Sunday, May 29, 2005

Old Acquaintances

On summer breaks from uni, I used to meet friends up town and stagger home via Holborn tube. More often than not, a black guy was on the eastbound central line platform with his guitar entertaining the crowds. He always made me smile and I was always gave him some small amount. He grew to recognise me and would shout at me - something along the lines of the white girl with the curly hair. I left uni, moved out of home and live on the district line now. I’d forgotten all about him.

After watching Mark Thomas in North London, I approached the platform at Holborn, swung right into a seat and prepared to wait the three minutes until the next tube. And then I heard it. The first chords on a guitar. I almost stopped breathing. I couldn’t look round. And then that gravely voice. It was him after all these years. You can’t imagine the feelings of surprise and joy. I sat back and watched him perform. As the tube pulled in, off came the brown cap and out came the money. Not thinking he’d recognise me I threw in a pound and jumped onto the train. The cry of “hey, I remember you!” made me want to jump up and down with excitement. I wanted to hug everyone in sight.

By chance we ended up travelling through Holborn on Saturday night. We caught the 25 bus at Tottenham Court Road but 2 stops on we collided with the number 8 and both buses had to pile off. The buses go in the same general direction so waiting with 2 packed bus fulls for the next vehicules didn’t seem like a good idea. We headed in the direction of the nearest tube – Holborn. After a pit-stop involoving the loo and a Baileys we descended to the Central line.

A train was just departing and my man was sat down. Much to Colin’s embarrassment I plonked myelf down next to him and started chatting. No, he hadn’t been there all those years. He said I probably remembred he liked a bit of the juice. He’d had to get himself off it and had been to Portugal to sort himself out. Now he’s back and tee total. Then he strutted his stuff. The people nearest to us were dancing and clapping. It’s how it should be – I defy any member of the London Underground to tell him to sod off. I for one love him (and will be back).

1 comment:

Shep said...

Although not that near to Holborn, my favourite colourful London street-person is the huge black Rastafarian Big Issue seller who sited himself at the Covent Garden tube end of Neal Street (where I used to work). He'd just wander up and down loudly chanting "BiggieBiggieBiggieBiggie" like Tweaky in Buck Rodgers used to. Wonder if he's still there...

The other Big Issue seller further down nearer Covent Garden proper used to accost anyone who didn't a) pay attention to him and b) buy the Big Issue. "C'mon people - we're talking. About helping. The Homeless." he's shout, before swearing at another passer-by.