5. Slapdash

Old woman, theatre performer.
Harmonica player outside Baron's Court Station

There’s a woman standing outside Baron’s Court tube station playing, or rather attempting to play, a harmonica. I’ve seen her here before, she hangs out at Baron’s Court Housing project where they do free meals. She wears a wig and theatrical makeup. I thought at first she was a transvestite, like my neighbour Steve who goes to the Coop in stilettos and a mini skirt, but apparently not.

My other slightly more sober neighbour tells me she is an old theatre performer, been out of work for years though, a drinker with mental health issues. “A right care in the community that one” say’s my neighbour “a real special“.

The story goes that she was having medical treatment for a congenital brain disease during the privatisation of the NHS. She could’t afford to continue the treatment with the specialist hospital so ended up going through the Charity Care system. The hack-up job the church hospital did was well meaning but naive and slapdash, her memory was blown to pieces.

This is all just rumours you understand, but she is quite mad!

Still, she stands there at Barons Court station feather bower and all, screaching out lunacy and blowing down that poor old harmonica. The Station manager occasionally moves her along but she’s back the next day. On Sundays she is particularly enthusiastic, her words seem to take on a hell fearing vigor as she denounes the Sunday shopping  public.

Next – 6. Dread

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1. What YOU need!

2. Abel

3. Underlondon

4. Eyes in the Machines

4. Eyes in the Machines

Abel held his breath, closed his eyes, and counted backwards from 10. When he opened them the machines were still looking at him. Big, metalic, shinning creatures, he wasn’t sure where their eyes were, but they definitely had eyes.

Was it his boss spying on him? New company policy to monitor staff ? Or the government tracking him? All seemed very possible, yet there was something else, something in the machines themselves, that knew him.

At first he’d thought he was delusional but now he knew it was more real than anything else he’d ever experienced. Not only were they looking at him from the outside, they were inside him as well, they could see his thoughts, they could taste the ingredients of his being.

He was coming to the end of his 40 hour shift. It hadn’t been so bad, though he’d had to take another one of those Spletzer-Martins. They were meant to keep you going for 40 hours no problem, but he always found he was flagging after 35. Not that it was tiring work, just rotating those huge machines, but failing to do it properly could muck up the whole network which would be catastrophic. Yes, better that he sneak an extra bottle of Spletzer-Martins from the office pharmacy now and then, than risk the whole network going down.

Elsie had told me he’d been feeling rough. To be honest I didn’t  care. I didn’t know Abel that well, but I was developing a certain curiosity for the dramas surrounding him.
He is a friend of my friend Elsie. I chatted to him via Facebook and met at gigs occassionally. He’d always seemed quite pleasant and cheerful until that time I saw him in Clapton. It was late at night in a small venue off the main road, he looked so tied and old then, and nervous. He’d seemed a very confident almost arrogant man before, but now he was uncertain, shaky in his speech, and with the guilty look of a man whose just rummaged through your underwear.

Elsie told me he was worried about debt, working long shifts to pay it off. It is a relief that one can do that now, what with these new tablets, just keep working and working till you pay off all your debts, as long as you resist the temptation to get new ones come pay day.

Next – 5. Slapdash

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3.Underlondon

2. Abel

1. What YOU Need!

 

3. Underlondon

Sketch of a rat on the back of an Individual Learning Plan

Please Note –  I cannot be held responsible for what may happen to you should you follow my instructions.

At Baron’s Court Station, after you’ve been past the barriers, take the left staircase down to the west bound platform. At the bottom of the staircase quickly swing yourself off the platform and on to the track.

You’ll find a small pebbled area running along side the track only just wide enough for you to walk  along. Walk east, the opposite direction to the trains, towards Earls Court. About 50 metres from the station the tracks separate, the District line stays above ground and the Piccadilly  goes underground. Follow the Piccadilly track. You’ll find, once your eyes become accustomed to the dark, that its quite easy to walk along here, sticking closely to the walls of the tunnel for safety.

As you feel your way along you’ll relise that there are lots of openings and gaps in the tunnel wall. About 12 metres into the tunnel you’ll find an opening slighly larger than the others and that if you run your fingers along you won’t come to the wall, but to more and more open space. You can crouch down and squeeze yourself into it, but I wouldn’t advise it yet, not till you know more about its methods and madness.

This is a connecting passage, there are many of them and they connect between the different tunnel networks sprawling under London. So, as a traveller of Underlondon you can go from lost rivers and sewers, to jewel deposit chambers, from nuclear hideouts to the passageway running from the Harrods shop to its warehouse, the old Post Office underground railway to escape passages from the palace. You can in fact get almost anywhere in London via these passages, going unnoticed by the masses above you.

One might think that with todays fear of terrorism and the monitoring of almost everything these passages would be shut off or atleast heavily guarded, but no. Dark, damp and rat ridden they are protected by, as Douglas Adams named it,  an SEP field (somebody else’s problem), making them impossible to detect by anyone who isn’t deliberatly trying to find them.

And who in there right mind would want to find them? For here be monsters!

Next – 4. Eyes in the Machines

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2. Abel

1. What YOU need!

2. Abel

He knows there is blood covering his wrists and the palms of his hands, but something tells him if he keeps his fingers crossed and doesn’t look at it it won’t be real.

So far his theory seems correct as no one else has noticed. Most people are ignoring him.

He looks like a tramp, he is a tramp, and no one wants to look closely at a tramp. The tube station is carrying on it’s normal 5 o’clock rush and the only person who is curious is the newspaper vendor.

Abel just has to get to the station exit turn the corner and then he can slump down in the graveyard for a while. Hopefully.

Baron’s Court is such a nice polite London station, a place you go to watch tennis.

Next – 3. Underlondon

Previous – 1. What YOU Need!