Tangled yarns from London's passers-through

019 : Stephen Ledger-Lomas on Highbury & Islington tube platform, Islington
Born in 1980 in Liverpool. Stephen Ledger-Lomas currently works as an art buyer/photographer Why London? I’m not really sure any more. He digs the following London bits: bagels in Brick Lane, the V&A, London Fields in late Summer, Magma Bookstore and the fact that it doesn’t really feel like England at all. He is, however, a bit miffed by the feeling of loss every time I return from the countryside, worrying about abandoned bags in train stations, exhaust fumes, being away from my family and the fact that it doesn't really feel like England at all. For more info on Stephen Ledger-Lomas you should send an email or visit his website.

image: Cecilia Lundqvist

“Then our eyes flicked back together again, and a tear was gathering on her cheek.”

She looked up at me between a mass of tangled arms, knotted brows and apathetic expressions of uncomfortable misery. At first I noticed her pupils, which were dusk and oak and silent. I glanced away uncomfortably and scanned hundreds of other vacant expressions[1]. Then our eyes flicked back together again, and a tear was gathering on her cheek.

The carriage roared on towards Highbury, juddering on bent rails, and every time I glanced back, she was trying harder to stifle tears as she looked at the floor. I wanted to ask her what was wrong, and a million terrible possibilities flicked through my mind, but I couldn’t speak through the tension, and I couldn’t bear the thought that nobody might be able to help.

Fists clenched on cold rails as the train came to an abrupt halt at its destination and the cattle roared out of the gate and she was ahead of me and almost gone. I swerved through the crowd and found her sitting alone on the last bench on that grim platform, just before the gaping tunnel, turned away from the world. Everyone had moved on. The final commuter clicked away in her accountancy heels[2].

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

She was lying.

I left.

referenced works

  1. The vacant expression is the foremost tool in the London commuter’s box of defence mechanisms, but don’t let it fool you. Behind that blank, blank stare, a million thoughts about exactly how annoying you are are running through your fellow commuters’ heads, and none shall be forgiven even a minor infraction of the unspoken Rules of the Tube, not even the blind. Think twice before making accidental eye contact with that seemingly harmless woman, casual traveller - she might have cause to write about you on her incredibly ugly homepage of tips about how to get on, get off, stand on and sit in trains.

  2. Those having trouble visualising these intriguing-sounding shoes need only visit higheelshoemuseum.com, the Internet’s number one source for garish high-heel-related content. The site very proudly proclaims that it is ‘the #1 most popular listing in the entire world for ‘high heel shoe’ on Google’. Not only is this not true (it was 5th when I did it), it appears nowhere in a Google search for the grammatically correct ‘high-heeled shoe’. Those looking for a heel that suffers less from poor English usage, and which is presented in soothing fuchsia, are advised to visit Heel Directory instead.

location information

  • Name: Highbury & Islington tube platform
  • Address: Holloway Road, N5 1RA
  • Time of story: Evening
  • Latitude: 51.54681543408358
  • Longitude: -0.10394096374511719
  • Map: Google Maps



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