Starbucks. A beacon of modern England. It's humming with people sipping a days worth of calories in a cup. A double decaf soy caramel latte with cream or some other abomination. I like Starbucks. It's the McDonalds of my generation. I like lattes. It always has a clean loo. And wifi.
Across the road is boots the chemist, a stalwart blue and white presence on the high street. Next door is Marks and Spencer where anemic tomatoes lie in plastic coffins and sandwiches bustle for position in the wonderful land of 'convenience food.'
I'm on the high street in Chelmsford, Essex. Rather conveniently its name us just that "High Street." It's nice. A high street in England, like all the others. Why are they identical?
Anyway, this is not a ramble about a high street, or Chelmsford, which seems like a very nice town. Rather, this morning I took the Northern Line on the tube from Balham to Bank, at 8am. It was hideous! The type of journey where you breathe in when the doors close and take a collective breath when they open again. Wedged against someone's armpit your intrepid explorer took some time to contemplate London (and for the record, Mr Armpit had defiantly showered and deodorized very recently. Thanks, Mr Armpit). It's become second nature to walk quickly, Metro grasped in one hand, Oyster at the ready. I only ever stand on the right hand side of escalators (even if I'm not in London but somewhere more exotic like Birmingham). I mind the gap; I avoid eye contact.
It's not second nature yet, but it is familiar. It's also ghastly. A seething mass of humanity squashed together, traveling underground like rabbits (a nod to the season, I really mean rats).
I'm very glad Mr Armpit took a shower. I'm also glad Starbucks has wifi. I might just go find a sandwich...now where was Marks and Sparks?