Hello World. It’s been a long time.

But when I have to move for the fourth time in Chatham, I do it irritably. The small metal tray in front of me bleats loudly as I put it back in its place. I hurry off the stage, muttering unfortunate epigrams. When I plop down again, having passed two cars, I realize that I have lost my glasses, without which I cannot read a word, and I am too ashamed to go back and look for them. This fugue is my favorite thing.

Most discussions about whether it is better to travel or visit do not take into account the third option, namely that it might be better to stay at home. Like many people, I found it harder to get back into the world than I thought in the doldrums of 2021. Has everything always been so tiring? Another epigram flashes: “What’s the point of going out? We will still come back here. Thanks Homer Simpson.

I can’t read my book, but I can still look out the window. Rochester Castle, with its 12th-century fortress, floats by, and children are already playing on the grounds. We are crossing the Raynham Marshes, and I notice scattered groups of birdwatchers who have been there since dawn. The coronavirus is still prevalent; the economy is spinning out of control; planet on fire war in Europe. As more travelers join the London service, some heading to football, others to shopping in Westfield Stratford, it occurs to me that no one on this train will ever return to normal, because normality is not where we left her. But who’s to blame for what we’re trying?

As if to confirm this unexpected insight into comradely feelings, they tap me on the shoulder. I look up. A man in an Arsenal T-shirt is holding out glasses to me.

Later, safe in the darkness of the Crouch End Cinema, Quatermass and the Pit (1967), an adaptation of Neil’s 1958 teleplay, will be screened. The original version ends with the words of Professor Bernard Quatermass, spoken amidst the smoking ruins of the capital: “Every military crisis, witch hunt, race riot and purge is a reminder and a warning. We are Martians. If we cannot control the inheritance within us, this will be their second dead planet.

I have seen this movie before. Instead, I go to the pub.

Andy Miller author of The Year of Dangerous Reading and co-host of the Blacklisted podcast.