Friday night at 10:00 pm-ish – The Victoria Line – King’s Cross/St Pancras
Two young men, about twenty years old, jumped onto the Tube just before the doors closed.
The taller one, who was wearing hipster glasses, apologised for bumping into another passenger in his hurry to get on board. The passenger didn’t acknowledge him. As the two young men moved to the end of the carriage, the tall one said very loudly for all the carriage to hear “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m from The North. I forgot that London people don’t talk to each other.”
Three forty-something-year-old women started cracking up laughing. One of them said to the young man, “You can talk to us, love. We’re from The North too.” The entirety of the following conversation was more than loud enough for the whole carriage to hear.
Glasses Guy: “Where in The North are you from?”
Middle-aged woman: “We’re from Newcastle”
Glasses Guy (gesturing to the other shorter guy, who hadn’t said anything yet): “John has a friend from Sunderland”
Middle-aged woman (cackling): “Does he have eleven toes?”
John: “I don’t know how many toes he has, but he has a tiny penis. I don’t know if that’s a Sunderland thing.”
Middle-aged woman (crying with laughter, pointing at one of her friends): “Her husband is from Sunderland. She can tell you if that’s a Sunderland thing.”
Other woman: Blushes and guffaws.
Glasses Guy: “I haven’t been in London since my parents took me here on holidays when I was a child. Where are you going?”
Middle-aged woman: “We have a hotel opposite Victoria.”
Glasses Guy: “We’re meeting a friend at Brixton. He told us that we just have to get off at the last stop. [Turning to the rest of the carriage] Is Brixton the last stop?”
All the Londoners look intensely at their phones. I briefly meet his eyes and say “Yes.”
Glasses Guy: “A talking Londoner!”
He carries on talking to the women until we get to Victoria.
After they get off, we have four more stops with the two boys. At each stop, Glasses Guy greeted each passenger boarding by saying “Welcome to the Tube!” They all hurried to their seats, which just so happened to be at the opposite end of the carriage from him. And as the train leaves each station, Glasses Guy declares to the whole carriage: “It’s my first time on the Tube without my parents!” He and his short friend took a series of photos and selfies of themselves on the Tube, looking wistfully out the window, lying on the floor and wrapped around poles like they were Jessica Rabbit.
By the time we got to Brixton, I was sad they would no longer be in my life.