Tap Dancing

I arrived earlier for the tube today, as there wasn’t much traffic on the way in to London this morning. The train arrived and not many passengers, I managed to grab myself a seat and off we go. A guy in the opposite seat was listening to his music though his earphones, could only just make out the beat, however he was really enjoying it as all of a sudden he started tapping his feet to the beat, with an occasional both feet tapping, I bit  like those tap dancers that can do the toe heal beat very quickly. Tappity tap, tappity tap was all could be heard in the carriage and because it was quite, this seem to enhance the sound. The mature woman next to me kept glaring at him, but he was oblivious as he was in the groove man.

Off at my stop and he was still tapping. Up the stairs to my platform for the next train, yep just one more stop and I am out. However the train was busy and I managed to squeeze in and was forced to breath in as no room left to get on, I know I look slim, however at 6.1ft and over 180lbs, I don’t do small spaces.  

I was wearing my double vented linen jacket and on the way home just managed to get on with a bit of pushing, however I got my jacket cought in the door as it closed. I didn’t realise at first, but my jacket was trapped in the door, just a bit. I pulled and pulled and eventually it came loose, but at a cost. The carriage doors are sensitive to being lent on, or moved during the start off. Yep you guessed it, the train came to a sudden holt sending passengers staggering and unbalanced.  I didn’t own up, but the girl next to me was leaning on the door, so I glared at her and she quickly moved her arm. This was fully explained by the driver over the tannoy stating what the sudden stop was and potential cause. Guards on the platform were looking at the carriage doors for obvious signs but found nothing. My apologies to all on the train for holding you up for 5 mins on your morning commute. I will make sure my clothing is not flapping next time.

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Pole Dancing

Quiet on the tube today, able to get a seat when I got on, sat next to someone who was reading the paper, when he finished he folded it neatly and placed behind him on the window ledge. Nothing unusual as most people do this. He then folded his arms and sat back, within in minutes he was dozing, or asleep and was doing that head bob, you know just as you are about to drift into sleep you then sit up straight. He did two or three times and was fighting the “sandman”. Next thing I know he is resting his head on my shoulder, I moved away and he did the head bob, sat upright and then started the process again. Why at 8:03am are you sleeping, what’s he going to be like when he gets to work, will he be sleeping at his desk! However I suppose he could be retuning from the night shift on his way home. When I got off the tube he was slumped in his seat with his head full back and I am sure I heard him snoring.

Ran up the stairs to the next platform just as the train was arriving and able to get straight on. Right in the middle of the carriage a passenger was leaning with his back up against the pole with his feet wide apart to steady himself and was reading the newspaper. In his thirties, smart grey suit and a briefcase between his legs. The rest of the carriage was full and nowhere to hold on apart from this centre pole. The girl next to me was trying to hold on and was tentatively holding the pole by his neck as this was the only gap available. Bit selfish I thought.

I could either hold on above is head, which would have been a bit of a streach, so I opted for a bit of pole dancing. I get on this train for one stop and know this bit of track intimately, the train slows for a signal just as we hit a right hand bend and then sets off again with the announcement of the next station. The same every day. Anticipating the bend and signal stop I grab the pole with my right hand about where the small of his back is, and there is just enough room for a bit of purchase. 

As the train slows and then lurches I swing round to my left with my best pirouette so I am now in front if him crushing his newspaper, but in the right position to exit in front of the door. I offer an apology and see the girl laughing as he stands bolt upright. I smile and the door opens and I fall out with my second pirouette and off up the stairs to the exit. Who thought you could do two pirouettes in a day, and so early in the morning.

Why is it that passengers think they are the only one riding the train and have little or no consideration for other tube users, a bit of empathy goes a long way and not only to the next stop. I can see a pirouette might be coming your way of you hog the centre pole so no other passengers can use it. And it comes without a pink tutu. 

Tennis on the Tube

With the recent rain I endured an interesting journey with a couple of French tennis players, well I say interesting. Got on the train and it was relatively busy and the two French guys got on, both soaked to the skin. Clearly played their match in the rain as each was dripping wet. Now this posed a problem on a busy train as the carriage  was filling up and we were getting closer to each other. I could see that the guy who was in close proximity to them now had a large wet stain on his suit, this was on his shoulder and back from pressing against these two tennis players. I avoided getting wet on my walk to the the tube station by using my umbrella, I have one of those small 20cm folding ones, you know just push the button on the handle and it pops up, and easy to carry. I could see these two athletes were getting closer so I decided to use my rolled up short umbrella to try and keep the distance, sort of surreptitiously stick it out to stop them getting too close. It sort of worked, but holding it a crotch level was probably a mistake as one gave me ” what the hell is that” sort of look, kept looking me up an down, but it worked as they got off at the next stop and I didn’t get wet.

