Outside Shepherds Bush Station 29.08.16 – 8.00am

With its hard-edged glass/steel finish and gaping entrance, the station look a little like an alien mothership, landing to gobble up and spew out large quantities of humans. It breathes people, inhaling and exhaling them erratically. At this time of the morning, the flow of people sometimes builds to frenetic almost dramatic climaxes, with people moving between each other in effortlessly choreographed flows. The ease with which this is almost unanimously accomplished betrays no sign of each passenger’s clumsy, fitful early attempts to master human motion. They have perfected the fine art of walking. At other times, however, the action dies away, creating a platform for more human events to be noticed – in this case laughs between station staff and a man lighting a cigarette.

A pigeon flies through the entrance, strutting around looking for food. It has the same purposeful air as the passengers and is just as emotionally neutral. For the humans, and perhaps for the pigeon, the neutrality belies the complexity of their life experience, and the sense of direction they appear to have obfuscates the reality that many don’t enjoy this sense of direction where it counts. But at least they can feel they have it here, on their morning commute. At least here they can move confidently, with a little swagger even, and convey to others and themselves that they know where they are going, even if their final arrival leaves them cold. Modern travel is often sleek, intelligent and awe inspiring. It invests our journeys with a sense of robustness and confidence we often appropriate, and fools us into thinking that our journeys are worth making. It offers a variety of ways of getting from A to B, but more importantly it offers a mythical sense of meaningful personal direction. Sometimes this might engender self-deception and denial. But sometimes it might be just what we need to start the day.


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