Dedicated to my friend on a Special birthday. Happy Birthday Nicola, this one’s for you. xx
We Londoners (I think I’m allowed to call myself that after living here for 30 odd years) don’t like people sitting close to us on London Underground or mainline trains, if we can avoid it. Our tolerance of people being close to us changes as more people board the tube, but the dance that we do is interesting. It goes something like this…
Board the train; look for a seat, a seat where there will be no one sitting either side of us. I’ve said it before, and it still holds true, I like to sit in the seat at the end of the carriage if I can. I don’t like human contact. Well, not on the tube. As the carriage fills up, the reality is that someone will sit next to me. I hope and pray it doesn’t happen too soon, but I must look terribly attractive, because someone always comes and sits next to me, even when there are loads of other seats. The people who do that clearly have no sense of personal space. That or I really am smokin’ hot.
We all seem to have a fear of the centre of the train, too. We tend to congregate around the doors, forcing people who try to board the train closer to Central London to barge onto the train much like a SWAT team on a raid, complete with ramming equipment.
“Can you move down please?” Nudge, push, shove.
“Move along the carriage.” Whack, barge, thud.
These pleas fall on deaf ears, of course. The people standing near the doorway shuffle a bit, but rarely do they move inside. I think, if I’m honest, it’s because it can be such a faff to get off if you are caught in the middle of the carriage or the end where there is no door when the train is still packed and it’s your stop.
There are some other things about travelling in London that add to the interest too. For example, I always forget that I wear my cloak of invisibility whenever I leave my house. I know I’m wearing it because people drive their baby buggies into me, or tread on me, or, my personal favourite, when I am already walking down the stairs (and I do like to hold onto the hand rail going down stairs, I just don’t seem to be able to balance properly otherwise). When I’m halfway or more down the stairs already, why would people start walking up right in front of me and force me to move out of the way, or curse me if I don’t? Well, of course, the only answer is that I am invisible so they don’t know they are doing it.
Last week was a classic. I’d just been to the osteopath, so was at a station I don’t frequently use. I duly waited for the crowd coming off the train to die down and started walking down the stairs. I could hear my train come in but knew I had enough time to get to it. At least, I knew I had enough time to get it if it hadn’t pulled in and people hadn’t started getting off. Honestly, I really understand how people get crushed in crowds; you’d have thought this mass of people coming off of the train was in fear of its life. I only had to travel about two more steps and then about a yard, and I had to do my impersonation of an American Football Halfback going for a touchdown in order to get on the train! This is the trouble with being invisible.
And then there is the music. I seriously worry about the young peoples’ hearing if they listen to such loud music so much of the time. But I think what makes them turn the music down best is when I start tapping my feet and jigging about in my seat. It is clearly not cool for an older person to enjoy a young person’s music. Works every time.
And finally, can I just mention male fashions sense? Or lack of it? Gentlemen, on which planet did it become ok for a man to wear smart business shoes, with red, white and black striped rugby socks, black scruffy shorts and a white tee shirt? Tell me. It is not a good look and whoever told you it was, was lying to you. I know the weather’s been hot, but is that what passes for City attire these days? Shorts, unless they are the Bermuda variety, worn the way the Bermuda police wear them, are a no-no in the City, as far as I am concerned.
Actually, there are some things that should never be worn outside of the house, let alone in the City in my opinion. Jogging bottoms. Socks with sandals. Stained clothes. Sometimes I wish we could go back to Edwardian times….
©Susan Shirley 2014