Friday, 1 February 2013

Day 32 : that red light!

Tonight the glowing roundel above Tower Hill station seemed especially welcoming. And in the background on the other side of the Thames, still discernible in the dark, is the Shard. A curious building, one that looks oddly unfinished even though it is.

I think the fascination of these glowing roundels especially at night reminds me of road trips in the US.

When I was young a couple of holidays involved the family piling into a two-doored hire car (two doors being so much more ’interesting’ for the lone non-smoker in the back with no window to crack) and then hitting the road. And I really mean hitting the road. It seemed that a successful day holidaying could be measured in miles travelled. And if a couple of state borders could be crossed in a day, all the better. After a brunch at somewhere like Denny’s we’d point the car in the general direction we were heading and see how far we could get. There would hopefully be some stop offs to visit a spot that caught our eye en route and then back heading for some chain motel, generally a Motel 6 on the far, far horizon.

Peering at all the neon signs that, looking like giant multi-colour lollipops, would indicate the next batch of fast-food outlets, storage warehouses and convenience stores we’d strain our eyes for the glimpse of that white Motel 6 sign indicating that a bed (hopefully) awaits. We generally didn't book ahead so there was often trepidation of spotting a FULL sign but if we got our keys we were on the home straight and could relax. I don't recall ever arriving before darkness, so my abiding memory other than the vibrating beds (no, never figured that out either) and the novelty of an ice machine was the perpetually glowing welcoming vivid red Coke machine promising a cold refreshing drink for us all after all that driving.

Now the vibrant red sign illuminating the darkness indicates the beginning of my journey, my journey home generally. My local tube station is deprived of a roundel, our station is also a mainline train station so that seems to take precedence, trumping the London Underground signage in favour of the much duller South West Trains insignia. Certainly no road-trips-across-the-US reminisces there!


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