Sitting on the tube is a solemn affair, and that’s the way Londoners like it. But I have seen another way. Normally, anyone not avoiding eye contact or just quietly reading quite frankly has some very serious answering to do. Those are the rules. The rules state that you must ignore the person wedged up against you in the corner like a conjoined twin. The rules state you must ignore the armpit resting obliviously just inches from your face, lest you snap back into reality and realise how ridiculous the whole escapade is.
But I tell you what, it’s weird what can bring people together.
As I sat on the tube this morning and perused the faces of those on-board, nothing was clearer than the passenger’s loyal adherence to the rule of disassociation. They looked bored and empty. People kept their eyes down. One Chinese girl sat idly cutting her fingernails and flicking them to the floor in front of her, while the man sitting opposite her openly flouted the rules by acknowledging her existence and peered back with obvious disdain. Forgetting myself I momentarily caught the eye of another passenger, but as we both realised what we were doing, our eyes scurried away like frightened creatures. Such mutual intimidation.
But as the passengers sat there whole-heartedly trying to convince themselves of their solipsistic existence, the formal silence was broken by an erupting roar, and as I looked across, a boy of about 17 vomited a green liquid onto the floor in front of him like a fountain. The fibrous liquid floated about in the middle of the carriage as the boy jumped off the tube, only to carry on throwing up on the platform outside, with everyone onboard watching through the window.
In my opinion this should have been heralded as a momentous moment in the social history of London, but alas it will never be reported by the papers nor announced by politicians. The sole indication of its occurrence lies here, in these words, in this blog. For what had previously existed as a disunited carriage of people, at once became imbued with a warming sense of camaraderie and team spirit. Eyes that had previously only met with challenging contempt, could no longer contain the outbreak of wry smiles. One by one each of the sombre passengers slowly looked up and began to grin. AT EACH OTHER!!! I mean I felt like saying “wait just one moment, what the hell is going on?”, but even I am not cynical enough not to embrace such a moment of togetherness. People were actually interacting with one another. A feat previously only an injured fox could accomplish.
As the train began to roll away and gather speed, the puddle of liquid began to slide and crawl down the long gangway of the train. Suddenly everyone was lifting their feet, squealing and anticipating the next movement of this free floating liquid on the train floor. They were laughing. And with that the spiritless morning commuters were animated into life. The sick became a shared distraction which brought a slightly perverse and grotesque joy, and the thrill grew as it continued along the gangway to eventually puddle around the shoe of a woman who hadn’t spotted it coming. A shimmer of their old deviant selves was revealed as they each watched with satisfaction as the puddle continued to grow.
Sadly one passenger didn’t feel the shared excitement and hurriedly tried to jump off the train before the doors could close. Scared of a little sick. I wasn’t worried. Let him go. It is those like him, people who are unable to recognise such a profound event as this, that evolution will eventually with time expunge and the city will in time excreate. For that is the natural order. Unable to stand the test of the city; may they kneel relegated amid the ranks of lesser men.
But for us, the willing, we will allow such moments to bring us together and become stronger people. To allow such moments to spread a little joy in the otherwise mundane motions of our daily lives.
I learnt a valuable lesson today. I learnt a little something about human nature and acquired a little trick to hide up my sleeve. I know that the next time I’m in a difficult or awkward social situation, I’ve got just the thing that will bring everyone together and make things alright.
I’ll throw up in the middle of the room, then just sit back and say “It’s alright my people, there’s no longer reason to feel disunited and apart. We can come together as one…….. and look how it puddles around that stupid woman’s foot”.
I recieved an email from Sophie’s Steak House informing me of the great events coming up this Easter in the local area. As well as a ‘cheeky’ little egg hunt along the Southbank, they are expecting a crowd of around 25,000 to attend a free performance of the Passion of the Christ in Trafalgar Square. Playwrite Peter Hutley said “The crucifixion is a gruesome event – it’s an absolutely horrible thing. Let me say that the play pulls no punches”. James Burke-Dunsmore who plays Jesus said “Since I started playing Jesus in this adaptation eight years ago, no one performance has been the same….Never have I got on the cross and felt mundane”. I wouldn’t have thought so. “Oh God… (sorry dad), not again. Up on the cross I go”. Imagine that was your full-time job.
