0801 hours…. The Freak Box….
I’m in place. Settled.
Punters rush on and the carriage fills up fairly quickly. I have a seat so I’m happy enough and care little for the standing. Harsh? no… we all think the same… We all rush for seats, we all want the space, we all pretend to be asleep….It’s the tube way, it’s accepted. If you are wearing a “baby on board” badge you can have my seat however if you aren’t and look like you could be then I ain’t risking the offer and the verbal. Old ladies, if you can stand and feel you can deal with rush hour then you can suffer like the young…not my problem.
I appear to be the only man in this entire section of the carriage. Should there be some kind of apocalyptic event at street level during the journey, humanity will survive in the tunnels due to me…. They all look healthy and of child bearing age and I’ll be happy to deliver the goods for Queen and Country… I’m a Patriot…I fancy a Knighthood but I’ll settle for a medal of some type though. A ‘VC’ perhaps with a the legend ‘The Father of the Nation’…..
Anyway, to my left and opposite I see my pet hate on public transport. It happens a lot on the tube and the bus…. Women doing their make up. The blonde next to me is on eyes and lashes and the brunette opposite is doing blusher and lips… I could be walking through the ground floor of Selfridges on Oxford Street but I’m not. I’m on a bumpy, sweaty train banged out with people.
Why do women do this? When did it become acceptable? Would it be acceptable for me to whip out a toothbrush or a nose clipper…. I think not. What would be the male equivalent? I can only assume it would be shaving.
A couple of months ago I witnessed a bloke in his 50’s wearing a suit, riding up from the the escalator from the depths at Chancery Lane using an electric razor. He was oblivious to the fact they he was covering his fellow travellers in his shearing’s that were being wafted about…. filth bag…. That was as disgusting as the time I saw a builder sit on an early morning bus eating a cold roast dinner out of a Tupperware container on his lap. It was a horrendous. He used only a spoon and drank the solidified gravy by tipping the container at a corner into his mouth. One Christmas on the Northern Line I witnessed two polish builders drink half a bottle of whiskey in shots over a 25 minute period. They had their own shot glasses and never said a single word….0630 hours…when they departed they merely winked at each other and bumped knuckles… Magnificent effort. I see this kind of behaviour as disgusting and unnecessary but also as eccentric and funny. The make up thing is noting more than lazy.
I also note a comedy T-shirt on an overly nourished young woman to my right. She has a lovely face and doesn’t need a slogan on her chest saying “Keep Calm and Party”. It’s a shame…My hope for her is totally lost when she gets her phone out of her pocket and it’s in a pink rubber case with two little comedy hands coming out the sides attempting to hug the owner….It makes me question Darwin. Her chances of being involved in the country’s repopulation with my assistance are now slim.
It’s getting hot on here now as more and more people pile on… my eyes are at crotch level. Is this what it’s like to be a porn star?.. on a level with belts and flies and only looking up when commanded and even then only in in a sheepish manner? Through the bulges I see a pair of long, slender legs and a short, short skirt. When I say ‘short’ I mean too short… dangerously short for the wearer. I can’t quite see a face yet but I assume its a young girl who is confident, bold, aloof to convention and happy to wear a skirt in public that when the legs are crossed flagrantly reveals a partial buttock…The arrogance of youth…oh the majesty of it all..
But It’s not a young woman…. it’s not a middle aged woman… it’s an aging divorcee who’s ‘giving it another go’. I know I’m the least fashionable man on the planet…I’m jeans and a fleece bloke not Gok Wan but I know that isn’t the garment for her. I scan her face. She seems uncomfortable and perhaps slightly panicked. She knows it’s a mistake but she’s committed to it….. Fuck it.. who am I to Judge? Is she happy?…good luck to her, I wish I had her guts. Godspeed tube princess!!
I get to work to find I have to go back on the tube to assist a colleague in speaking to a liar about another, bigger liar… I know the route and it’s not great. It means the Central line.
The Central line is boiling hot. We get on the train and although fairly roomy the heat is unbearable. It’s like getting off the plane in Malaga in reverse. That moment brings joy where as this brings misery.
We stand by the door next to a big, big lad in a shirt and ‘moo moo’ sized knitted tank top. He is sweating like a pregnant nun….a terrible sight, a mess. I notice something in his hand , light Blue and with an absorbent quality…. he’s carrying a flannel. It’s a sweat flannel. He’s taken steps to combat the leakage by mopping himself down as we trundle along with a towelling flannel. Has it come to this? We used to rule the world…..
Flannels are horrendous items at the best of times. As a kid I remember then rotting in bathrooms and never fully drying out. Worse than that was using a warm one that had been used in the last 10 minutes…. It could have been anywhere. They are an icon from the 70’s like Imperial Leather in bar form. They ooze BHS Christmas presents for your Dad….stuffed into a comedy mug in a gift pack. All wrong…so wrong..
I used to play football with a bloke who brought a flannel and soap in a dish into the shower at the end of the match. He was in his mid twenties and had a special bag to transport them in. When he used it to wash himself it flapped about like he was fighting a bat.. He was an accountant. The classic weekend warrior I felt compelled to apologise to the opposition for. He was the flannel demographic… the flannel advertisers dream….
‘Flannels’ for the accountants who bathes. That is the advert!!
There is no place for a flannel on a tube train or a bus and I don’t care if you are hot and sweaty…deal with it in some other way. Sweat out like the rest of us. If you think carrying a flannel around as a sweat mop is acceptable then there is no hope for this country…we might as well hand over the keys to the flannel users and roll over…The flannels must not and cannot win…
This country sickens me….