Soho Stories

This is not the post that I intended to add today.  That one did not suit my rather melancholic mood so I will post it another time.  Instead, I wrote this, and I hope that you enjoy it.

London has certainly moved towards becoming more of a 24 hour city, not that it will ever overtake somewhere like New York for example and I don’t think I want it to, this is not a pissing contest after all!  Despite that, I do like to know that if I wanted to or needed to buy a pint of milk at three in the morning, I can do so.

I am an early riser, and it is not uncommon (once my train pulls into Charing Cross) for me to walk to my office on Regent St, a walk which takes me 20 minutes – yes, I know I am not the world’s fastest walker before you lot jump in with your comments!

With my iPod on and not knowing what the next track will be I cross Trafalgar Square, turn right up Whitcomb St where my route will then take me through Soho and the fun begins.  The people up and about at that time never notice me so I can look and glance at them and attach little scenarios to their lives.

With that in mind, this is what I witnessed on my walk from 6am this morning – in no particular order:

One drag queen on her way home maybe from working in a club, still in her full slap and gaudy clothes, perhaps the false eyelashes have drooped though, yawning and sleepily stumbling about in her ridiculously high heels.

Two Japanese girls in the eclectic outfits and shoes that only Japanese girls wear, huddled together, holding onto each other, whilst giggling and chatting.  Whose telephone number did they get last night?

Couples wandering about after a night in the clubs and/or casino, still in their evening finery looking for somewhere to eat and drink, because they want to put off for as long as they can the moment when the night has to end and they have to go home.  (By
the way, MacDonald’s in Leicester Sq is open).

A group of men hanging about on a street corner, talking and gesticulating, some still holding a bottle of beer or two, one of them is taking a piss in a doorway.  Perhaps they are doing little deals and selling dubious substances to each other, who knows.

The Berwick St market porter talking to a stall holder, leaning on one of the dilapidated wooden stalls with its paint peeling, animated even at that time and putting the world to rights, whilst further up the street, a young man tries to manoeuvre his stall into his pitch so that he can start setting up.  I bet he wishes the porter would shut up and give him a hand!

Workers in the sandwich shops, preparing the ingredients that will fill the stomachs of hungry people at lunch time, the domes of fillings like tuna mayo and chicken Tikka with their parsley garnish sitting proud on the silver platters.  The smell of what seems like tuna and cucumber reaches my nostrils when I walk past one of them.

A delivery man in his white van (of course!), not bothering to indicate and parking illegally, throwing out the papers and magazines to sit higgledy piggledy in a heap in front of the newsagent’s door.

A middle-aged lady off to work, probably a cleaner, rubbing the sleep from her eyes having clumsily pulled on the nearest thing to hand when she got up, clasping her handbag and the bunch of keys to her, ready to unlock the office she is responsible for.

An early morning street cleaner, wearily pushing his cart and broom, sweeping away the detritus of last night.

The bin men, collecting the many bags of rubbish left out by the commercial enterprises in the area, the only real constant noise penetrating the early morning.

Another man with a fag in his mouth,squinting as he directs the jet hose along a pavement and gutter to clean them, using a solution that smells too lovely and fresh to be associated with this area.

A couple of ladies of the night, either solo red light workers or club performers make their way home, yawning and grimacing as they totter about on platforms that make their feet ache and gives them blisters.  Eagerly looking forward to the moment when the fantasy facade they wear every day will be removed and they are young women once more, needing the comfort of their beds.  Perhaps though, they have families to see to before all that, who knows?

Foreign students milling about enjoying being in a different environment, either having been up all night or not, laughing at the signs in the sex shop windows and pretending they are sophisticated and know it all.

Mr and Mrs A N Tourist, hunched over a London street map, working out their Wednesday route, him clutching his camera to his chest and hoping it won’t pour with rain (their likely thoughts!).

Having to take a slight detour because of an incident that caused part of my route to be cordoned off by the police, hoping there were no injuries.  Or worse.

Gulls circling lazily in the sky calling to their comrades on the ground to steal from the pigeons who have discovered a tasty morsel discarded by those other creatures that walk on two legs.

And I know that whatever shit I was going through yesterday and that might be repeated today is briefly forgotten as I take in these unassuming stories of Soho.