Fantasy boat

Posted on September 29, 2011


The sound is everywhere.  In every crevice, bouncing off the walls, the windows, the carriage floor, its roof.  Each body seems to vibrate with sound – held together by thin skin and clothing.  To guard against the buffeting I close my eyes, finding an indeterminate place, a waiting room of sorts.  When I dare open them, I see that almost all others are closed – lost in their private worlds.  The carriage could be anywhere.  Lit brightly but hurtling through the dark it could be in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or ferrying crew around the outer orbital of some futuristic space station.  But it is in London.  Under the ground.  Speeding around corners, up inclines, under water, through London’s clay.  When I think I can’t stand it any more, it bursts through the dark into startling sunlight.  The world changes instantly, going from a nowhere, subterranean place to somewhere – a destination, a train on a track only metres away from the station.

People begin to open their eyes and cautiously check out their fellow travellers.  Where did they each go on that strange journey?  Shopping lists, what to say to the boss, what the kids want for tea, or to the moon/the centre of the Earth/Siberia.

We reach the end and set off for the labyrinthine tunnels, once more held together by the trappings of a journey.  How in step we are.  All sheep-like?  Or simply unaware of how we have formed an unthinking, same-acting block.

How do we make the decision to render ourselves an unconscious herd in order to get on in the world?  Do we make a bargain each time, to put ourselves on ice, until it is time to revive at the end of the journey?  Like the fantasy of taking a long trip through space to unknown worlds, are we somewhere inviting this two-tone mode of being.  A zombie-like experience in order to reach somewhere special, unknown, different.  But is that what happens to most of us?  Is it different, new, unexplored, or, rather familiar, comforting, intimate.  Perhaps we each experience the familiar, the hibernating traveller, the vibrant explorer at different times during our lives.  Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, perhaps only rarely.

Perhaps we need all of these modes.  Can we be up all the time?  Can we hibernate all year round?  How many of us can live in our familiar caves all of the time without it turning into a prison.

Our internal reveries are just that, internal, but perhaps we could do with some more slippage between these lost worlds.Would I be the first to be irritated if someone tried to speak to me on the tube?  Absolutely!  Would it be salutary to be dragged from my ice cave at this moment.  Definitely!  Does anyone know any good jokes???

Posted in: Urban studies