Got to my next stop and changed trains, what is this with men, usually younger ones who can’t sit properly, they want to sit on the edge of the seat, lean back and have their legs out in the Isle, almost laying down in the seat and usually texting on their phone. “Excuse me” I say, he looked up and gave that upward nod of recognition, “I don’t want to stand on your feet mate” he reluctantly sat up and pulled in his feet. I say thanks and sit down. 

This is my stop and Ping,Ping,Ping go the doors and I am out following a mature lady who then suddenly stops at the bottom of the stairs to look at her phone, she gets knocked by another passenger and proceeds to rant in I think Polish. He ignores her as we all do and up the stairs and out with our Oyster cards in hand.

Why is it that people want to stand at the exit to check their phone, or in the throughway when they clearly know people, lots of them will be passing and not to expect to be jostled a bit. Maybe they are all narcissists or psychopaths Who don’t have empathy , or maybe the London traveler has no patience?

The Sandwich There and Back

One seat left on the way in and it was mine, sat next to a very large man to my left and a young guy to my right, all settled and the tube is on its way. At the next stop the young guy gets off and is immediatly replaced by a large woman. Yep I am the meat in the sandwich, I am leaning to my right as the large builder is a bit smelly and sort of cosying up to this large lady on my right, bit heavy with the perfume but ok. She looks at me and I smile, she probably thinks I am trying on on so I sit up straight with my arms between my legs trying not to breath the sweaty or heavy perfume smell. I can’t wait to get off and this is my stop, so out I get and head for the next train, first one full so I have to wait. I get on and ready for action as I only travel one stop. I am out and up the escalator heading for the exit and ready to swipe my Oyster card. A young girl beats me to the gate and then fumbles for her purse, desperately looking through her bag. Why don’t people anticipate they will need their card to exit, why wait until they are at the gate to then start to look for it, she goes to swipe her purse, Nothing happened, she has a purple purse about 5cm thick and places it on the scanner, still nothing, she turns it over and scans again, I am expecting the gate to open and I follow her closely, however nothing happens and I bump into the back of her.

She looks at me and tuts, then proceeds to open her purse to find the card and then places it on the scanner, hurray she through and I follow closely to the exit. She is now weaving left and right to the exit as she is trying to place her Oyster card back in her purple purse, I brush past and I am out and on the way to the office.

The return journey starts well, train not too busy and I am off to change trains and what pulls into the station, well it looks like one of those Disney rides, space mountain came to mind. It was the “night train” London Transport have covered the whole train with a wrap advertising the new night service, Looks cool. One empty seat and I dive for it not noticing my fellow passengers either side. There is this overwhelming smell of urine and a stale odour. I notice the boots first, brown and really dirty with grease marks across the top, the sort of scuffs you might get if you ride a bike and use your foot to lift the peddle to start off. I then look to my right and see a man, what you might say “down on his luck” his trousers were covered in stains and I am sure this is where the smell is coming from. He is wearing a suit jacket which does seem to be cleaner and his long silver hair making a fur collar.(pic above).

I lean to my left to move from the smell and the woman next to me, well halitosis was the first thing that hit me then a smell of damp clothes. Have you ever washed an item of clothing and then put it away and it wasn’t completely dry. When you retrieve it there is this unique damp clothing smell. Phew this was overpowering. Now I know why there was only one seat left, and yep I made sure it was still vacant as I moved to the door to stand. This is my stop and Peep,Peep, Peep go the doors I exit and up the stairs and out, Oyster card in hand.

 I can see the tube having to install larger seats soon for those fuller passengers, signs saying make sure you have your ticket to hand and airfreshners available here. Well I do dream for a better service, one day maybe, one day.

Chicken Wings

On the tube this morning I was able to get a seat as the journey is now quieter with school holidays and workers on annual leave.  I sat next to a large man who was reading a newspaper, his elbows on the arm rests, so I settled down and squeezed in resting my arms on the front of the  arm rest, well he started to play “chicken wings” and was jousting with me. This was something my mother would say at the dinner table when I was home with my three brothers and parents, as boy we would all eat with our elbows jousting with each other, plus argue about who would have the skin off the rice pudding. It was the look only a mother could give combined with a stern bark “chicken wings boys” that stopped us getting out of hand. Why do people want to fight overs a bit of space they have for their short journey, yes I know it is about territory and owning what I’ve got. But really is it necessary this early in the morning?

