Not every day, of course…
…some days I am on a tube train in central London enveloped by an atmosphere of madness and joy. It is mid-evening, perhaps half past nine on a Saturday night. The sun has been shining all day – in fact, it’s been shining all month – and this afternoon England’s football team beat Sweden to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Effervescent bubbles, sometimes comprising a dozen or so, sometimes just a single individual, float this way and that. They are singing and hollering, waving arms and flags, their exuberance amplified by the curves of the underground, ‘It’s coming home’ boomed and reverberating up and down escalators, in and out of tunnels.
The theatre-goers, tourists and other central London occasionals would normally be cowed by this: we all know how football fans can get out of hand.
But not today. Today their numbers are dwarfed. Today, every street, every staircase, every platform and every carriage is bursting with the colour and laughter of Pride. The Smile Index is off the chart. I have never seen or heard or experienced anything quite like it. I am amiably surrounded in my carriage by half a dozen people who are noisy and happy and insist on flirting with me for the entire journey. My mum has found a seat opposite a group of bears who are dizzily discussing the best way to use water melon in a salad. One young man’s Pride flag is almost trapped by the closing train door and my reward for saving it (and possibly even him) is a series of enormous hugs, first from him and then from his friends.
Welcome to London. Welcome to what it feels like when things go well. Welcome to the possibility that everything will be all right.
After all, isn’t that what ‘home’ is supposed to be all about?