On a quiet suburban platform at 5.20am, a different voice urged us to ‘Mind the Gap’.
The most beautiful part of the King’s coronation was waiting for an early morning tube at Hounslow East.
Classical music echoed faintly and tired faces sitting opposite barely realised the significance of the day.
This was just another weekend for Heathrow staff less familiar with current events.
Yet all could feel the reverberations from the capital’s centre that gently touched our greater London life.
No such charm existed at Westminster Abbey or the Mall up to Buckingham Palace but few could disagree that London today was a starburst of colourful British history fast losing its flavour.
Soldiers marched proudly through streets of the capital and crowds were alive with life of the day.
But as with all blissful moments, marching men were soon replaced by surveying helicopters and free crowds cut off from family. The authorities had superimposed barriers that made it stiflingly impossible to move.
By 8.30am, hundreds waited to cross the Mall to be reunited with their tents which in many cases had been camped out the whole of the previous night. But high-vis vests said no as they implemented the orders of their superiors.
A young woman was dragged roughly by a member of staff back to the crowd for veering off course and spectators cried common assault.
In the end, the only way to cross the road was through a long journey to Victoria Station and disembarking at Embankment which put one on the opposite side of the river.
Moving around Trafalgar Square was not much easier but those lucky enough to find a viewing point not cordoned-off could at least try to worm their way through the crowds.
At Trafalgar Square, the red white and blues were met with an acerbic yellow. Republicans had gathered outside the venue to protest the day’s affairs.
Huge banners and chants of ‘Not my King’ made their way into the crowd and protesters held signs saying ‘This Country is Ours’ and ‘God Save the King Pele.’
And slowly inching forward, an eight-foot banner that read ‘Abolish the Monarchy’ was the final obstacle to slip under before a dramatic entry into no-man’s land and then a sudden dip into enemy territory where the red white and blue were masters once more.
But all were pleasant and the day cracked on. Loud Republican chants met with smirks from a silent majority but both sides co-existed as a harmonious whole.
When the King came, many missed the thing as an array of smartphones blocked the view to the road. And in moments where you could feel the keenness of the onlookers, the mystical vibrancy of the culture and a rooted identity, you couldn’t help feel that much of this was fast fading away in a shallow structure of practicalities and secularised institutions which lacked their predecessor’s romantic air.
The crowds were heavy and streets noisy so I left London and turned to the quieter familiarity of greater London to compose these thoughts.
The coronation was nice but really I can’t wait to go back to Hounslow.
I’d like the next big event I attend to be the World Cup.
Then I can sit in a crowd of patriots – from any country, it doesn’t matter – and hold up a sign saying ‘God Save the King Pele’ with an English flag and my Multicultural London English accent.
Featured image: James Sladden