Saturday, 9 October 2010

London Diary 32

I see her, sipping her coffee at the bus stop, every night. Usually at 3am. Old, withered, come rain or shine (ha, as summer is now gone it should really read rain or dry) she wears the same coat, blue in colour, with a cardigan underneath to keep in the warmth.

Who is she? What else has she seen? Why does she choose to live her nights at a bus shelter instead of at home? Who else notices her, lone, unloved, unwanted at the bus stop at 3am?

There she sits at the bus shelter, watching the many Night Buses go by on their way into town, carrying in the multitude of low wage workers. Or watching the buses coming out of town, bringing the revelers back home from a night filled with drinks and laughter.

Who is she? What else has she seen? Why does she choose to live her nights at a bus shelter instead of at home. Who else notices her, lone, unloved, unwanted at the bus stop at 3am. Did she once travel into town, a worker, lowly paid, unappreciated and a cog in the system. Knowing that every single day of drudge was not her choice, but a dictation of rules and requirements in order to survive?

Or was she a party animal, a socialite, the centre of attention, the most important person in the room, loved and wanted. Knowing that her destiny was in her hands, for her to shape as she could please?

Who knows, as maybe I am the only person who notices her, other than the shop clerk of the 24 hour mart who sells her the coffee in a polystyrene cup. Night after night, the same freeze dried beans, having started their journey on a farm somewhere in East Africa, ends up here at a London Bus Stop, sipped by an old lady who looks at the world pass her by. Or has she passed the world by and is no longer bothered by the rush? Comfortable with her cup of coffee she sees the madness that surrounds her. The fighting youths, the wailing sirens, the kissing couples, the road sweepers or the cocaine fueled bankers in sports cars. She no longer partakes in the madness of the city. Or is she a lonely soul, looking over her cup of coffee with bitterness and despair at the life that passed her by. Not knowing when her time will end, but safe in the knowledge that it will be sooner rather than later.

One day, as I drive past, I will see the same old bus shelter, but it will be empty, save for an empty polystyrene cup on the ground beside it...

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