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”.