Friday, 24 February 2012
The Giant White Basket
I miss a tube due to an overcrowded platform. I'm at the edge of the platform and would have squeezed in but a French trio want to travel together so wait for the next train, blocking my route and giving the boarded passengers an extra inch of space for their £400 a month tickets.
The next train arrives 45 seconds later. Already annoyed that I have been set back by almost a minute I am further irritated when I see a space I had spotted is in fact filled by a giant white basket.
In the unlikely event of me being shopping for white baskets in London during rush hour I am fully sure that instead of dragging said giant white basket through thousands of shoppers, tourists and commuters I would find the nearest pub, possibly Match Bar or that place across from Debenhams that I always forget the name of, and have three beers and a bowl of chips and wait for everything to calm down again. Anyone who wouldn't do likewise is simply uncivilised in my opinion, and an idiot.
Adjusting quickly to the basket disappointment I find room alongside the yellow hand pole on the right-hand-side of the train. A man is asleep in the corner seat and when I stand a certain way his resting leg is nestled right between my standing ones - with touching. He looks quite tough and the possibility of him being offended by our intertwining limbs is real, I make every effort to adjust my stance but leg space is premium.
Squeezed between me and the door are the French three from the platform. Two girls and one guy. One girl is pretty, wears a hat and has a lip piercing. She doesn't say much. The other two natter away as if there aren't another 820 people in the carriage. He is dark haired, is in his early twenties and has typical Gallic features. He's wearing very skinny black jeans, a Mac and battered Vans. The other girl, who seems older than the others, looks like a prostitute.
Back to him. He has dreadful fingers. Red marks and missing bits of skin surround his finger nail cuticle area. He nibbles at them constantly, not in an embarrassed, fidgety way but in an almost urbane one, like he's smoking a Gitane or tuning a trombone.
And so it is, the model, the musician and the whore are crushed by the door and I'm playing footsie with a possible goon-for-hire in the corner. I'm thinking my usual rammed-tube thoughts, unemployment, West Cork, Australia, and they're chatting away like they don't have a care in the world. They probably enjoy crowds, the young.
They speak constantly, about what I don't know. I have no French. He mentions Seven Seesters so I assume they're visiting an exhibition of some sort in Seven Sisters, or an orgy.
We arrive at Kings Cross. Mother tube usually sheds a few of her litter here so I'm confident that soon I'll be able to free myself from my tryst with Sleeping Beauty.
A woman, short and a little frumpy with her hair tied back too tightly, picks up the giant white basket. It reaches from her thighs to her throat. She moves from the centre of the aisle in my direction.
As she approaches me I move as far over to the other side and kind of squash up against a man in a suit to allow her room to pass. Internally I sigh and bitch and moan as I do this but I also afford her a polite smile as she passes. She doesn't respond.
Now her only obstacle from tube to platform is the French. They are chatting as before. The man is facing the woman with the giant white basket. He sees that she needs to pass. He must know the doors are going to close. He doesn't move. He stands firm. He stares at the woman and her basket. This lasts for a two tenses seconds.
The sleeping ruffian has woken up and is smirking with his friend (also rough) at the impasse before him. Everybody else in this part of the carraige stares.
What a prick is my first instinct. Obviously. But then I think, this type of thing must happen in cities like New York, Moscow, Rome & Paris all the time. Cultures where less of an emphasis is based on the British idea of politeness. I, afterall, think this woman is a total idiot for even considering carrying a giant white basket on the tube and would love to tell her so so maybe he's right and we're wrong, how else will the morons learn? He is wrong though, and a knob.
The woman blinks, lets out a small sigh and goes for it. She simply barges through him. Giant white basket first. And with that she's gone. Off the tube. The Frenchman doesn't react and casually goes back to his conversation.
The rough guy in the corner gives his friend another smirk and our eyes meet. He knows our legs have been touching I think.
"Mind the closing doors" the voice announces.