above the roofs of the houses and I can see all the way across the city. It is fleeting so I have to avoid falling into my commuter cocoon before I get there so I don’t miss it. Each morning I dash past the first waiting carriage of the tube train as it waits to leave. I gamble on missing the train to look not just for a seat but one facing the right way, east towards the city. I perch between fellow passengers with their heads in their freebie papers or scrolling through their phones. The female computer voice announces the second stop, reminding me not to succumb to reverie and I start to watch.

The train track is built on a level ridge above the sloping houses, built themselves on a sloping road. Gradually the roofs fall away to below the height of the train and the sky begins to open. Then, suddenly, the city appears beyond the carriage windows. The London skyline is framed by the rounded edges of the tube window, a land portal for the daily voyagers. In miniature, Battersea Power Station, the London Eye and the in-progress Vauxhall Tower blend into a flat plane. To the right, the Shard reaches skyward, disappearing into the clouds. This is what I see on a clear, sunny day, though really every day is different. Sometimes the Shard pokes clear of the mist; at others it is completely lost in the sea.

Regardless, my eyes relax as they lift to take in my daily snapshot, the photograph stored in my memory to ease the landscape of people that crowds in as we near the city. The nearer we get, the narrower the view. I smile at my brief vista, at the glimpse of human endeavour writ large. On most mornings, if I glance at my neighbours I will find myself alone in my view. Sometimes, though, I see someone doing as I do, as we journey on towards our destination.

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