Once in a while, life becomes almost worth living. Not often but definitely sometimes.
Yesterday, I got on the train at Ladywell station to go into London's exciting West End. Before boarding the train I stepped to one side to let a woman, her baby in a pram and her three other children on first. I'm very polite like that. But it was a mistake. You should NEVER let children on anything ever at any time ever ever. They immediately ran on to the train and boxed a woman into that little area where there's a bit of foam to lean on instead of a seat. They started screaming at one another and generally annoying everyone within earshot while Mum texted. Lovely. The woman, who I guessed was Spanish because she had dark hair and a big flower behind her ear, put her newspaper down and stared at Mum in a way as if to say "Can you control these things, please?" Eventually, once the kids started to run around the train, the "Spanish" woman said very, very clearly "Little bastards". Mum must have totally agreed because she did nothing about someone calling her own children bastards. And bastards they were. The shouting and running went on past Lewisham (as shouting and running always does) until a businessman lost his fucking mind with them.
He shouted at texting Mum. "Can you control your children?", he screamed. "They're running amok and it's very annoying"
Thank God someone said something. It's always me and I really wasn't in the mood. Then Mum came off with the evergreen classic. Oh yes: "They're only children". These might the most horrible words ever and I seem to hear them at least once a week. They're not only children, they're cunts. Awful, awful cunts. Cunts that YOU made, you cunt. But, hey, this wasn't my argument. It was Businessman vs. Texting Mum.
They continued arguing. Really shouting at one another but the kids continued running around. Eventually other passengers joined in, attacking Texting Mum for being shit. She was VERY shit. Then, as the train approached St. Johns, the businessman got up to leave, red-faced with fury. Sadly, Texting Mum was getting ready to get off at the same stop. She called one of her little bastards to come and hold Mummy's hand (She'd had to put the phone away and everything) but as the little girl ran past the businessman something wonderful and unexpected happened: her hair got caught round the button on his jacket.
The doors opened and the little girl was crying because her hair had been pulled. The businessman tried to free the little girls hair but couldn't because she was jumping around so much. Texting Mum then started pulling at both the hair and the businessman's jacket but this just ended up freaking the little girl out so she screamed even more. The "We're about to close" beep-beep-beep of the doors started and there was PANIC. The businessman lifted the little girl up so Texting Mum could try to free the hair without the little girl jumping. She fiddled with it, pulled at it, untied it....and freed it! Just in time for the doors to close.
They had all missed their stop but, worse than that, now had to stand beside one another until the train approached New Cross. They stood in silence. Even the children were quiet except for the tiny sobs of the little girl. Three minutes went by. Three long, long minutes. Then the train arrived at New Cross, the doors opened and they all got off. The businessman hurried away while Texting Mum stood on the platform for a second to get her head together. The train doors closed.
Pretty much the whole carriage erupted with laughter. It was like we'd all been punched by sweet relief. Passengers started actually talking to one another and laughing at what they'd just seen. It was a genuinely lovely moment that pretty much NEVER happens in London, people talking and having fun. Admittedly, it was at the cost of others but...well, it was very funny. It'll be a while before something that fun happens on a train again as I realised when I got the last train back from Peterborough last night. Christ, almighty. They were REAL cunts.
Yesterday, Patti and I decided to have a look at places we used to go to back in 1989 when we were both new to London. Camden Town, Primrose Hill, The Washington Pub in Belsize Park. She used to live in a lovely, big house in Belsize Park and we thought we'd have a peep to see how it was. It looked the same to me but there were builders around so changes were definitely happening. Then the owner of Patti's old house turned up. It was Tim Burton.