NAME: Laura Murray
COURSE: Culture, Media and Society
MODULE: Cities: Real and Imagined
ASSIGNMENT TITLE: Please Mind the Step When Alighting from This City
I skipped the gym this morning so promised myself I would walk home from Uni tonight instead, but it’s just so God damn cold. It is so cold that my body is tensed to the point of hurting. More snow is forecast for tomorrow too.
I begin my embittered walk home, annoyed at myself for being so strong-willed in this coarse weather. My eyes peep through the scarf that is wrapped high around my neck and I see the shadow of Arthur’s Seat looming in the distance, dominating the cityscape, standing strong against the wind and snow like an aged warrior topped with an icy toupee.
I make it as far as the bottom of Morningside Road, a point where the tranquillity of the residential area becomes drowned in bright lights and sirens. I have caved in. I sit on a bus making excuses for myself about why public transport was a better idea. It is warm, I’ll give it that. But not the kind of warm I had been fantasising about while walking down from Craighouse. Gazing down from the top deck window I see the sore red faces of people much stronger than myself. Dodging each other on the street, everybody keeps their head down; their only mission is to get home.
The bus falters its way down Bruntsfield Road picking up more weather-defeated pedestrians on route. As the seats fill up, so too do the windows with condensation making the journey feel more like an isolated delegation, shutting out anyone not on board. I keep thinking about getting home. The sweaty stickiness of the bus journey has made me feel shamefully dirty. The middle-aged balding man sitting next to me splutters into his hanky and I feel myself becoming contaminated. It would not surprise me if Lothian buses were a prime breeding place of Swine Flu.
After an unsuccessful run-in with the traffic lights at Tollcross, the bus battles its way down Lothian Road. Out of the front window there is nothing to see but a hazy medley of blinking red and orange lights from the queuing traffic ahead. I find a copy of today’s Metro lying crumpled and sopping on the floor. I give it one last shot to thrive and use it to wipe a view finder in my window.
I gaze once more at the suited pedestrians below, snaking their way to the nearest exits. The bus lets out a sigh of relief when more than half of its passengers alight at the stop adjacent to Waverley. The steps at Waverley Station are transformed into a rapid waterfall of desperation and anxiety from people who cannot escape the city fast enough. They arrive in the mornings, briefcase in hand and overflow the coffee shops at half past eight; pack out the delicatessen at half past one and swamp the train stations at half past five. Their mission is complete. The city to them is nothing more than money in their silk-lined pockets. It is work. It is filtered coffee and presentations.
The rest of my trek home is swift. We have passed the drudge, the dreaded distance of A to B. Office to train. I brace myself to enter the cold once more. Two minutes from the bus stop and I am at my front door. The heating burning, shower on. Mission accomplished.