Trains of Thought
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IX. 19/03-26/03/17; groupuscules on a heath

How to steal a country: while the groupuscules struggle, entrenched power thrives. A man in a high-vis jacket, functional track-suit pants and general purpose shoes is reading the Economist while his laptop boots up. No time shall be wasted. The portrait caption would be:  Blue-collar & Economist, or perhaps more accurately, High-vis collar & Economist. Either way, I had never noticed the column by Bello before.

A man wearing a Dastar is standing behind the last seat in the row across the aisle. He is thumbing his phone. He wears a silver watch.

Strange shapes of modern architectural imagination from Blackfriars: slanted and rectangular stands behind inward-curved and squat, a rounded cylinder somewhere in between and the sharp and splintered tower overlooking the crowd of shapes from the other side, taller than them.

Standing only on the 7:30. A woman with a polka-dot top tucked into trousers is reading a textbook on business and management: 5.1 Management Buyouts…

The head of an older man with round glasses leans against the wall of the carriage between windows. He is wearing a bright red scarf and a jacket over a blazer over a tie. Perhaps the woman next to him is his wife. She is working on her laptop while her neighbour sleeps. She is also layered up, wearing a cream coat and a multi-coloured floral patterned scarf.

A woman just in front of me is writing emails on a tiny blackberry, scrolling with a roller-button. The display and design of the font look reassuringly simple, analogue even. It’s an email machine, no more and no less. Forget all the fancy features you don’t need. People become attached to blackberries in the same way writers become attached to vintage typewriters. A blackberry isn’t just for work. What sort of emails would one write?

“What were Charlotte’s plans last night? I did not know she was planning to sleep over anywhere and was a bit worried when she was not home when I got in. I tried her phone but no response. Her bedroom is fantastically untidy. Nearly took a photo. Perhaps it’s a case of it’s got to get worse before it gets better. Anyway at least a cubic metre of junk has been identified as surplus to reqts.”

Elaborate figures, formless effusions, bathetic autobiographical confidences exhibited amidst cheers. And their favourite stance, that of the austere and ancient Roman, a type most uncongenial to Rousseau’s onanistic ecstasies… Perhaps the spirit of Rousseau is in the air these days, like dandelion puffballs.


It is very satisfying to be outranked and yet on the dry side of a wet handshake.

A man in a blue jeans shirt holds his phone out in front of him. His eyes dart away from the phone and back. He wiggles his jaw. He chews his gum in staccato bursts. He puts down the black phone and picks up a white phone. Then he quickly picks up the black one again. The black colour of his hair looks artificial, it is too black and shiny and he’s at least 45. Glance out of the window, his pupils move from side to side with the landscape. Then, just as quickly, his attention is focused back on the liquid crystal digital landscape.

In the train from Finsbury Park a slim, small man sits next to his cello case which is blue overlaid with delicate gold-coloured, spidery veins. He too is absorbed by a phone.

Three horses and their riders gallop by. The riders look stiff; the groupuscule is escorted by a jeep. The other main factions are: dog-walkers, golfers and runners, citizens of the plains (divided into: parents of football playing children, tennis players, weekend-drinkers in the rugby club-house). At least two trains pass by in less time than it takes to finish the last third of the golf course. Both  announced their presence by sounding their horns. An open view over the landscape from  Five Hills. In personal space-time there are two views, superimposed: from the heath I look down on the passenger I will be tomorrow when I will be looking up at the person I will have been.

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