Tuesday 24th June
People, people everywhere, everywhere you look there are hordes of people. Was it not always so? To an extent, to a degree. But this year in particular it seems incredibly crowded. The tubes, even in the middle of the day, are crammed; finding a seat is a rarity, strap-hanging the norm. I still call it strap-hanging though those dark green leather loops disappeared years ago. At first they were replaced by plastic knobs on metal semi-flexible stalks which used to be slippery with hand-sweat and hanging on to those was only really accomplished by grasping the chain-metal shaft and twisting it to counter the effects of inertia. Now there are shiny chrome rails which women struggle to reach, most preferring to stand in the unseated doorway areas where bodies bump and squeeze into each other, embarrassed faces trying desperately not to look at each other.
But even my regular Pret-a-Manger is packed with not only the usual office-workers grabbing a coffee, or eating a croissant or porridge while reading and answering their e-mails; many already working, but also full of tourists seeking a breakfast, because most of the hotels charge extra now for a very poor breakfast. These tourists are not all Americans, as used to be the case, but a lot of Chinese or Far Easterners, and not a few Spanish looking ones, who may be from as far away as Brasil or Argentina – there is no way of telling these days. Everyone wears the standard uniform of T-shirt and trainers and jeans and that still ridiculous look of the back-to-front baseball cap.
There is no escaping the sheer volume of people that the city attracts. The place is thriving once more, and me – I can’t wait to get away. One more month to go unfortunately.