(Extraordinary Popular Delusions and) The Madness of Crowds

I arrived at Paddington Station this evening on my usual commute, to find a cluster of thirty-odd young people, swaying and dancing… silently. Looking closely, they were all listening to headphones, dancing to their own music. Onlookers were befuddled, smiling, snapping pictures with their camera-equipped mobile phones (like my jerky attempt here). A couple of reporters roamed around, taking pictures with higher-tech kit, scribbling in their notebooks, and occasionally breaking the silent trance of a dancer for an interview. Looking yet more closely a few of the dancers’ headphones weren’t attached to an iPod or a portable CD player, but to a vegetable (at least one aubergine and celery stalk). I’d like to think that this was just a micro flash mob spontaneously generated by a couple of happy dancing teenagers, all the rest (not me and my lame ass) just joining in for the pure joy of movement in the outer silence (inner, too, for the vegetable-phoned participants). The station has never seemed so peaceful.