The end of the route takes George by surprise. He has a sense of having travelled south-east, but the scale of the city is yet to avail itself.
The April rain has vanished as quickly as it arrived. He places a sticker on the window, walks carefully down the narrow stairs and nods a thank-you to the driver.
Outside, he finds himself in a modern, glass-fronted circular station surrounded by gentrified docks and a huge, dispiriting shopping outlet. From out of the reeds on the dock emerges a sculpture of two Canadian timber porters, hefting a large plank of wood. Lost in the clean lines and shiny surfaces of regeneration, George finds solace with the ghosts of manual labour.
He sits on an uncomfortable bench and eats his sandwiches, listening for echoes of the dock’s past, but it is eerily quiet. George wonders if he should call Margaret, but to be honest he hasn’t mustered the courage to use the phone she insisted he bring on his ‘selfish’ scheme, so he takes a moment to collect his thoughts before walking to find the start of the 171, which will take him further south, into the suburban sprawl.
March is an ongoing story based on a man’s search for his lost son on London’s buses.
1 – Welcome to London
2 – Thames