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The first things I notice are the miniature scenes appearing on top of bus shelters all along Kingsland Road.

They're obscure little freeze frames: on one, a male figure lies face down on a green sheet littered with tiny bits of stuff, at the next, a painted turtle sits at the edge of a mirror pond. Further down the road, there's a Barbie-style doll placed next to a teacup filled with solid blue paint.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, opposite St Leonards Hospital, Father Christmas stands trapped in a small white birdcage. How apt, how absolutely east London, to make art just for people bothering to look out from the top deck of a paused bus.

Today the bus goes on diversion. Normally there'd be some sort of near-mutiny, but London is caught between the post-Christmas pull of restlessness and reluctance; the one half of London heading back to work seems to welcome any delay. 

So after Shoreditch High Street Station we take a left past Spitalfields towards Aldgate East, along Commercial Road. And in the distance I see the familiar quote flipped on its head, still there in massive white capital letters on its dirty wall on Brick Lane: TIRED OF LIFE, TIRED OF LONDON.

And it's not that I've been tired of London exactly, but live anywhere for long enough and a city can become another thing to wade through; just another thing to pass by, tick off, and get done. 

It was a morning in mid November last year when I first saw the little bus stop scenes as I passed them, one by one. And this morning, Father Christmas and his bird cage were replaced and gone. But maybe they'd all been there for months before that, changing periodically, for anyone who cared to look and notice: and it's just that I wasn't, and did not. 

Read more thoughts from London here.


Three things I think you might like.


1. Read: Rules for Visiting, by Jessica Francis Kane.

2. Listen: Floating Points live from Printworks is up on YouTube (that light show maaaan).
 

PS.

Thanks for sticking around, I hope to appear in your inbox a little more often again in 2020. Until then, enjoy the last few quiet days before all the work-related emails arrive. Happy New Year x 

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