London Diary





It took me somewhat less than two hours of sulky staring at the passing landscape to get back from Bristol to London last friday. I arrived a few minutes past four, and boy, was I in for some weird surprises!

First surprise: as soon as I left Paddington Station I started to see Peugeot 305's all over the place. That had to be because of the one that I imagined was following me when I was in Bristol. It is like with my cute little goatee, the autumnly remains of several weeks of summerly non-shaving. Ever since I walk around with one - neatly trimmed every three, four days - I meet them goatee-bearing guys everywhere: I hop on a bus down Oxford Street, have a seat, look up, straight at some grinning goatee-adorned chin. As if looking into a fucking mirror! It happens all the time... Had I, unconsciously and unwantingly, become part of one of those mysterious outbreaks of fashion? Did I turn into a dedicated follower of a goatee fashion? Had the goatee been 'in the air', an 'idea' that all of a sudden materialized and synchronously descended upon thousands of unsuspecting individuals like myself, making them into bearers of some unknown 'sign of the times'? These things do happen, don't they? But I soon got used to my 'mirrors', and I resisted the earlier urge to get rid of it again. I'm keeping my goatee, I like it! It just happens also to make me 'goatee-conscious', I decided, and that's why I tend to notice them now, where before I did not.

In a similarly way, I realized, my Bristol-paranoļa had made me Peugeot 305-conscious... I had learned to pay attention to that particular type of car. And even though it can hardly be a very common means of London transport, I saw quite a few of them as I walked home along Craven Road.
There was one parked on the corner of Devonshire Terrace. A red one. I might have sworn that it was the car that had been 'stalking' me in Bristol, but before I was close enough for a detailed inspection, it suddenly came to life and raced off in the direction opposite to mine.