Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying an alternative commute to London – quiet trains at off peak times, travelling the opposite way to most city dwellers and heading into town to visit friends and loved ones almost every weekend. No work to rush for, no meetings to be planning; just me and my headphones and what promises to be a beautiful weekend ahead of me.
One of the joys that has come from all this sitting around is the free time it’s given me to just relax, and daydream, and think. Time out of my day to organise my thoughts, imagine scenarios, plan events and think about whatever I want. Normally, this involves drafting mental witty tweets out of less than interesting situations around me.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare
I’m a sucker for day dreams. Having a whole hour of uninterrupted thoughts on my journey into London provides me with a blank canvas of imagination. While typically this tends to revolve around the man of my dreams arriving on my doorstep with a bunch of flowers, ready to sweep me into his arms with a huge speech of love, other avenues my brain wanders through include decorating my dream 3 story London townhouse, award winning magazine articles that would make me the celebrity of the editorial world, and epic speeches that I would now deliver to all of my most evil enemies – endless l’esprit de l’escalier that I idolise and perfect ready for the next face to face encounter.
“Everything starts as somebody’s daydream.” – Larry Niven
But this time off is mostly directed into the joys and beauty of people watching. Walking through Victoria station and seeing the swarms of people, the floods of colours, the displays of smells and activity that goes on around you. Single business men in suits, headed to world changing business meetings atop of Canary Wharf; Chinese tourists, flawlessly filling their stereotype with Nikon cameras swinging freely from their neck and bumbags securely tightened to their waist yet still perfectly visible to all passers by; parents with teenage children, scowling their way through the family outing but smiling fleetingly at the remembrance of whatever big day out they are lucky enough to be treated to; although a cliché, the diversity of cultures throughout London simply has to be marvelled at. One afternoon, as I impatiently bounded my way up the steps that act as an escape from the horrific Victoria line dungeon, I had the pleasure of helping an oriental bride struggling with her ascent whilst holding her endless layers of petticoat and additional bouffant. A small bridal party, perhaps including her new husband, or her brother dressed impeccably for such an occasion, that refused to let the hustle and bustle of miserable London society stop them from enjoying their day – after all, not all brides can have a horse and carriage for their big day.
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra
During commutable hours, smart and successful men, donning their brightest shirts, neatly ironed trousers and impeccably shiny shoes are in their sweet smelling abundance. In my position, it’s easy enough to admire a well dressed man who is obviously proud and content in their own day’s achievements, yet most of all I love admiring beautiful women, not all of which are lucky enough to be wearing their wedding gown on their daily commute. Most of the socialites that grace London town are gorgeous, groomed and well dressed from head to toe. Perfect hair, designer outfits, carefree air about them as they elegantly glide through the city on their fashionable quests. While I finish work in a flustered and stressed out state, eager to get home and get into my pyjamas as soon as possible, these women seem to step out of their huge cosmopolitan offices with not a hair out of place, their makeup still set perfectly across their stunning cheekbones, tailored blazers with somehow even less creases than at the start of the day.
“Always wear a smile because you never know who is watching.” – Gracie Gold
I’ve made a conscious effort to stop gawping at them amorously, and try to study them. What is it about them that makes them pretty? What traits do they have that I would like to emulate myself? Why should I feel any less than them when we’re both beaming in the sunshine and walking free spirited to our destinations?
“The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.” – Oscar Wilde
While I try to draw myself away from materialistic designer brands – although perhaps for the sake of my bank account rather than my morals – a leather handbag or pair of celebrity sunglasses that don the shiny logo of an Oxford Street boutique instantly add sophistication to any idol sat next to you. I saw a gorgeous young woman who looked the epitome of elegance because of a pair of black spectacles that framed her flawless face. They were almost identical to mine, so why did I feel she owned them so much better than myself? The small and subtle Dior that read along the arm of the glasses just added that final touch of class that instantly made them more of an accessory than a necessity; a goal I hope to emulate as my own eyesight deteriorates.
Mostly it comes down to being beautifully tanned and having the slickest, straightest of hair styles – alas, two traits that I will never be blessed with. But I can take inspiration from their hairstyles, their accessories, their fashion sense, and what gives them their initial Wow factor and totally justified spring in their step that I can’t help but admire.
“There are charms made only for distant admiration.” – Samuel Johnson
Embrace modern beauty – if you seen a young lady looking gorgeous, tell her! If the man you’re squeezed up next to smells good, tell him! Little moments of appreciation will go such a long way, especially within the stressed out environment of London town. So if you see me staring at you next time you’re sat opposite me on the tube, take it as a compliment. Unless you’re eating a banana. Then I’m probably just judging you.