This lady was so short- and I can say that without you judging me for judging her because I am also a shorter person than most- that I’m not even sure how she managed to reach the upper hand rail. She was standing on her tiptoes and balancing, stretched out between the floor and the railing, though still swinging around with the movement of the carriage. So stretched was she, that her belly crept out from the bottom of her shirt and her heels never touched the ground. The best thing was the look on her face, mouth agape, terror in her eyes. She looked like she was zip-lining, not passing from Hyde Park Corner to Green Park.

Well this wasn’t the best observation of the day. There’s nothing like slipping into a crowded tube and sidling up to a seventy year old man who’s casually rocking the same outfit as you. Down to the shoes even. I hadn’t necessarily left the house thinking I’d picked anything particularly man-ish: I was wearing a white linen button down, open at the neck, with worn jeans and brown leather boat shoes. Casual outing. That was clearly suited to an old gentleman. Immediately I thought of my favourite feature in any gossip magazine: “who wore it better?” and spent approximately two seconds deciding that he did.


There’s adding those final touches to an outfit and then there’s full on grooming on the tube. This is a story of the latter variety. Most people I know would reserve the clipping of ones nails and the shaving of ones face for the privacy and comfort of ones own bathroom. Nevertheless here I was, witnessing the nail-debris pinging and ricocheting off the poles and windows of my carriage, and the whir of an electric razor concluded phase one of date-prep. Phase two was a generous dousing in aftershave- for all of us on the district line southbound train, thanks to an odd bump in the tracks which sent the bottle of liquid manliness flying. Eyes watering, I witnessed the final- and previously to me unknown- phase of man-prep: the belly button check. Is this a real thing? If so, I need your emails with explanations as to why. The guy, we’ll call him Fabio, after stuffing his equipment in his backpack, pulled up his shirt and started digging into his belly button, furiously scooping out mounds of fluff. That was an exaggeration, I didn’t see any fluff. But that’s clearly what he was going for, because it took a moment for him to be satisfied with the state of his belly button before gingerly tucking in his shirt. I was dumbfounded by this point, and I know that a couple of my co-travellers were equally perplexed. This is the best part. At the next station he jumped out of our carriage… AND HOPPED INTO THE NEXT ONE DOWN. So he KNEW how weird he was being, total awareness! Which in some small way left me feeling quite forgiving of the entire thing.

WHY. Surely there’s a rule viz a viz pets on tubes. There should be an extra rule about pets on trains when it’s raining outside too, because “wet dog” isn’t a smell that dissipates¬† with haste. And there MUST be a rule about not giving your wet dog their own seat in a crowded tube. I don’t care that he’s been in all of your family photographs for the past twenty years, or that he heroically pulled your niece out of her almost watery grave; he doesn’t deserve a seat! Seats on tubes are the most coveted things in London, always. And people who prefer to stand when a seat is available are liars! Most of the time it’s not even a case of exhaustion that pushed you to desire that grubby-dog-and-rain-juiced chair: it’s the thrill of the chase, the stealth and winning of the thing.

Also present on today’s journeys: Ronald McDonald, a man who had one blue eye and one brown eye, a woman with 4 nose piercings and a phantom farter (that made my life hell betwixt Covent Garden and Holborn).

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