Tangled yarns from London's passers-through

018 : Dylan Carline at Brixton Station
Born in 1978 in the Lake District. Dylan Carline currently works as an engineer and writer Why London? The myriad varieties of everything and the people that I love. He digs the following London bits: the buzz, the scene, the action, and the dinosaurs. He is, however, a bit miffed by the futility of hastening around a place where nothing can be achieved quickly. For more info on Dylan Carline you should send an email or visit his blog.

image: Danie

“One of them shot me 'die hippy' neon rays from under his star-shaped glasses.”

We were to meet outside the tube station in Brixton. She was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. The premise: a date. Riding up the escalator into the night, my first time here, I noticed acute drops in temperature with each weary clunk, and a regular metallic grinding that quite clearly meant ‘please use the stairs’.

It was colder than I expected. A still night, but dry compared to what I had become used to. Trails of breath lingered, their form and meaning suspended in transient beauty, inexorably decaying from this fragile state. Once gone, they were replaced, in seamless exchange, by the heavily breathing procession of people around me. I wondered if I was the only person here without an imminent need to be in another place, and therefore the only one capable of appreciating this scene. I briefly entertained the notion that it was entirely for me. Abruptly, someone buffeted me from behind. Evidently I was in the way. Rousing myself with a deep, icy breath, I realised that I had begun to tingle slightly.

The dense ball of excitement in my stomach wouldn’t attribute itself specifically to either the forthcoming event or the fact that I was back in London. It probably comprised an amount of both. Where I live (the Lake District, in case you’re interested), you don’t see that many people, especially at night, and the ones you do see are generally all made in the same factory. I spent ten minutes waiting at the top of the escalator, but could have happily been there for an hour.

A gig must have been happening somewhere[1]. Hundreds of young people dressed brightly in day-glo trousers and coats filed past me. Resplendent non-conformity! Many of them wore sunglasses as well. I couldn’t decide whether this was part of the uniform or a safety-inspired consequence of their collective hue[2]. One of them caught me grinning and shot me ‘die hippy’ neon rays from under his star-shaped glasses, before being sucked back into the amoebic mass. For some reason this tickled me, disproportionately so. I grinned even more.

From the dazzling stream of passers-by she suddenly emerged, instantaneously silhouetted against the crowd. Then, walking closer, I noticed her looking quizzically at the childish grin that refused to leave my face. To my relief, she giggled. We wandered off to eat, leaving our trails of laughter, unmistakably visible, hanging in the air outside the station.

referenced works

  1. Most probably at the Brixton Academy, the area’s biggest and most famous music venue, which most readers will undoubtedly remember from early 90s indie sensation Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine’s ‘In Bed With Carter’, a landmark slice of rock cinematography. For those suffering from a distinct lack of Carter USM in their lives, rumours abound that the band are available for hire, but be advised, you will have to stump up the princely sum of £250 in order to engage their musical services for an evening. And the singer doesn’t have that silly haircut any more.

  2. From the description, these young music lovers sound like adherents of ‘nu-rave’ music, which has enjoyed a surge of popularity of late. Its associated fashion not only sticks it to the man, but has the pleasing side effect of rendering the wearer highly visible to oncoming traffic. It is still entirely up to the driver’s discretion, however, whether or not to avoid any nu-ravers who appear, like startled rabbits, in their headlights.

location information

  • Name: Brixton Station
  • Address: Brixton Station, Brixton Rd, London SW9
  • Time of story: Evening
  • Latitude: 51.462657250836536
  • Longitude: -0.1145625114440918
  • Map: Google Maps



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