Tangled yarns from London's passers-through

010 : Tim Wood at (Ant)Eros\’ Statue, Piccadilly Circus
Born in 1976 in suburban London. Tim Wood currently works as a teacher. Why London? It’s where I was born. He digs the following London bits: Drinking and laughter as an antidote to grey skies and rain, it’s always changing and always exciting and Ken Livingstone. He is, however, a bit miffed by getting home after 1am and the lack of pavement cafés. For more info on Tim Wood you should send an email.

image: jimieye

“I pressed the side of my hand to my forehead, pointlessly.”

A low sun cast the shadow of Eros[1] onto the pavement towards Shaftesbury Avenue. I sat under it on the steps, cold and sniffing. Looking up, I wondered if this was such a good choice. I turned my gaze across to the north side of Piccadilly Circus. A panel of neon signs twisted and flashed, as if a part of Tokyo had been bolted to the side of a grey old building. Under it, groups of people waited on the kerb as the brawling traffic passed them.

I turned to see Eros’ shadow slash across a woman as she stopped on the pavement a little way down the road. I could see only the sunlit side of her head, surrounded by a cloud of her own breath. I pressed the side of my hand to my forehead, pointlessly, and saw a patch of her cheek and ear under the brightened strands of hair and fuzz on her scarf.
She twisted and bobbed a little as I watched her, then jerked her shoulders as she shivered with a grimace. Her face in the sun at last, grimacing.
I stood up.

On the pavement between us, stray tourists merged and circled. Hurried commuters sliced through them.[2] A group of kids passed me, shouting.
I stepped forward.

Out of reflex and nervousness I broke into a smile. Seeing me, her face softened momentarily, and hardened again. I knew it would never be that easy.
She watched me as I walked towards her, sinking into the crowd. I weaved through them, grateful for the shelter, until finally I reached her, standing alone on the open pavement.
She looked at me. Her eyebrows were arched in scepticism under the creased white skin of her forehead. A gust of cold wind made us both shiver.

I raised my hand and said hello.

‘Hi’ she said, and waited, leaving me to start explaining.

referenced works

  1. Although popularly referred to as “Eros”, the iconic statue which sits atop the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus is in fact a likeness of Eros’ brother Anteros. Not that anyone except the sculptor is that worried about it (and he’s dead, so hopefully he’s not too bothered), but it’s an interesting nugget of fact nonetheless.

  2. As people-watching spots go, Piccadilly Circus is, for the reason Tim gives here, an excellent one. Fewer more gratifying sights exist than the frustration of a businessman’s purposeful stride by a thicket of gawping holidaymakers, and you too can experience the joy by squinting extremely hard at this fish-eye webcam view, thoughtfully provided by Transport for London. (Ant)Eros is to the right of the picture, and the panel of neon signs is in the middle at the top.

location information

  • Name: (Ant)Eros\' Statue
  • Address: Piccadilly Circus, London, W1V
  • Time of story: Afternoon
  • Latitude: 51.50999782583918
  • Longitude: -0.1348721981048584
  • Map: Google Maps


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