I got off the bus as it came to a slow stop and as I walked past Burger King, the scent of greasy fast food filled my nostrils. The bus departed again, crawling along the road, leaving my sight, as it turned a sharp corner. An elderly man cut across my walking path to use the cash machine on the corner. As he walked towards it, I could see the growing disappointment on his face, to find it was out of order. I could now see more buses ahead of me, each turning and disappearing down the same road mine did. Employees of JD sports were stood outside smoking cigarettes. Another employee walked out of the large clothes shop and offered a co-worker a cigarette. The early daylight, reflecting off the blue packet, was a big giveaway that he was smoking Richmond Superkings. His friend shook his head to decline the offer and he slid the packet back into his trouser pocket. Rustling about in his inside jacket pocket, he asked his friend, “Do you have a lighter?” The friend then retrieved a cheap orange lighter from his coat, sparking a flame and protecting it from the lingering chill in the air.
I stopped at a set of traffic lights and pressed the button to change the lights, so I could cross safely. A young man in a white Volkswagen Polo stopped for the red light. As I crossed, I looked into his car and saw him shabbily dressed and in need of a shave. “He must be late for work”, I thought to myself. The traffic lights changed to amber and he sped away. A smart business woman, who looked about twenty, was walking towards me on her mobile phone. It sounded like she was sorting an important business deal out, listing off huge numbers and figures, hurriedly and impatiently. She weaved her way past me and through the growing crowd of early morning hustle and bustle, everyone trying to reach their own destinations, caring little for barging into somebody.
The only people I saw, that were not rushing were the homeless people. They were dotted around on various benches and in doorways of shops that had not yet opened. One woman had already propped herself up against a pillar, an old polystyrene cup set in front of her, hopeful of any spare change from the inner-city commuters. I saw another man still curled up under a dirty pile of blankets and sleeping bags, his faithful dog by his side. Accustomed to the daily noise, the tramp slept through it, his only disturbance was the pigeons, pecking at crumbs from the day before. As I continued walking, a group of noisy school children passed me, the boys pushing and shoving jokily, the girls squealing from the latest bit of gossip. They sent the pigeons flying into my path, as they darted to the safety of nearby chimney tops.