I can’t drive. Well, that’s not quite true. If, while driving me to an Alanis Morisette Concert, say, you were stung by a bee and being all allergic (“I love buttercups but I have to stay the hell away”) you began to get quite puffy and less capable to drive, technically I could
shunt over into the drivers seat and “negotiate” the controls. I mean, I passed my learners.
When people back home asked about my lack of wheels, my curt reply was – “hey, I’m going to move to a city with public transport”.
A lot can be said against the London transport system, but it gets me just about wherever I want to go, day or night. Sometimes I have to wait a long time and there is
the constant threat of a terror attack – but compared to a teenage-dom without a car, it’s a small price to pay.
Even when something like this happens, yesterday.
I jump on the Tube at Hendon. After making a quick safety assessment of the people round the empty seat, I sit down.
Being tired from a bout of impromptu drinking the night before (a pre-cursor to Will’s birthday this Sunday) I decide to “rest my eyes” instead of reading. I hear someone re-arranging their bags. I open my eyes. A woman with short hair and a dour face is arranging her shopping from Marks & Sparks. I close my eyes again. More rustling. I hear the spray of an aerosol can and smell men’s aftershave. My eyes open just in time to watch the lady give herself another squirt. Strange, I think, she’s definitely a woman. She fumbles about in her bag and takes out a t-shirt. She rips the tag off with her teeth and throws the label on the floor. Then she spits. Like she’d been saving it up for a while. The black lady next to me re-coils.
Usually this is the point where I wait for the next stop, get off and walk to safety, two carriages along - but I stay.
She takes out a pair of neon pink socks. I notice she’s wearing slippers even though it’s ice and sludge and zero degrees outside. Biting the label she kicks off both her slippers and yanks off her existing socks, hurling them in a way that reminds me of a small child who’s bored of its toy. I start giggling. I can't help myself. It's been a long day and I'm tired and hungover. The train starts to slow as we approach Golders Green and I place a finger hard against my lips to compose myself. The lady glares at me. Now wearing her new pink socks, she gives me a final stern look, stands up, adjusts herself and loudly leaves.
I never did see if she got on again a few carriages down.