Optimism only gets you so far. The grit of reality has a way of eroding away positive thoughts until it leaves gullies where gloom settles like water. London can be vibrant, exciting, stimulating and cool in unimaginable ways. It can also be hard.
I seem particularly susceptible to the Tubegerm as I like to call it. The Tubegerm is like an alien creature. It can take many forms, seen and unseen, and can attack when you least expect it. The Tubegerm burrows into your soul when you stand wedged on the Northern Line platform at Bank feeling the crowds pouring down the stairs behind you push your toes closer than you’d like towards the edge of the platform and squeaking mice running before the train below. It is that tiny thought which wonders if it would just be a whole lot less exhausting to stop resisting the momentum behind you.
The Tubegerm is a literal germ. It is the coughs and sneezes of millions of people breathing into the heat and humidity of the underground and which you cannot escape as you must breathe, must hold on where they have held. It is the germs you carry with you to work when the Tubegerm has burrowed into your immune system and taken root.
The Tubegerm is the ugly side of human nature which leaves the pregnant woman standing, a thin trickle of sweat dripping onto her ‘baby on board’ badge as she struggles to unbotton her straining coat. It’s the blind person knocked against a wall, stick in hand, by hurried commuters who do not see despite their sight. Its the elderly man with a walking stick and arthritis staggering against a sudden shift in speed as he stands while fitter, younger, stronger people sprawl.
The Tubegerm can infect us all and I am afraid of it wearing me down until I forget about hedgerows and sunsets over hayfields and raindrops beating gently on windscreens.