Monday, March 03, 2008

Last Night on the Tube

People watching in the London underground, is a huge passion of mine and last night was no exception, I stared at people.

There were many drunken revellers on the Central Line after I finished my show and the tube was crammed. Across from me were two slightly drunk but very well dressed Asian boys, they hung sleepily on each other. They were wearing suits and looked exhausted but happy.

Next to them was a young blonde skinny girl who wore a curious outfit. Her red puff ball skirt was topped with a short grey military style jacket, her legs were bare but she had on grey rumpled ankle socks and sharp high red stiletto shoes.

She was passionately kissing a young man who was dressed in yellow corduroy trousers and a waxy type fishing jacket, underneath which he wore a pink cotton shirt. He looked like an over grown seven year old boy, he had such a young face but he must have been around six feet tall.
They both looked liked small kids who had raided a dressing up box and took some magic potion that transformed them into adults for one night only.

The woman beside me stared at them intently. I could see this as I was sat at an angle in the corner seat up against the wall of the train. This woman was blonde and maybe in her mid thirties, her eyes were droopy and she looked a bit drunk, though she was very middle class. I could tell this by her casual Boden outfit, all chic grey expensive fleece weekend wear and smart running shoes. She was reading a photocopied article about ‘Over bite problems and on going treatments’ so I sussed she was either a dentist or someone who was training in that field.

Every now and then she was glance at the big enlarged photo of some unfortunate person’s giant over-hanging top set of teeth and then stares at the young kissing couple.

I wasn’t sure if she was checking their dental arrangement or if she was sad that she was reading up on her job and other people got to kiss and she was left with her work to keep her company on a late night Saturday train.

She looked longingly at them and I felt she was lonely. I may have been wrong, but you never saw the way her eyes clouded and blurred as she watched the couple stroke each others faces. I imagined she was some hard working woman forging a career and never had time to love someone. Or maybe she had recently broken up with a lover.

Or maybe she was planning how to fix the mouth of someone and was taking her work very seriously, even after a late night drinking session she still felt the need to revise her work?

At Tottenham Court Rd the young Asian guys stood up and one almost fell on me as he got to his feet. He apologised profusely and I smiled and assured him I was fine.

Their seats were taken by a fat older man dressed in a big bulky coat who smelled of booze and his middle aged woman friend who wore a bright pink dress and thin blue jacket, staggered up the aisle of the train.
She was very drunk and slumped into the seat, accidently head butting the fat man side on!

I tried not to laugh. He shouted at her and scared the life out of everyone seated in our carriage!

“You fucking dozy cow!” he yelled.

“Fuck you, fat bastard” she screeched as the noise of the train squealing on the tracks joined in, the noise was horrible. The last thing a drunken screaming woman needs is a screeching train noise to back her up. My ears hurt.

The fat man slapped her hard on the face.

Everyone looked away. I gripped my hands together. I didn’t want to get slapped next but I couldn’t bear to ignore the situation. Other people looked at the ground.

“Oi, you cant slap a woman” I shouted at him. People started moving away.

The fat man looked at me through hooded eyes; his big red face was like one of those grotesque Halloween cakes you see in bakers windows in late October.

“You shut the fuck up” he sneered and pointed into my face. The woman held her face between her hands and cried.

“No, you shut the fuck up you big fat cunt, what are you going to do? Hit me?” I yelled back.

He never spoke, he stared at me and I could see he was judging whether to take me on as well. Before he got to work it all out, a big young black guy in a smart suit who was standing near the door stepped over everyone and grabbed the fat man by the collar and shouted into his face “Stop abusing women, hit me you big fucking bully”

The fat man quickly grabbed the woman he hit by the hand and stood up, they both struggled through the throng of people, they side stepped the black man and ran off the train as it came into the next station.

“You ok Miss?” the big well dressed young man asked me.

“Yes, thanks, I am fine”

“Please excuse my language, but that was really out of order the way he was being threatening” the guy smiled.

“That’s ok, I called him a cunt” I said.

“I know and in that accent it was just pure poetry” the guy laughed and sat opposite me.

“Thanks for helping me, I can’t bear to watch a man hit a woman” I said.

He smiled and nodded.

The dentist lady finally stopped studying her over bite problem and stared at the big black man and she smiled at him. The black guy smiled at her and they started chatting. I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying due to the train noise, but they looked like they were getting on fine.

The young kissing couple let go of each others tight hug, they had been locked in each others arms since the trouble had kicked off. Like scared children who were forced to endure an adult world of hate, even if was just for a moment.

I got off the tube train at Gloucester Road, the black man waved and the dentist lady leaned in further to him as the train eased out of the station.

I hope she gets a closer look at those beautiful white teeth he displayed.

Another night in London.

1 comment:

DOGWITHNOBRAIN said...

Lovely Story.
You must have a photographic memory to recall all that in such detail.

I love people watching, I was in the Last Post at Gimlour Street Station last week, and sat fascinated watching all types come in and vie for space at the bar, but nothing quite as exciting as you.

I'm so going to try and learn from you and speak up when someone needs to. You are really v. brave... - or really mental!