"Ghost town"


I went into London today - the first time since the lock down in March. I was shocked. 

I'd heard that London hadn't recovered its vim and vigour but the truth only hit me when I actually experienced a city without a purpose. 

I live in London, in one of its outer boroughs and I can get into town easily on the Underground. But until today I haven't. I can't go to the theatre, I can't take my wife into town to do business - her trade has completely shut down. I don't go to Oxford Street - to be honest I never did as it was overcrowded and a shit hole. 

Entering the tube station I put on my mask, walked slowly down the escalator and shouted internally when someone wasn't wearing a mask, overtook me on the stairs or stood on my shoulder. The train was empty just six people in my carriage all wearing masks, looking hopeless, resentful and miserable. 

Getting off at Googe Street I walked down Tottenham Court Road. The pavement is divided and you're encouraged to walk down the road on the outside of the pavement and up the road on the inside. Except there were workmen making that impossible and people doing the opposite. I passed shops and offices either closed or empty. One or two people were sitting outside cafes watching the few pedestrians walk by. 

I was meeting someone at a place which before the lock down was always buzzing. Today it was echoing, I was the only person in the coffee lounge and obeying Parkinson's Law the coffee took an age to appear. I was told that Fridays now was always a bad day. So many people worked from home that they wouldn't come in on a Friday as it would spoil their three day weekend. 

After my meeting I went to M&S in Tottenham Court Road. It was if the whole place was caught in a miasma. Customers looked aimless, as if they'd forgotten how to shop and the staff talked loudly of their dissatisfaction - who can blame them given the cuts M&S management are effecting in a matter of months. 

My journey home on the tube was, if anything, even more dismal. The adverts on the station walls looked pointless or else evoked, inappropriately, a war time spirit - except no one seemed to have any spirit left. The automaton announcer appeared unaware life had changed dramatically. 

I was relieved to get home. And then I realised we were all in a zombie state - not knowing what to do because no one knew what to do. Everything/one is operating on auto mode, going through the motions. It's as if we're waiting for something to happen be it a vaccine, normality, or a second wave. In the meantime we just exist. Some of us doing a darn sight better than others.


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