District line, trains close by, bunched up, 1 min, 2 min, the Circle line not fucking up the signals. Get on at Embankment and take a seat and the driver makes some weird announcments but I get out my copy of Glamorama and read it, laughing at points. Please take all your belongings with you, that means all your belongings. Including your litter. I dip back into my book, reading experience fragmented. This is Mansion House, the platform here is curved so please mind the gap. Mind the gap. I look over at Carly, quizzical. “Is he drunk?” I ask. He carries on, sometimes lapsing into something close to stream of consciousness. So you’re probably talking to your neighbour. The art of conversation is dead, of course. You could start a conversation. The best way is with a smile. He starts mentioning what his mother’s favourite was – Ken Dodd. Literally rambling: I spy something beginning with R. S. I bet you can’t guess what it it is. Anyway, it’s now turned green and so off we go.
I am bemused. The chat is almost painful in parts — he sounds partly bored, partly deranged, partly trying to cajole some life into the dead-eyed rush hour on the Tube grimy with London in the air. I start to almost fill in the blanks as he drifts off into intermittent crackle and the volume is too low to pick up over the rumble of the train and the brakes as we pull into our stop. This is Upton Park, a fantastic achievement, where everyone takes their vitamins.
It’s getting dark and we head to the supermarket to get some vegetables, confident that he’ll keep talking to his passengers all the way to Upminster. I picture a man.
Hanging on in quiet desperation/ is the English way…