Sunday, 3 October 2010

Travelling Town Crier

Sometimes, when Spring comes around, I feel a bit self-conscious and exposed once I’ve shed my winter coat. It seems to take a bit of adjustment in travelling to and from work, including the long walk to the station, the train journey into town, and then the walk to the office, in whatever outfit I’m wearing without the comfort of the cover of my coat.

And I don’t wear particularly remarkable outfits. They’re probably quite business-like and dull. It’s just a feeling I get.

But what if your daily work outfit was rather extraordinary, the type of thing that turns heads, and there was nowhere for you to change, so you just had to travel in that get-up? What if, for instance, you were the Town Crier? Perfectly respectable, certainly delightful in the right situation, but you might seem like a bit of a surprise in, say, a rail station.

That was the sight that startled me the other day at London Bridge Station as I tried to take the steps from the Charing Cross train platform to the Cannon Street platform in a single bound. At the top of one flight of stairs, I was dazzled by the unexpected site of a man standing there in an awful lot of bright red and gold, white stockings, pilgrim shoes and a big white feathery hat. The only thing he was missing was his bell, and he wasn’t calling out ‘Oyez, oyez!’ He was standing there silently, scrutinising the screens, waiting for information on his train to wherever needed a Town Crier that day.

I raced to catch my connection, it pulled away as I got there, and I just couldn’t resist going back up the stairs and getting out my camera (albeit the poor quality one that lives in my handbag). I didn’t want to be intrusive, plus I had to listen out for the next train, so I took a quick poor quality long-distance shot of him. But what I love is how, because we’re Londoners, no one else is batting an eyelid as he stands there amongst the other passengers. I love London for that bland acceptance of just about anything, and for the unexpected sights one meets every day. O yes, O yes.

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