He settled down as the train got busier, plus he got to the end of his paper, thats another thing, those who read the free paper seem to think they can discard it how they please, yep he just threw it over his shoulder, however not a good shot and it landed on the head of the person sat next to him on the other side. “Excuse me” she shouted and he looked at her, she then said “Don’t feel bad, a lot of people have no talent” Brilliant put down, went straight over his head. At the next stop he got off and I am sure the light levels and balance changed in the carriage, I know the smell did as he was a bit odourus. Time to get off and on to my next train.

On my return journey the train was quite full and standing room only, a Scottish couple got on with their two daughters, the youngest turns to her father and said “why has that man got a silver bar on his tie”? Her father said ” that’s a secret code for spy’s and depending on how many bars he has is how good he is at being a spy, or it could be for when it’s windy it stops his tie from blowing over his shoulder”. She looked at me and then back to her father and he smiled, and she said, “oh dad stop it”  I never thought of myself as 007 but I know I might be little old fashioned wearing a tie bar as this child had clearly not seen one before, maybe they don’t wear them in Scotland, or am I becoming a characitor of a London business man and spy and wearing what is expected.  I do wear a business suit, but no gadgets or guns.

This is my stop and the doors open with that familia Ping,Ping,Ping and out onto the platform for my next train. The train pulled in and I manage to get a seat, I settle in and we set off, a phone rings and gets answered by the man opposite “yeah” said the man “yeah” he says again, then says “fuck me mate, how much” looks up and makes an apology with his hands over his mouth, “for one of them” he says, “it better be new mate” he gets up and gets off at the next stop. Wonder what that was and why it was so expensive, but as a spy I know this but I can’t tell you as I have one bar on my tie. Ping,Ping,Ping my stop Oyster card in hand and out.

Hot,Hot,Hot

First train wasn’t  too bad this morning, did see the girl in the purple coat, well she of course wasn’t wearing it, not seen her for quite a while. Funny she was on the train in and also on the return journey home. Her tattoo sleeve on her right arm is coming on well.

Changed trains and boy was that packed, I am alway courteous allowing passengers off the train first before boarding, there is an unofficial queue system when the train arrives, a bit of loitering near the door and those who have been waiting before you get to board first. Usual thing, stand in the same place every day as we know where the train will stop and know where the doors will open. Start with the usual process and we all get on, bit of a squeez and then “she” gets on with her boyfriend. A bit of pushing which is usually the case until we all settle down, she is still doing a bit of pushing and getting in to place. The train is packed and very hot. She then says to her boyfriend “let me have the paper I want to read it” well you can’t get a fag paper between us but she is hell bent on reading the paper and spreading her arms out, not the smartest idea. I am sure she will read the paper on her regular journey, but today there is no room. Undaunted she sets about a bit of pushing and shoving, and yep I am the recipient. A couple of times, ok but constant, nope not for me. So I say “Do you mind, bit busy today you may have to read your paper later” she says “F off” in a smary way. “Don’t be like that, just a bit busy today for space. “F you” was the reply. The shoving stopped, but she was not happy. I only travel one stop and here it is, so I say “excuse me”. She just stand there staring at me, “excuse me” nothing.  So I move to get past and she moves in the way.

The doors start pinging and I could miss my stop, something I have never done, and that would really piss me off. Back to the football field and the two hand block, get you hands under the opponents shoulder pads and get them unbalanced and walk them backwards. Did the trick and out she goes, no she didn’t have shoulder pads, but holding the biceps works just as well, doors close and her boyfriend looks on and he is leaving on the train. She is now balling, more swear words but who cares. I am off up the escalator, Oyster card in hand and out.

My sincere apologies to the other passengers and to the boyfriend who had to witness this, she was just being unreasonable, plus she was an arse. This is not something I do on a regular basis, and manhandle passengers. I am a calm sort of guy, placid and reasonable. Maybe it was the heat, but what could I do?

The journey home started well, got an air conditioned train, then changed and on to the next one for seven stops. It was so hot, really packed and bloody smelly. Yes I know it is public transport and what do you expect, but some people. 

No decorum, two builders not wearing shirts, sweaty and rubbing themselfs on others, plus one guy who was wiping the sweat from his face then wiping his hand on the handrail. Now this was too much for a mature Aisian women who just went ballistic. “Who do you think you are, this is not a beach, you should be wearing shirts, what’s a matter with you, this is disgusting, I don’t want your sweat on me, your just an animal” kind of rant. She does have a point, what were they thinking. A few polish swear words in return and they get off at the next stop.

she starts again “can you believe it, what’s a matter with them” I agree with her and say ” oh yeah, some people”

I say even if it’s hot wear a shirt on public transport, use to get people coming into the pub with no shirt and expect to get served, they could never understand when I would say no.

