It’s scary. Habit is a scary thing. It’s been years since I’ve been involved in any kind of commuting but here I am on my second day at the book fair taking the metro and suddenly becoming aware of the hypnotic state that I fell into as soon as I hit the rush hour. It’s the defence mechanism that got me through years of travelling, crushed, personal space seriously abused, on the London tube at rush hour. I don’t like feeling that I can fall back into it so easily.
In this trance-like state life passes you by as you protect yourself from it, your mind focused solely on getting through the journey with sanity intact. I recognise, from yesterday’s commute, a little old lady in one of the tunnels as I change from the pale blue line to the dark blue line. I suspect she lives there, there is something about her. I’ll bet if I spent a few more days commuting that I wouldn’t even notice her anymore. She talks to me as I walk past, I realise too late and that I have acted as any well-trained commuter would: I’d ignored her, hadn’t even been aware of her as a human being.
A drunk gets on the train with his breakfast beer loudly berating his audience. He’s from Morocco and can’t get a European community passport. His debate with his invisible world is titled ‘The Red Passport’. He repeats those words in every incoherent sentence. Everyone automatically squashes even more together to keep away from him and I take advantage of this giving myself a little more room while keeping one eye on him. This is better than the hypnotic commuter state, I am taking decisions that separate me from the crowd and give me a little advantage. As long as the drunk doesn’t focus on me. This is a better survival strategy: awareness.
Arriving at the conference centre half an hour early (when will I learn not to be so British?) I’m desperate for a seat. High heels are great but not when you’re vertical.
Continuing my now 24 hour old love affair with the digital world of publishing: ebooks, and especially print on demand, I have naturally chosen ‘social networks: new channels for book sales’ as my first conference. All I have to do is give my feet a rest and engage my brain. Let’s see what the rest of the book fair brings. The jury is still out but the vote is being taken and I haven’t even been to Frankfurt yet.