The Metro (newspaper)

Before she found out just how close to her house the bus stop was, and the fact that the one bus on that bus stop had another stop right outside her workplace, Paula learned the long way to the ‘underground’ station to go to work. ‘Underground’ because the train travelled completely over the ground on the whole journey from Paula’s stop to work stop.

Paula was thankful for this. It was definitely nicer to travel by train if she could see the light of day while inside the train. Some days, she even brought a book with her that she had got from the library. But she soon abandoned this practice because the journey was so short. Most of the other passengers had longer journeys, however. Some of them got on the train on the stop where she left, before the train would head for deep, central London.

So most of the passengers fought for a sit so that they could comfortably read their books, which they had brought from home, or their newspapers, which they had bought in the newsagents at the tube station.
Until one day all this changed. Suddenly one day Paula got on the train and the scene she encountered seemed taken from a horror movie. No one was reading any book from home, and no one was reading any newspaper from the newsagents. Every one was reading copies of the same newspaper. Every one was holding it in the same way, with both hands. So she could see the first and last pages, all the same, on the hands of every one now in the train. She looked at the name of the paper.


The letters were white on a blue rectangle at the top left hand side of the front page. The papers were the same size as a standard European newspaper, known in this country as “tabloid”, as opposed to “broadsheet”, which was various times the size of a normal newspaper and which was impossible to read all spread out, like these people were reading their papers now, without seriously disturbing the people around.

Paula noticed that herself and the very few passengers who had got on the train at the same stop as herself were the only ones without a copy of this new newspaper. She also noticed that, although they were trying to hide it, the other passengers were as scared as them.

She later knew that this was the first free newspaper given out at tube stations (only her own tube station would take ages to be provided with its own stacks of said newspaper). And that this first free newspaper would inspire very similar ones not only in other cities of Britain, but of the rest of Europe too.

But at the time, she felt first scared at the whole surreal scene, then weird and then slightly annoyed that copies of the newspaper were not provided at her tube station and she always had to rely on other passengers abandoning their copies on the train if she wanted to read it herself. There were not that many copies distributed at the beginning and even in the office it became an item of exceptional sharing, on the days when at least one of them workers had managed to secure a copy of the thing.

Shopping picture

“What, you have been here for a month and you have not gone shopping on Oxford Street?”
Luna and Paula looked at Tilda. Then Luna and Tilda looked at Paula.
“You ‘do’ need some new clothes.”
“I can’t afford them.”
“Yes you can.”
“It is not my priority.”
“Come on, we go to some shops. You look. If you don’t like anything, we stop. Deal?”
“No. But I have little choice, don’t I?”
“No choice, that’s what you have.”
“I am tired. I have been working all week.”
“That’s not an excuse.”
“I ‘am’ tired!”
“You can get a rest when you die. You come with us now.”

Paula did accept that this was a good point. After all the Spanish friends who had left London for good, she had learnt to enjoy whatever company she had while it lasted and try make the most of it. Tilda and Luna would not be in London forever and between staying and resting, and getting more tired walking on Oxford Street with them, she agreed to postpone rest for the time being. It took them about an hour to get off the bus on Oxford Street. Paula had no preference for any particular shop. She just let herself be dragged along.
“See, now ‘this’ is a t-shirt worth wearing at work.”
“It is too nice for work.”
“Then you put them on for parties.”
“I do not go to parties.”
“Paula, you are impossible.”
“No I am not.”
“Do you like this one?”

Eventually Tilda and Luna got tired before Paula had had enough. Eating out was not an option but getting a bus home was.
“Wait, let me take the last picture!” Luna looked at a fixed point and Tilda and Paula followed her glance. Two men stood one on each side of a shop door, each talking on their mobile phone, hopefully each on a different conversation. It was a funny sight and Luna got her camera out. Too late though. One of the men finished his conversation and disappeared into the shop. Far from looking disappointed, Luna looked at Tilda with a smile.
“You have a mobile phone don’t you? So does Paula. Now, you two. Stand on each side of that shop. Good. Paula, look to your left. Tilda, look to your right. Look up, both of you. Paula, not like that. You need to pretend you are talking on the phone. Look, like Tilda is doing. Yes. Now look up again. OK stand there for a bit. Nice. A bit more … OK thank you so much you too.”
Tilda laughed. Paula was not sure what she was laughing at but she had to admit the situation was funny.
“Tilda, you really looked like a disgusting posh model on the phone, and bored.”
Paula expected a compliment too.
“You didn’t look so good.”
“I think we looked just fine. The finest example of rampant bored and empty consumerism.”


In English below

O” yo puedo hacer algo por ti, tú haces algo para algún otro, y ese algún otro hace algo para mí.”
“Y cómo sabes que esos dos están haciendo algo el uno al otro?”
“No sé. Puede no ser importante. Hay un sistema de contar los servicios o cosas que te dan, y qué haces para otros. Así sabes si estás en deuda o no. Pero se hace con una unidad de servicio, no es dinero.”
“Suena un poco como el dinero.”
“Solo que no produce interés, ni puede ser prestado, no hay ninguna ventaja en la acumulación. Y no hay inflación tampoco.”
“Qué decís sobre el taller del comercio justo, cómo fue?”
“Había esta chica extraña. Hablábamos de las dificultades que estamos teniendo como organizaciones de comercio justo, que resultan ser barreras puestas allí por el capitalismo, las instituciones, las corporaciones. Así que de hecho estamos luchando contra el capitalismo. Y esta muchacha va y dice, el capitalismo no es ese demonio que queremos retratar, que no es ese malo.”
“Hmm. No le has dicho nada?”
“Vaya si le he dicho. Le dije, ‘Si piensas que el capitalismo no es tan malo, entonces no sabes de qué va el comercio justo.’ Porque no lo sabes, no?”
asintieron todos y mantuvieron el silencio; Paula se sentía contenta de haber viajado para aprender tanto.


Or I can do something for you, you do something for some one else, and that some one else does something for me.”
“And how do you know, that those two are doing something to each other?”
“I don’t know. It may not be important. There is a system of counting the services or things you are given, and what you do for others. So you know if you are in debt or not. But it is done with a service unit, it is not money.”
“It sounds a bit like money.”
“But it does not produce interest, it can not be lent, there is no advantage in accumulating it. And there is no inflation either.”
“What about the fair trade workshop, how did it go?”
“There was this weird girl. We were talking about the difficulties we are having as fair trade organisations, which they turn out to be barriers put there by capitalism, the institutions, the corporations. So we are in fact fighting up front against capitalism. And this girl just says, that capitalism is not that evil we want to portray, that it is not that bad.”
“Hmm. Did you not tell her anything.”
“Damn sure I did. It told her, ‘If you don’t think capitalism is not that bad, then you don’t know what fair trade is about.’ Because you don’t, do you?”
They all nodded and kept in silence; Paula felt glad she had travelled to learn so much.