Traveling on the tube the other day the carriage jerked and splattered out of the station like a vomiting cat. A kind of tired forced thrust with the inevitable outcome of forwards movement.
As momentum returned to a slow but fluid movement my eyes were compelled to the left. A gap in the side wall of the tunnel revealed light, life; an activity in some parallel location.
I’ve read in the past of hidden platforms closed stations and other romantic mystiques of London’s subterranean world. With this knowledge I lodged the experience into the ‘recent’ sub-conscious folder of my brain…
Days later it became apparent my sub-conscious difference engine had not [as I thought] progressed from this sensory input.
So here I find myself on a train again. We glide into a tunnel darkness encloses. Then suddenly I’m surrounded by light again. We’re snaking through someones house!
To my left this time are rooms of a house with one wall missing. As a passenger on this train I’m the voyeur and the wall itself.
It’s like a scene from the Cosby Show; there’s cream carpets, cream walls and minimal chince. There’s a staircase made of dark wood leading upstairs.
It’s all there including people.
As I manage to chew and swallow this perplexing vision its gone again the darkness of the tunnel returns.
This time my conscious power of now does not relay with my hidden depths. This strong fantasia consumes my waking life.
Seemingly moments later I’m back with curly cute side kick Becky. We’re back in the tunnel. She looks at me eyes wide jaw dropped: “Oh my god!”. Excitement rapidly ensues…
Obviously this is not the end…
On assumption we pursue the entrance to the tunnel. We find ourselves on the streets of East London. A canal trees and green behind us; concrete a tunnel and an establishment in front.
A strange cross between a bacon bap van and a trendier European market stall. It looks and feels lie something belonging in Brick Lane. The people behind the counter fit the bill. Girls with shaven heads and piercings. Guys with skate, 80’s throw back colors, tight jeans, baggy jeans. Brands and non brands.
The ‘unique’ individual ‘stereo-type’; I’m choosing to call a ‘hoxitanite’.
I look around to Beck wondering whether to order something. The look on her face reminds me of our quest. She’s scanning up and down and around. I look back and realise we are right next to the train track on the edge of the tunnel entrance.
In an overlooked blur of conversation I discover the answer. The people are members of a Etopian art sect with a hippy traveler, squatter leaning.
The rising ‘cool’ of the property market in hoxton had pushed them to innovate in their search for a communal living, working space.
Becky’s ears light up! A distant drumming sound. “BONGOS”. She run’s behind the stall. “I’m off to find the drums”. I stumble across the conern of her self invite; I look around its clearly not a problem.
My previous informer moves in signal to me. As I’m lead behind the fascia of this stall I realise these guys actually live in the tunnel. My guide and educator continues.
The space forges into the tunnel as a series of small walk through rooms. People pass us all with a smile and a friendly “hello”, “how ya doing”… “alright” and such…
Finally we’re in the ‘room’ the double height cream middle class time warp with the staircase to the far left corner. I assume this is the heart of the house.
A Jamacian looking dude cruises through smoking a joint. I go to to talk to him as a dirty noisy black train hurtles past almost deafening us.
I ask him with excitement: “Does’nt it do your head in living in a tube tunnel?”. “You’d be surprised no; it’s kinda cool”. My mind digests this fresh notion. It responds: “How does the cream stay cream!?”
We walk back out of the tunnel and I thank my guide.
I look to the left as we emerge from the tunnel. To my surprise and delight there’s a massive outdoor swimming pool running parallel with the lines of trees, the canal, a row of Victorian terraces and the cliff like wall of the tunnel entrance.
The train goes through the crystal blue swimming pool and then seems to disappear into irrelevance.
The pool is full of mothers and their children. I look further to the end of it. High up floating in the sky is a train board. An exact lift of the old timetable from Waterloo station. The one’s that noisily rotate as they change. Black and white with spots of yellow; the sickening color of cancellation.
I lean against part of the tunnel wall that emerges for a moment outside. With my camera phone I eagerly try to frame the pool and the information board. Struggling to fit them both in my society afflicted analysis engine worries me. What will people think; I’m taking a photo with young children in. I lool around stop and move on…
Turning to my right I’m back in front of the stall; I wonder where Becky is.
“That girl you’re with, she’s left mate” my guide informs me once again. I anxiously look around for her. Seeing my concern he shouts: “Want me to pull a couple of scooters out; we’ll go look for her.” “Sure” I reply. My mind flits from concern to excitement of a blast on a scooter. As I watch him pull the scooters out from what looks like a beach rental hut I see a black bus. A crowd of people around it looking like it’s leaving.
I walk across and spot Becky and run shouting as she steps onto the bus. A frowning worry on her face. “I lost you” she states blamingly. “It’s ok I found you”. What a lot I have to show and tell you I think. I hug her and look down as she smiles happy and safe…