I’d not seen my bro in ages so I was rather looking forward to getting out of the office, hopping on the tube and meeting him in our lately-usual in Clapham. We managed to squeeze 3 weeks of conversation into an hour and half period accompanied by 3 ales before departing to our separate dwellings. As usual the tube train south was packed full of sullen commuters largely stood hanging from ceiling rails and moving as one like wheat in a field, no seats were available so I stood by the doors with half of South London behind me and read my book. At the next stop a quarter of the carriage emptied in an exhausted corporate sigh and I saw my chance for a seat, just the one, located at the very end of the carriage. To get it I was going to have to move fast, it was some distance away, I did the maths, if I could jump behind the exiting commuters I could use them to stave off the fresh wave of travellers but those currently standing also began to see an opportunity- I had to go now, still clutching my book I selfishly lurched to the detriment of a suit –fuck you Tory boy, I thought for no good reason and 2 young Asian men who just should’ve been faster… Yes, I was home and dry
As I sat down I noticed the smartly dressed blonde to my left, whilst facing forward with her head slightly down, she was virtually white-eyed in order to stare across at me. I could feel her eyes burning into what I thought was my face, I glanced over to her and she looked down, but then almost instantly I could see in my peripheral vision that she was again staring across at me… then I noticed what was wrong.
In her hand was the very same book I was reading… if that wasn’t enough, we were on exactly the same fucking page.
I almost wanted to say something but it seemed ridiculous, besides, I was feeling the effects of a tirade of cold clinical surrealism and presumed her reaction was similarly obscure. The passengers facing us had noticed we were reading the same book and were silently observing this peculiar tableau, one lady was smiling, another bore a permanent expression of lukewarm surprise.
A few stops after the blonde in the suit alighted without a word spoken between us, I discreetly watched her put her book in her bag and leave the carriage to become one with the shuffling tide of tired shoe leather and softly perspiring cotton shirts. I turned the page and headed home.
I’m in a bloody foul mood today.