Being a suburban dweller, I probably spend more time on the London Underground bopping about the place than most people. Probably more than is healthy in fact. Itâ€™s either that, or restrict myself to the insular world of North West London life and Iâ€™m sensible enough to know that that way leads only to madness, potential smack addiction and severe lack of women.
So, in the interests of keeping sane and healthy I like to jump on the train a few times a week, heading to Shoreditch for a few brews, the West End for a spot of Chinese food or Waterloo for a touch of culture followed by a bit of Waterloo sunset promenading along with the tourists, the buskers and the endless stream of loved up couples, crossing the bridge with little care of anything else in the world. Sometimes I go further afield, like last night ending up in the high-rise, high crime nexus of Canning Town, but thatâ€™s another story and best kept for another time.
Like all Londonerâ€™s (even those like myself tenuously hanging onto that tag with a greater London postcode), I have a fair bit to complain about on the tube, but all that has been said a thousand times before and actually I wanted to talk a little bit about the things that amuse me on the tube rather than the crumbling infrastructure itself.
Like yesterday, trying to catch a few moments of sleep on the way into Baker Street and these two Asian kids sitting on the aisle opposite are shouting out their conversation for all to hear. It was the age old conversation between two guys where one of them is going.
â€œYeah, I been seeing this girl for a month man, she works for Harrods as an Assistant Manager blad, sheâ€™s got her head locked on man, you know sheâ€™s cool.
and his slightly more cocky mate, who thinks heâ€™s seen a few things is going.
â€œYeah, but have you banged her man?â€
â€œNah, man I havenâ€™t, you know sheâ€™s not like that. Like, she ainâ€™t like other girls you know, sheâ€™s, ah, you know, I dunnoâ€¦â€¦â€
â€œBlad, a month â€“ I wouldnâ€™t be waiting two hours, blad. Seriously, my girl , Iâ€™m going to see her now, man. When I get there she got dinner ready for me and everything. And when I finish that, you know sheâ€™s going to be rolling me up a spliff and then you know weâ€™re going to be heading to the bedroom.â€
Mr slightly less cocky, has got his eyes wide open now, like heâ€™s hearing of the promised land or something, but heâ€™s telling his friend:
â€œyeah, but what can I do man, you know these things take time, you got to pick the right moment, yeah.â€ Fortunately, asian lothario man has got a plan. I was a little cynical about it, but Iâ€™m going to pass it on in case it works for anyone else.
â€œI tell you man, this is what you gotta do. Just go over there now, right and then say youâ€™re like tired right and like go to sleep in her bed, and you know sheâ€™s going to go to sleep with you and then you know you can get cuddling and that and you know take a few clothes off. Before you know it blad, everything going to come rightâ€.
â€œYeah I got to do that man, thatâ€™s a good idea you knowâ€.
Hmm, so much for romance, but good crack for the idle ipod listening Groovernort, slightly more aware of other conversations on this day because his headphones are breaking so he has to twist the wire to get stereo sound.
Itâ€™s not always that way of course. Sometimes people just want to fuck with you. Like two days ago when Iâ€™m travelling back from Moorgate in the day and a couple of work colleagues get on and sit down in the aisle opposite. Now, Iâ€™ve been working like a bastard all morning and I know when I get back to the office Iâ€™ve got to work like a bastard again, so Iâ€™m doing a little time management by eating my beautiful Pret all-day-breakfast sandwich on the way back. I know that the smell of food can bother some people, so I have purposefully picked an empty carriage, but these two new ingrates insist on getting on and sitting close to me, presumably so that one of them can cast harsh gazes at me a few times before muttering loudly to her colleague:
â€œSomeoneâ€™s got the munchiesâ€. and then:
â€œI often wonder whether they should ban food on the underground, but I guess no-one would take any notice anywayâ€. â€“ cue withering glance in my direction
To address these comments in turn, Iâ€™m sitting there thinking â€˜the munchiesâ€™, no I do not have the munchies thanks, itâ€™s lunchtime and I am hungry. I am engaging in that strange and not uncommon human tradition known as lunch. I am eating to survive. I am not stoned, I am not eating bacon bits with icecream and a mars bar. I am eating a sandwich because I need to live. I need to work.
The second comment does it though. By then I feel like this silly bitch is trying to bully me. Trying to make me feel bad about eating my lunch so I start staring at her. Iâ€™m considering living up to her expectations of loutish youth by opening my mouth so she can see my partially chewed food, by throwing the remains of my food at her frustrated pinched face, seeing the bits of egg and bacon dripping down off her cheekbones and straggly hair, obscuring her nostrils and staining her trouser suit.
This seems, a step too far, and I remind myself that my whole aim to start with had been to not offend anyone. To keep my bacon out of the eyesight of muslims and jews alike. So, instead, I just start smiling, I shift in my seat to directly face my assailant, I peel my banana and I sit there grinning, then I get my shopping bag out of my rucksack and crack open a few more items I had been meaning to save for later. A can of shandy, a pack of celery, some cheese slices, a babybel, a yoghurt, a bottle of vegetable juice, some crackers, an apple, a pack of ham. A whole healthy picnic wielded by a grinning man, eating slowly and rustling the packaging. By Wembley Park, the lady looks pretty green, sickened by the mound of rubbish that I make a point of putting back into my bag for efficient and legal disposal later, and I feel full.
My word, what a strange tangent that was to go off on. Ah well, writing that out was quite cathartic and lets face it, I think I may have succeeded in demonstrating that the tube is a strange and amusing place, peopled by lunatics, some of which may possibly include me. Vive next week fellow bolos, itâ€™s only getting worse, but lets face it, weâ€™re getting better.