Saturday 3 March 2007

The stairway to heaven? - # 35

Stand here on the art deco steps of Richmond station and you will recognise the faces of the stars of stage screen and radio, senior politicians, top rank civil servants, peers of the realm, high court judges, journalists, captains of industry, and foreign diplomats, as they stream down on their way to work in the Capital.

Is the outcome of our life dependent on the way we play the cards we are dealt? Do we create our own luck, or is it all planned and mapped out beforehand by destiny?

Down these stairs they stream: taking the main line fast train direct to Waterloo Station for the City, the world’s leading financial centre, for the Inns of Court where the world’s top lawyers practice, for Fleet St. where the journalists grub up the financial and legal scandals, and also to Waterloo for the luxuries of the Savoy Hotel, the fleshpots of Soho and theatre land, the elegant shops of Bond St. and the HQ offices of the world’s great mining and minerals companies, and of course Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.

If you are in the oil business, or a senior civil servant, then you might take a semi fast to Clapham Junction and change for Victoria Station for the West End of London.

The stars of television and radio, and media and advertising executives, head for the District Line to Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

They all stream out to conquer their day.

In the opposite direction, arriving on the Northern Line from east London come the “ethnic” minorities and asylum seekers, desperate to become “British”, looking for the main railway line that will take them from Richmond west to Feltham and the court tribunal that will decide on their future. They will later return happy, or not return, being sent on, broken-hearted, to await the next plane out of LHR back to a place they tried to escape from. On the Northern Line, also, come the poor from east London, going down to Feltham to see their delinquent underage sons who are locked up in the Feltham Young Offenders’ Centre (do not use the word prison). In amongst them are those who do not want to be noticed, on “other business”. The secret policeman and the surveillance cameras are watching them. You will notice a discrete flash of a badge, or a radio call.

Together with these downhearted from the east end of London come the Poles: marching in disciplined ranks, all with the correct ticket held up clear to see (they do not want trouble), dragging their tool boxes. Poles now make up about 80% of the, builders, electricians, plumbers and cleaners who keep the professional classes of Richmond happy. Five years ago there were no Poles apart from left- over Polish soldiers who came in 1939.

Stand here and you will see them; recognise them. They will reach out and touch your mind.
Take up your cards! Play them! Now!


  1. one photo, much thought~~
    when we stand amongst the people, crowded...we may lose our mind.
    but empty stairs like this, our mind begin to active.

    have the nice weekend.

  2. A very thoughtful post.

    We can see all you mentioned around the world with the exception of "peers of the realm".