I got asked to take my clothes off on the tube last weekend.
Well, theoretically the whole carriage got asked – by a rather drunk man with a particularly bad five-o’clock shadow, who decided to bless me by sitting in the seat adjacent. After asking the woman opposite where he needed to get off, he then informed those in the immediate vicinity, and then the wider carriage, that we should all take our clothes off and have a bit of fun. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
You could tell he was drunk – other than the slurring – as in his mind he thought it was clearly possible to coerce a carriage full of people to take their clothes off and have an orgy between the stops of Elephant & Castle and Kennington – a journey of three minutes.
Of course, he got a lack lustre response; a few weird looks, others who imagined a giant black hole had swallowed him up.
Me? Well, I busied myself in my book, taking on that aloof air of someone far too engrossed to be interrupted. (Take home message for visiting London – always carry a book if travelling on the underground, especially late on a Saturday night. Also helps with take home message no. 2 – avoid making eye contact with other people).
Yeah, well, clearly reading a book does not act as a deterrent in the eyes of a drunk as he lent over and said, “Good book? Do you want to get naked?” I attempted to ignore him but the invasion of personal space got too much, so I looked at him incredulously and, as politely as possible, said, "that's alright, I'm more interested in the book thank you". Two-seconds later and crest-fallen he got off at his stop.
But this was not the only weird encounter I had that weekend.
While on an overground train, I caught sight of a rather nice looking chap sitting just down from me. Typically I checked him out – as you do. He didn’t notice me as he was completely immersed in a book – probably a classic; he did carry an old-school leather satchel and wore a scarf – you know, the “cultured type”.
But then, as if to entertain me, he started to pick his nose. And I’m not talking about a little flick to stop a tickle, nor a quick surreptitious in-out job. I mean, this was right up there; excavation-to-the-centre-of-the-earth type pick. And he was damned determined to get that booger too.
My estimation of him quickly changed. So much for cultured.
Not once did he look up from his book; not once did he think people might be watching. He was in his own little world enjoying some author’s literary achievements while investigating the inner depths of his nostril.
After foraging for – seriously – about a minute, he gave up. Whether he was bored or had achieved success, I don’t know (didn’t want to know).
And then, he licked his fingers. Now I know kids do this all the time after picking their nose. I remember doing it myself. But childhood snot is a little different to travelling-on-public-transport-in-London snot. For starters the latter is no longer green when you get off your ride. And quite frankly consuming that, even if we are in a recession, is just not cricket.
So, I wonder what little gems will greet me this weekend.