Lines written on an early tube

A pair of extremely ill behaved children squawked and squealed, whilst a fat man snored. A gentleman who looked the spit of Brian Ferry was loose-tied after a night out shuffled laconically in his chair.

A Japanese businessman with scarlet cheeks and a ruddy mischievous grin, wore a cologne called Johnny Walker. 

The crumple of newspapers competed with the cacophony of children. 

I was placed uneasy and deep in my seat and, despite being on the underground, my sunglasses were clamped to my face. An uninterested chap in his late twenties pretended to listen to his haughty girlfriend jabber on about this evening’s supper. 

A miserable middle aged man seems ready to throw his body on the track; meanwhile, an undistinguished man with a relentless cough and a sniff repulses the carriage. 

The crumple of newspapers competed with the cacophony of children. 

A passive aggressive woman’s eyes stomp up and down the tube demanding a seat. The sweet press of my shaking fingers into my temples works like a momentary alka-seltzer and, despite my neighbour’s body odour, some colour returned to my pallid cheeks. 

The tube stopped and the angry lady’s malevolent eyes darted, the drunk Japanese man swayed like a train, the children screamed, and two old school friends talked sonorously for the carriage to hear.

Some departed and an elegant Scandinavian businessman with a platinum blonde joined the sardine tin.

The blonde was wearing a badge that denoted her pregnant state and a troop of middle class men indulged themselves in their morning papers and strained their eyes away from this child in utero.

I, the paragon of virtue, offered the 8 month-in lady my seat and joined the silent angry mob standing. My head throbbed like a Sunday. An armpit rested in my face, halitosis rained onto my face from a lummox of a man’s deep exhalations, and the racket from someone’s headphones taped at my brain like a chihuahua’s inadequate bark.

A cold sweat and nausea overtook me. At least the pregnant woman was content. The heat became stultifying and the mass of humans began to make me feel as if I was a Roman soldier at the battle of Cannae. 

Like a cat, I manoeuvred myself to the sanctuary of the large glass pane next to the sliding door – a glorious position for a man on the tube – and began to unravel my newspaper.
In an instant, all the air from my lungs emptied with the vigour of a cannonball. Flabbergasted and rattled I looked for my assailant but with no breath I was unable to complain of this thuggery. 

As if to rub salt in to this old dog it was my arch nemesis that smashed me like a frail egg. The dead sweat in my teeth sat unkindly amongst my dry gasping mouth.

It was the backpack, in fact, it was a brace of them. A two pronged attack! 

The backpack wearer in the tube has the brains of an amoeba and the spatial awareness of an elephant in a lift. Often they have a pair of luminous headphones on, feeling content to boom tinny ‘house’ ‘music’ to all. 

My breath returned, however, so did the gangster backpacks – my shambolic self the victim of assault and backpackery! 

The owner of the bag remained blissfully unaware of her breathless victim, who she left crumpled like a horse at the Somme.
Lamentably this was not my first incident with a JanSport. TFL must surely outlaw the offending sac a dos. it is imperative to do so. Furthermore, if they don’t, the harsh reality is that the next hungover chap lying prostrate on the floor might be off to meet Him instead of his scrambled eggs.


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