To the couple that taught me the meaning of xenophobia

I was on my way up to London to collect my partner from a weekend she’d spent in Brussels with an old uni pal who works at the European Parliament, and as I strolled down the mostly empty train I passed a foursome of young people like me. They were chatting to each other, excitement in every animated gesture and expression.

They also weren’t speaking English. It’s London; it happens. Maybe they’re tourists; maybe they’re not. It’s not important why; just that they were.

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A feeling of alienation

Things only seem to happen to me on the train home.

Today the train was bad. Not because it was packed – it was – and not because it was hot – it was – but because there was some malaise in the air. It festered overhead and underfoot, a sort of ultraviolet smell that had everyone on edge.

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Be Honest

This is a return to a slightly more “regular” tone for this blog. It may shift back and forth. It will probably shift back and forth. Here’s something that happened to me today.

I have a love-hate relationship with commuter trains. I can’t stand the way we’re packed in. I can’t stand the studied indifference of people who board and don’t move down. I can’t stand the soggy heat of too many people standing, perspiring, breathing hot damp little breaths.

But sometimes you wriggle down the aisle and find yourself a gap, because each row of seats has a handle on it. You can’t stand between the handles, as there’s nothing to hold on, so if you inch down the aisle you can get a decent half-metre on each side of you. And – bonus pleasure – you can nose into what your fellow commuters are doing.

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