Bumping into my face every day, I walk down towards Old Street station on a weekday morning. During rush hour you feel like you’re marching your life down the tube. Going eye to eye with a petit woman in a scarlet coat, I utter ‘excuse me, excuse me’ before heaving my way inside.
Come evening and walking home on foot, I like to claim some of my life back. With my blue sonic buns keeping my ears warm, I depart from nearby Palestra, a technicolour glass mountain in South London, and head north of the river.
Crossing over Blackfriars Bridge, I take my first steps towards the crystal empire, one that sparkles over demolished warehouses and future proofed roads. A military helicopter drones over the river and casts a security shadow over the city. I feel strangely enthralled by its presence. It’s hard, aggressive and brutally exciting.
Weaving past tourists in cagoule jackets, I navigate past St Paul’s Cathedral towards the Barbican Centre. Streams of scarfs and bobble hats march past me, splitting through a demolished hospital and cobbled lanes. The Georgian corner pubs are packed full of businessmen drinking pints of honey. I don’t want to ruin the historic splendour by stepping inside.
Cutting through the Barbican tunnel, I navigate over pelican crossings and storm past commuters with stringy headphones. A Tinder match alert vibrates in my pocket (Anita, 27, 3 miles away) as I stream another pop song. Like you I’ve commodified myself as entertainment.
Nonetheless I stay on course and arrive at Old Street roundabout. There’s a large inanimate object telling what ‘auld lang syne’ means in English. Commuters are pouring out of the station towards the glass pyramids on City Road. A maelstrom of human energy and piercing noise, I feel exhausted just watching the traffic.
I’ve lived here for five years now. I have nowhere else to go. The dark glitter pours over me as I walk my way home.