Last week, Adrian challenged me to come up with a list of ‘likes’ about London Transport. So, here we go:
Pet Hates Likes: London Transport 2
Teenagers on the bus.
The smaller boys grab the overhead bars, swing off them, asserting their budding masculinity. The girls squeal with pleasure at the sight of glittering blings. Nobody seems able to keep his or her hind legs off the seats. They do not communicate in convoluted, drawn-out sentences, or elaborate idioms. Instead, they emit monosyllabic interjections and organic grunts.
The pleasure of it: Watching Darwin’s theory of evolution and human ancestry played out live before your eyes.
Faces painted with the proud colours of their team. They wear its insignia on lustrous polyester shirts. They chant the hymn of victory, like their forebearers the Saxons, the Vikings, the Celts.
The pleasure of it: A sense of History and continuity. The comforting evidence that the raw, primitive instinct survives through the ages.
Ladies on their way to Ascot.
Tropical birds turn green with envy at the sight of so many feathers and bright hues. A perfect example of women as creatures of nature. Wide brimmed hats shading diminutive frames, like wild mushrooms. Natural bulges of flesh rebelling out of constricting dresses. Brave porcine thigh defying short hems.
The pleasure of it: An animated version of Grotesque Art.
“Mind the Gap.”
Big Brother’s younger sibling warns you each time you board or step off the Tube train. No matter how deeply absorbed you might be in your thoughts, you do not have the added pressure of having to watch where you walk. The voice is always there to guide your steps.
The pleasure of it: The comfort of knowing that Nanny State never tires of watching over you, no matter how grown up you are.
Passengers sitting with their feet on the seats.
The soles of the heels of their shoes, which have kissed the biodiverse London pavements, are now communing with the bus or Tube upholstery. The said passengers swiftly (or sometimes languidly) remove their feet to allow you to sit down. You rest your posterior on the same seat, savouring the London pavements second hand. Later that evening you will plant the same posterior on your bed, which will get to know the London pavements third hand.
The pleasure of it: Enjoying one instance of free germ and bacteria expression before doctors get their hands on that, too.
Women who put on their make up on public transport.
Their make up cases are like Mary Poppins’s carpet bag, full of weird and wonderful things. One by one, they pull out pots, sticks and brushes, and proceed with painting their faces. They grimace into their hand mirrors, as they blend in five subtly different hues of eyeshadow, dab in specs of concealer, and rub in foundation.
The pleasure of it: Watching this spectacle, entranced, hoping that the Tube or bus might suddenly brake just as they are tracing lines with the liquid eyeliner…
When the Tube train unexpectedly stops in a tunnel.
… And remains there for several minutes. The engine falls silent. The air in the carriage grows still and thickens. You become aware of the natural physical aromas wafting from your fellow passengers. You listen out for the voice of the driver but the loudspeaker is mute. Is the driver dead? Or has he been abducted by aliens? When the silence is finally broken, the voice is crackly and distorted. The diction is slurred. A message from outer space. You are none the wiser as to how much longer your ordeal will last.
The pleasure of it: A moment of suspense worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.