an idiot in london


Monday, 10th April.
Where are ya from?

The Tube is a disgrace.

I had to wait twenty minutes and watched three trains leave Fulham Broadway Station before I could get onto a train, they were so crowded.

I squeezed onto the train seconds before it pulled out of the station. The train was packed, I was surrounded by office workers. I was up at the front end of the carriage, looking back down towards the back. To my right, a bloke in his twenties stood between me and the door with his back to the door. Next to him was a non-descript woman, and in front of me stood a bloke who was invading my personal space. But I was reading his paper, so maybe that was OK.

When the doors closed at Fulham Broadway, I heard a voice from the other end of the carriage say (more like yell) "Mind your backs! Mind your backs!" I couldn't see what was going on, but I guessed that I was about to meet a ticket inspector.

I was wrong. (Anyway, why would a ticket inspector operate during peak hour? Far too much like hard work.) I heard some sort of commotion, a one-man commotion, that made me think that it was no ticket inspector

"I'm from sarff Landun" came the voice. I craned my neck and saw a short, shaven headed black bloke with a rough looking face pawing his way through the crowd. Heading my direction.

(I'll end the south London accent here, just imagine the voice. If you're imagination has been ruined by MTV and commercials, spend the next few paragraphs just looking at your Pokemon watch.)

"I'm from south London." So I'd heard. "I'm from south London." he reiterated in his gravelly voice. "Do you know what I mean? I'm from the south." he declared. Again. I glanced at the bloke on my right. He was smiling. The woman next to him didn't look so confident.

"Look me in the eye. Look at me!" I saw a lot of people looking at their papers, or staring at their shoelaces, but no-one looking at him.

"I'm from the south. I'm not from the east end - I'm from south London."

"Do you want to take me on? I'm not afraid. You - you're not haaaard enough." Pasty-faced English office boy didn't look hard at all. Look away son! Break the stare!

"I'm from the south!" He threaded his way between a few more dark-clad office types. (what's the deal with all the black??) He's now only a metre or so from me.

At this point I should mention that people talk to me. It's genetic, all members of my family attract these kind of people. It's worrying. All the homeless people and the beggars and the weirdos and the half-wits and the Fitzroy supporters and the spruikers and the loons talk to me as I walk by. Is it like seeking like? I don't know. But I'm sure this guy's radar locked onto me.

Surely I'm not far from Earl's Court now? (I change trains at Earl's Court.) He's only one body away from me...he claps me on the shoulder...

"D'you know what I mean geezer?" Blimey he's talking to me. It's not really a surprise.
"Yeah mate, I know what you mean." Agree with him, hope train pulls in soon.
"Ya know where I'm coming from?" He has a gold tooth. Right at the front.
"Oh yeah, I know where you're coming from." Brewery, from the smell of ya.

Just then the train squeaked to a stop, and the doors opened. I was off like a Bondi tram.