Anyway, Sophie’s were obviously taking this opportunity to extend this invitation so that I may bare witness to the crucifixtion of our Lord…. followed by a choice of one of their 7 steaks, including their ‘outrageous 27oz Porterhouse’.
In their email they say: “On Good Friday you can catch “The Passion of Christ” at Trafalgar Square then stroll up the Strand for Kid’s eat free at Sophie’s Covent Garden.”
Am I the only one who finds this slightly inappropriate?
I enjoy cooking. I’m no masterchef, but I don’t find it too hard to throw a few things together in a pan. Cooking is really a matter of confidence. The confidence to get a load of ingredients, put them together and just see how it turns out. But quite frankly I was just intimidated when I saw this book. It sent cold shudders of impotence down my spine. It seemed to sit on the shelf of the bookshop goading me, as if to say that you or I, despite not having a Saturday morning cooking special on TV, could aspire to create such wonders in the kitchen. The amateur world of cooking just raised it’s game.
I know when I’m cooking above my station. And sadly now that’s my confidence in the kitchen broken. I’ll never attempt TOAST again!
My ignorance when it comes to cars is so deep that getting an MOT feels more like a test of me than of the car. I arrive and almost immediately have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be talking to. Where I’m supposed to stand. Who to hand the keys over to. Do I hand the keys over? Do they expect me to come back later or hang around? No one really says much to me and I stand there looking awkward. I’m out of my element.
After a time I’m ushered into a viewing area/waiting room, and I stand there surrounded by mechanics and middle-aged cockneys talking about cars, their mothers and their health.
“Yeah well they can do all sorts with your heart nowadays can’t they”. Yes indeed they can.
The point is I’m terrified they’re going to say there’s loads of stuff wrong with the car, fail it, and whack £400 on the bill.
“Yeah so you needed a new injection valve and wheel sprocket. That’s £80 for the parts and £300 for labour. Oh yeah and call it £20 for the washer.”
What can I say to that. I can’t admit that I haven’t got a clue of what’s going on around me. So instead I stand there trying to look like I really know what everything’s all about, giving off an air that says “Just try to rip me off and I’ll know in a second”.
The problem is that after 15 years of life my car looks like it’s going to fall apart at any moment. It looks so knackered that I’m almost reluctant to put it in for its MOT in the first place. At 70mph down the motorway the steering wheel shakes and vibrates like a pneumatic drill. The windscreen washer sprays out at an angle which completely misses the windscreen, going over the top of the car spraying the windscreen of the car behind. The passenger gets a nice draught of air down their side where someone once attempted to crowbar their way in; and failed. And the front of the car is covered in dried cement from the time I came back to find that builders had built scaffolding around my parked car, and carelessly threw their cement around like it was Art Attack.
As I wait, peering out the window of the viewing room and watch the mechanic and his mate stare at various parts of the car in amusement, two of the Men leave the room talking about a recent funeral, leaving me with one hardened-cockney and his meaningless banter. He may as well be talking a different language.
“Sounds like their blowing the cobwebs out d’unt it. Only braught it owt the garage this morning. Found out I needed new O’s for it though.”
I nod and smile in bewilderment as I feign understanding.
“Yeah, needed new O’s. Typical I’nt it. It was fine last week then this mornin it needs new O’s”
“Yeah typical isn’t it” I offer in echoed response, when what I should really say is “I haven’t got a clue what you’re on about mate!”
And then we sit in sustained silence until he leaves to check on his car.
Eventually the mechanic comes in and says “Ok, so my friend” (I’m his friend, everything is going to be alright) “your car actually looks in really good condition. I mean apart from a little minor rusting and that weird windscreen washer” (shit he’d noticed) “it looks fine.”
I’ve got to say I’m pretty smug. Damn right the car is fine. Of course it is. I mean look at this baby. And so I pay the man in cash, get into the car and reverse out of the centre in one swift move, with one arm behind the passenger seat and the other hanging out the driver side window. Slick as shit and road worthy for another year!