…Woke up to the continuous sound of Underground trains.
I heard 20.
Went to Tower Bridge.
Walked across the high walkways.
They aren’t balconies.
They’re all glassed in with holes in to look out.
When I looked out I got a face full of wind and rain.
Went to HMV and Marks and Spencers.
Went to the station and got train to Loughborough.
Home in a taxi…
We had stayed with an old friend of my mum’s who had a house in Islington. The bedroom in which me and my sister spent the night directly overlooked a railway line. Whenever I read or see an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story The Bruce Partington Plans, I am reminded of this bedroom.
However I realise now that I can’t have been hearing Underground trains, for there is no Underground line that runs above ground through Islington.
It must have been either what’s now the Overground line running between Highbury and Islington and Canonbury, or the mainline north from Moorgate which surfaces just before Drayton Park station on its way to Finsbury Park and beyond.
Anyway, whichever trains were running on whichever line I listened to on this day 25 years ago, the occasion was a formative one.
It was my first experience of lying in bed and hearing a train pass by: a sensation that is surely one of the most evocative and sentimental there is, albeit one that faces stiff competition from lying in bed and hearing the sound of rain falling. Or, I suppose, simply lying in bed.
The remainder of our trip to London sounds empty of anything approaching this kind of excitement, although that might be due to my second and equally doomed attempt to write a diary entry in the style of a pithy intellectual.
I do remember being absolutely blown away by HMV on Oxford Street. I couldn’t believe so much music was all in one place. In 1986, this meant more to me than a “face full of wind and rain”.