OUT 4th December 2020
‘The Commute’ has interested me as a subject as it has been the necessary travel of millions of people every day. The commonality of experience. The mundanity, the daily snap shot of life, as the world changes, the routine and the weariness. It is sometimes viewed as dead time whilst for others it is essential, a space to prepare or decompress from the day. There can be feelings of alienation with a loss of identity or conversely a sense of common purpose, each of us cogs in the wheel working for ourselves and each other. The images and writing aim no more than to describe the experience of one of those cogs, my own experience of this routine travel. The commute that had seemed so relentless and endless is now changed as I sit writing at my desk in my home which has been the extent of my commute for many months within the Covid 19 pandemic. This is another shared human experience that only serves to show us the uncertainty and unpredictability of life. In 2019 my poem 'Waterloo Station' along with associated images were published in the Argentinian magazine La Tundra. The collection of poems, prose and imagery is nearing completion and will be available as an eBook and print on demand soft-cover versions.
EXTRACTS from 'The Commute' by Andrew Johnston Davies
Waterloo, this cathedral space,
majestical in its vastness where people come only to leave.
as a child this was London,
as a man it is where I am dumped out day after day from the incoming conveyer belts,
and all around me are the commuters in their clocklike routines,
controlled by the ticking minutes that dictate our lives,
that thrust upon us unasked for familiarities.
there is the Evening standard stall,
there is the card shop,
there are the sloping escalators
and here is the thronging crowd programmed like me, head down, no time to stop.
The journeys are laid down like silt,
fine upon the ocean floor,
solidifing over time into moulds
and we become shaped within those moulds until one day you forget who you once were.
What was it I wanted?
When I was a child what did I expect, was it this?
The days of midwinter play tricks and draw lines upon my face,
they pull and tug at my skin and at my soul.
Today I arrive early to open up a small crack in time.
I rise up to the gods of the balcony café and from there look down upon the hordes below.
They gather in eddies,
standing like iron filings aligned by the magnetism of the information boards.
From time to time a small herd breaks off,
rushing to the gates where the scrum filters into single file and heads on through to the platforms and trains. There is a restless movement,
the sound of humans, black coated like bats,
an old man who moves slower than the rest, leaning on his wheeled support.
The overhead tannoy booms news of some train going someplace, sometime soon.
An electrical wire hangs down from the roof space ending in a coiled knot.
It swings gently, powered by the vibrations of trains, generators and footsteps.
The heartbeat of the city,
quiet and slow it marks out our time.
TURNING OF THE DAY
from 'The Commute' by Andrew Johnston Davies
I saw the sunrise
I saw the sunset
The sky was dark when I came and dark when I left
A sunrise so pure
I stopped my routines to see its splendor
The sun half peering over jumbled rooftops and chimney pots
Shining its riches down,
I stood cradled within its light
Soothed by its presence
Ephemeral, it could not last
But I could not bear to see it fade
I turned my back at its zenith.
So by evening time the sun had fallen
Pale light to the west
There came a darkness from the east
The door closed behind
I had seen little of the day
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