This was the morning of the solar eclipse, apparently. We were taking their word for it: the professionals. The astrologers and that new breed of scientist-celebrities – whether the fame concourse was being corrected or simply devouring every facet of culture in order to stay alive, who could say..
There were warnings of the ‘selfie phenomena’ – this being the first eclipse to occur since everyone has a mobile device appropriated for the sole use of taking self-portraits in various settings and surroundings. This, apparently, could lead to people accidentally looking at the sun for minutes. This is the level to which we have sunk as a species.
Despite all the excitement stirred up by the risk of blindness, we were left taking their word for this cosmic event when the mornings weather drifted into a dreary overcast haze. An opaque heavy fog blanketed the sky and prevented us from seeing anything, even after applying the usual Instagram filters.
An elderly woman beside me on the train looked up out the window, ‘No eclipse for us’ she says to me with a smile, ‘I remember the last one – I imagine you were very young but I remember it very well. It wasn’t so much the way it looked, but the chill that followed. How dreadfully cold it became so quickly. It made you realise you wouldn’t get far without the sun’. Humbled by her previous experience you could tell she longed to feel it again, chasing the dragon on the 08:38 Victoriabound.
She paused in thought, now with the attention of the neighbouring seats – ‘When is the next one? 2026? Hmm I’ll be very old then..’ her soliloquy trails off, bleary blighty has forced the question of morality on this poor woman – not the best start to this Friday morning.