[ Journal 2015 // August ]
Meanwhile, in London …
11th – Night shift.
Leave on time, but the tube is packed – four trains pass – people crammed in on their journey into the city, no room for me. I manage to get on the fifth – a stinking sorry mess, hot and bothered, sweat dripping, a man can’t stop staring at me, I hate that, when someone stares, I have no patience for it – I keep my cool, tip the cap and look to the floor – earphones in playing a song so that I cannot hear anything nor the sudden blow as the opposite tube train passes, jolting the door to a thump as the air between each of the carriages break – I hate that. But my music drowns it out. I cannot bear the sudden appearance of these passing trains, under or over ground. It freaks me out. I always determine if I am in a safe place should the train be back-ended by another. I calculate how many people and how much metal behind me will get destroyed in order to offer safe cushion before reaching me. It is in that carefully calculated safety zone that I sit or stand. Mostly stand.
The door handle feels nice; part of my night shift routine is not the act of fire-walking, but my feet feel as though it has been.
I don’t mind serving people. I don’t mind doing anything that they ask of me, that’s my job. Some guests are downright the devil incarnate. Some aren’t. Those that treat me badly, often show guilt and tip extra, but the next night they’re back to fanning the fires of hell generally in my direction. You see, these are the lives of the super rich. And I’m not talking about the rich-rich – I’m talking Saudi-rich; where money simply no longer has meaning – paper currency has simply become an inconvenience in the process of getting what they want.
The American’s are generally nice, and those from New York are nice but it seems forced and fake. They’re a little guarded but soon come out of their shells. New Yorker’s tip. Those from the South of the U.S. of A. are especially friendly, more so than the New Yorker’s and there’s a sincerity about it that I find easy to connect with. Southerner’s don’t tip. So I make-do with a pleasant chat.
Most of the night I am on my feet. The pins begin around 11pm and end a couple of days later on days off. I can’t count the amount of pleasantries I have spoken; the ‘Sir’s’ and Madame’s, the Certainly’s and the Absolutely’s, the Not a Problem’s and the Right Away’s – by the time I am on the tube and at Victoria Station to get home, it has all but vanished and gone – replaced with curses and huffs, mostly huffs; dead eyes …. there’s not much left of me, save for making a mental note of a tree that I want to photograph that I see out the train window every morning. It’s the moment for me that my mind switches.
I have only one other thought save for sleep, and that’s to head out on my first day off and find the very people I push out into London every day on a cloud of smiles and joy and the promise of a great time … I will head out, camera in hand, and simply follow the trail.
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Decide to walk some of the Thames. My plan is to make it simple, not giving myself too much of a headache. I start at Westminster and end up at Tower Hill. The plan is simply to find tourists doing touristy things, which isn’t too hard. It’s nice to walk, to get what fresh air I think is available in the city. I spend a few hours doing this. It’s okay, but very quickly the same things happen with most of the tourists and I know that I am likely to get a lot of different people doing the same kind of shit. I tell myself to look harder, be more selective, but I don’t ever take such advice with me – I think it, but by the time I am actually somewhere, it’s all but forgotten. Maybe that’s a good thing – to head out without anything clouding my mind.
28th – I’d always wanted to visit Abbey Road Studio’s and the location of that famous Beatles album cover. I’d planned to go for over a year; had stalked the live camera of the location for months, paying close attention to what tourists and fans alike went there, and what they did. It was a good trip and because many of the visitors were so busy in their pursuit of getting a shot of themselves to closely resemble the album cover as possible, I was able to mix amongst them and get some shots – and whilst I am not completely happy with my results ( am I ever? ), I did get one … but I plan to return.
One of the main things that I have been trying to do with my ‘I LOVE LONDON’ project, is to visit as many of the tourist attractions as possible, preferably during the summer months – not only for the sunlight, which is a valuable commodity in Britain, but for the mass of activity and tourism that is presented. This is Part One of ‘I LOVE LONDON’, and whilst I am not completely happy with what I have managed to get this summer, I am content to have started and have one or two shots that I like. I am about to start ‘Part Two: Retail’, but I know that I will make best use of what comes around next summer in my pursuit of documenting tourism in London.
You can see how things are currently progressing with my ‘I LOVE LONDON’ project, here.