Get to my stop and I sort of peel myself off my fellow passengers and fall out the door, looking forward to the rest of my journey home in the car, which is unusual as I loath the traffic jams, however today I can’t wait as it has good air conditioning. Ahhhh. 

Busy Tube

This morning tube was some what eventful, I am crossing the bridge to get to my platform and can see the train had already arrived, so I needed to speed up to make the Train. All the exiting passengers start their climb up the stairs  including a large gaggle of school girls. Not one gives way to allow people to desend the stairs, I am not going to miss this train, so I bellow a couple of large “excuse me’s” and nobody makes way. Ok be like that, so I start with a couple of “thank you” and begin pushing my way through, it seems to be like a swam of lucusts consuming anything in their way, still nothing so the pushing technique I learned on the football field comes in handy, a bit of defensive blocking soon sorts them out and I am now on my way to board the train, door beeping and just as I get there they blood close. However thank you Mr train driver as he clearly sees me and opens the doors, with a thumbs up to the driver I get on the train. The driver gets on the tannoy and says “can you move down the isles please” then says “thanks for the thumbs up mate, well appreciated” a slight titter breaks out in the carrige and I find myself blushing, ah well I say what goes around comes around.

At the next stop a young girl gets on the train on crutches and stands at the end of the Isle, no one looks up, so I say in a loud voice ” are you looking for a seat” not one person gets up, apart from a mature woman who says” would you like my seat love” , so i say ” I am sure there are more able people who would rather give up their seat” nobody moves. Those sitting in the reserved for the less able just ignore my request, so I use the teacher / parent voice and say “you, get up and allow her to sit” reluctantly the young girl gets up and fraines  a smile.

The girl on crutches thanks me and the girl who got up gives me the ” dagger stare”. Whats a matter with people, what about some humanity for those who need a little help. I seem to be on a crusade, not the sort of religious one, but do the right thing one.

I exit the train and on to my next platform. The train arrives and very busy, just enough room to get on, but not quite, so I say ” can you move down please” nothing, so I say “hello” “yes you” can you move down please, and yep there is enough room. I glance around the carrige and see one of my employees starring at me, ” good morning Mark” I say he laughs and say ” this mornings a bloody nightmare”. We get to the next stop and I look for him, but as usual I am running up the escalator and out, Oyster card in hand.

I get to the office and later visit the basement offices and I am greeted with a few laughs, and one say I heard you were commanding the carrige this morning, you should have been a policeman with your authoritive voice.

Huh, they only know the half of it.

Chelsea Flower Show

The train in this morning was nothing special, just the normal jostling for space and a couple of smelly people, and these two students dressed for end of half term at school, however the journey home from Sloane Square. Well where do I start; nobody knowing where they are going, what platform to get or what train. All bearing gifts such as new plants or some ironmongary for the garden and all trying to get on the tube.

It was relatively busy and I just managed to get on, the train started with a jolt so I put my hand up to grab the overhead bar to steady myself. The next thing I know the woman I was standing next to just grabbed my arm and pulled it down and stared at me. “Why did you do that” I asked, no response from her so I asked again “why did you assault me” she replied ” it was across my face” I was on the verge of giving her a shove or shouting loudly in her face, however I thought I am bigger than this. She was Arab in origin and probably in her forties and as we say “up her own arse” what do I do, should I let her get away with it, give her a right uppercut, no I just moved down the carriage.  She got off at the next stop.

 I say don’t use public transport if you don’t like crowded carriages or close proximity to people on busy occasions such as the Chelsea Flower Show.  I get to my next stop to change trains, still seething. While waiting two of the mature something regular attendees of the show came up to me, how do I know. Well wearing gabardines, hats and carrying  sponsors bags gave it away. “Excuse me” the man said, I am thinking which train or platform are they after. He said, “liked the way you handled that Arab” not sure what to say, but blurted out “thank you” she said, “if that had been me I would have stuck her with my light holder” showing me her recent ironmongary purchase. Somehow I heard “light sabre” and let out a big “ha” “sorry I though you said light sabre” she replied ” she did remind me of Jabba the hut” very funny, one, she knew who Jabba the hut is and two, the quick as a flash response. That made me smile and laugh all the way home.

My train arrived with an uneventful journey to my next stop. Oyster card in hand, up the steps and out.

