Monthly Archives: September 2006

Waiting for a train.

It’s a grey and hazy morning in the sharp-edged, angular new town of Ørestad (unlike Edinburgh’s New Town, this one is actually new). vanishing point

The train, as announced, is delayed by three minutes, something that seems impossible in this city of inhuman efficiency. I am hungry. I awoke early to the sound of some child I don’t know, making sounds I don’t know, presumably words I don’t know, in a language I don’t know. My dreams had been upside-down and jumbled and occasionally irksome – strange wilful dreams of swimming, sunshine and Sam and a door, high in the air, that led nowhere. Of things painted and painful. Sometimes when I sleep I pick at scabs.

An impossibly huge, rusted cargo train speeds by, with a noise of hissing cats and a cold metallic scream. Everywhere there are words I half-recognise without knowing, like vague shapes in the dark that would be familiar. Today I will go back home and tonight I will sleep in my own bed and tomorrow, if I’m woken by a sound, it will be the sound of one I love making noises I recognise, words I know the meaning of – insofar as I know the meaning of anything. And this is a good thing to remember. I switch on my MP3 player and cocoon myself; I listen to Nick Cave to cheer me up. I should reiterate that gloriously unlikely statement: I listen to Nick Cave to cheer me up. Because, again, I know his noises: a comforting anchorage in this alien nation.

The sun comes out, and here’s my train.

I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.

It is Friday, it is 5.30 and I emerge from the lane and out into the constant noisy hurrying brightness – sunny by day, at least in my memory, neon by night – of Elm Row. My sensible pencil skirt is tight at the hip, but too big at the waist and rides up irritatingly, my sensible bra chafes under my left arm and my feet in their awful sensible flat shoes have run up and down the office stairs too many times today, they ache and protest at the old repeated impact, and there’s more – but I am happy. I have freed my hair from its tight, prescribed chignon and I shake my head cheerfully, chew ruminatively on the glittery pink hairpin that I will not wear for a week like a toothpick, hope that perhaps it lends me the aspect of a time-travelled, gender-bent, browbeaten, Semitic, less beautiful Jimmy Dean. I love this loosening of the locks, this symbolic emancipation – I often hate my long hair but at these moments, at 5.15, 5.20, 5.30, whatever time I make my quotidian great escape, I need it; I need it as a window needs a curtain to show it day and hide it from night. I am happy. I am happy because it’s Friday, it’s 5.30, and because I am young and in love; because I found a silly little present to send to my amazing brother in Yorkshire in his new, second-year, flat and I think he’ll like it; because I have a beautiful flat to return to with a soft sofa and a Playstation 2 and, soon, a wonderful and sweetly sexy boy; because my friends are marvellous and make me smile; because I have a party to go to, new hairstyles to try and fail and cursingly give up on; because I’m leaving the dusty office behind for a whole week – the dust, the ‘straw’, the papers, the files and Shelob, the alarmingly huge spider that seems disconcertingly to have made its home beneath or behind the filing cabinet – all these I will not see again until it’s October and many of the leaves I’m half-gazing adoringly at and half-looking through will have browned or fallen. Then I’ll walk this way again, and I’ll be tired again, and I’ll tie up my hair and loosen it again, and I’ll work hard and I’ll be happy.