Wednesday, November 24, 2004


"Gloucester Road station," the announcer announced, "is closed due to fire-works. Customers are advised..."

Closed because of fire-works? What? Celebrations? At this time of the morning? Customers escorted off the trains, an amazing spectacular promised, the roof of the station rolled back, the sky as open as a basket, and then the mouths of the formal stuffy commuters gaping up in marvel, like captivated children, as the bang of gun-powder announces a million brilliant dots, each plucking a colour from the rainbow and placing it upon the sky?

Or, what? Closed because of a disaster? Some madman, seething at the indignity of it all or some crazy cause, crammed in at the end of a carriage; dammit, he mutters, dammit, I'll do it this time - and then the flick of a match, and a woosh, an explosion, and ... And clothes on fire. Faces on fire. Screams through flames. The tube screeching to a halt. And the slow drift of a smoke that is scented with burning human flesh.

"Once again," the voice repeated, "Gloucester Road is closed due to an earlier fire-alert. Customers..."

My mistake; my imagination. I left the tube to find the world as usual: the old buildings and the morning sky as grey as each other. Albeit with the occasional black stain, and dotted with the bold colours of the advertisements, flashing out such brilliant promises.