 

Tube Etiquette

Is these such a thing as Tube Etiquette, is there a book or should I write one. Or is it just good social skills required. Why do I ask, well waiting for the train today having just missed one, the platform was relatively empty so stood close to the yellow line waiting for the next one. I stand in the same place as I can now guage where the doors stop so I can then exit at my stop close to the platform exit. Lovely morning, sunglasses on, nice breeze and here comes the train, stops perfectly and the door is directly opposite where I am stood, couple of passengers get off and I am about to get on when Gary Robsons mum just barges in front of me and gets on. 

Now who is Gary Robson, he is the child she has hold of by his shirt collar and dragging him in the carriage. How do I know it is Gary Robson, well he has his name on tags that are on his socks, shirt, cap, blazer and probably his underpants. There was no “excuse me”,  just an elbow to the ribs. 

Well for Gary’s sake I did not confront her. We are getting off at the next stop as this is where Gary goes to school  as I recognise the green and red uniform. Gary’s mum now has him by the neck and is pushing him though the crowded carriage with his backpack in her other hand. These two weapons make the crowd part easily and she off up the escalator. I am close behind and she is blocking my path. Now I understand the Tube Etiquette is you stand on the right to let others pass, not Gary’s mum with her hands full with her lethal weapons.

We get the the top of the escalator and we are off to the the barriers, as always I am ready with my Oyster card to scan and out. Gary’s mum can’t find her card, so this is my chance to get past. There are at least six barriers empty with the green lights beckoning, she is heading for number one stall and so I go for number two. Now I assume that Gary will follow his mum into number one stall, but no he heads for number two and nips in just in front of me, I had already scanned my card so me and Gary exit together.

Mum is still searching for her card and now Gary is on the other side of the barrier, Mrs Robson now finds her card and now she out. However the station attendant spots what happening and comes over and stops her and he makes Gary go back and scan his Oyster card so TFL can get their travel fare, quite rightly.

As I exit the station I can hear Mrs Robson protest loudly about Gary having to pay and “how could they” type of statement. I say what goes around comes around Mrs Robson.

Push & Shove

With the warm weather the welcome breeze from the open window is always is something to look forward to, however first thing in the morning it can be a little chilly. I am usually stood at the end of the carriage on the morning run and right in front of the window. A couple of times I have closed the window as the train can get up a bit of speed and the wind can be cold. About half way through my journey today a passenger gets on and opens the window fully and then sits down about four seats in, not an ideal place to get the flow of air. I am stood to the side of the window perched on those seat bumpers and out of the way of the full force of the breeze. As the train sets off not too bad but as we gain speed the young girl next to me gets blasted, she has long hair and Its now going every where, just like the long haired dog with its head out of the car window. I am sure if she faced the window she would have better control of her locks. We are now being lashed with fine stands of blond hair and  She desperately trying to keep it from her mouth and the rest of us are trying not to laugh at this impossible task.

Enough is enough, so I close the window, she try’s desperately to control her hair and smooth it down and out of the blue comes a voice, ” can you leave the window open”, yep is was the girls who got on earlier. By now the carrige was filling up and we are now doing the foot dance. This is where you have to place your feet around the other passengers feet and we all shuffle politely in silence to give each other space.

The girl with the her new windswept hair style gets off and is replaced by the girl who opened the window originally. She opened it with force and loud clang, I said to her “why don’t you stand in front of the open window” and she said, yep you guessed it “it will mess my hair up for work” can you believe it. I let out a loud “huh” and got off the train and run to the next platform.

The  train arrives and if looks busy, a couple of people get off and this is where I must apologise to those in that carriage. Nobody was moving down to allow others to get on, so I ask “can you move down please” nothing.

I held the door open to stop the train moving, there was plenty of room, but this one guy on his headphones was steadfast, not moving. So I shouted “can you move down please” nothing. I guess I could have waited for the next train, but nope. I was still holding the door open so the train couldn’t move, now the guard arrives, takes one look and shouts “come on please move down” still nothing, so with a deep breath I just push myself on and aim for the guy on his headphones and shove a couple of people into him. He gets knocked down the carriage and all of the other passengers look at me. Luckily I am getting off at the next stop, “excuse me” nobody moved, again “excuse me” nothing. What wrong with people, so back to the football technique and left hand push right then right hand uppercut. And I am on my way to sack the quarterback. 

A woman and child get off behind me and she speaks, I thought oh no she is going to berate me, however I was wrong. She said “never known anything like this today, why wouldn’t they let others on the train and then why would they not move to let us off, they were just awful”. “It’s one of those days that people couldn’t care less” I said. “Come along xavia” she said to her boy, now you know she is going to one of those uniformed schools in belgravia.

I run up the escalator, Oyster card in hand and out.

So my apologies to those passengers for my pushing and shoving, I am usually placid, but come on have some thought and empathy for your fellow travellers.