Sade, the sweetest taboo playing in Starbucks on Wardour Street
A man sits down next to another man and they’ll leave separately.
The people passing the window look the inhabitants square in the face. They can afford to be brazen, secure in their anonymity.
The denizens of the cafe experience the world through the periphery of their vision. They look at phones, laptops, iPads, plausible objects of their attention, giving the lie to side glances and edgeward stares.
Yellow and red light against the roof of the black cab.
Indicator lights flash suddenly in the glasses of an old man in the road, who jumps back from an onslaught of rickshaws.
He looks out of place, though he comes to Soho alone every other evening and wanders in thwarted hope.
Acrylic hair tumbles from shoulders as a woman inspects a broken heel on favourite shoes, and swears.
It’s all a silent film from the window seat. Only the traffic can be heard alongside the blaring music.
The milling thousands, the shouting, spitting, laughing, drunken thousands outside are silent.
Shoulders are knocking against shoulders in the crush, eyes are touching each other across streets and from doorways polluted with exhaled smoke.
Only Whitney Houston can be heard in the window seat. Bodies are examined at the edges of vision by eyes attached to screens.
Outside, the swagger.
Inside, the forced languor.
Eyes fixed on screens
Peripheral vision finely honed.
“Is this a parody playlist?” Says one man to another.
Nothing could be said here that wouldn’t sound like an opening line, in this refuge for people who lack the swagger of the world outside the window. Hopefuls who can only speak in reply.
And the man leaves and passes the window seat.
A silent film.