This morning, as I tried to return to my paid purgatorium in a bid not to starve, a burly, bald South African man barred my entry to the train station. Here was a hulking solid figure of a man who could probably use my entire body as a toothpick or a dildo depending on his mood. Get any more macho than him and you’d have to climb out of a cave brandishing a rolled up copy of Nuts at a bear.
He politely informed me that I wouldn’t get past him and his eyebrows implied he could bench-press me into submission, of which I had no doubt. He also said the trains were too crowded and so to avoid a Battle Royale on wheels scenario no-one would be taking the train from Forest Gate this morning. He even recommended a bus stop down the road. A veritable Gollum and as courteous as a Michelin star waiter, he was met with feeble protestations from my fellow commuters that sounded more like a chorus of deflating airbeds than it did the defiance of scorned season ticket holders with ‘executive’ littered somewhere in their job titles.
Defeated at the first hurdle, we moodily trudged back out of the station. The sun was rising with the effort of a leprous pensioner afflicted with erectile dysfunction and all around there pulsed a mounting panic in the face of this break from routine. Routine is sacred to Londoners; it’s what enables them to face the degrading conditions they impose upon themselves without engaging in regular rush hour killing sprees or weeping like the children of despots at the denial of a second private island.
Well, routine and cocaine. Copious quantities of cocaine; linger in a bathroom anywhere in central London and you’d think they all have year-round colds given the ubiquitous sniffling that emanates from behind closed cubicle doors. This was 7:55am on a Tuesday and presumably too early for powdered courage, so instead they went back to their self-help podcasts without much fight. The certain predictability of an unpleasant situation like the morning commute is infinitely more valuable than all of the cocaine in the city and helps to preserve harmony in the collective stasis through which we float to our employment-shaped cages.
I was quite resolved to walking to Stratford and braving the underground there, but for kicks I thought I’d take a trip to the zoo and see the bus stop. It looked like a shipwreck with the desolate survivors clinging to a floating clump of debris. They swayed back and forth like a drunken hydra in a gentle breeze as they simultaneously clung to one another to avoid falling into traffic and, repulsed by the human contact, jostled one another to ensure their space on the bus.
Anyone would’ve thought they were waiting for the last ride out of Saigon. It made no difference as the bus was already packed tighter than a porn star’s anus and so it didn’t stop and merely sped on by, chased by the murmurs of anguish that belied a very real fear among stranded commuters who looked like beasts that had lived their lives in cosy captivity, and having been released into the wild were now contemplating self-destruction via their ties.
It was about this time when everyone’s ears seemed to have sprouted a phone. A chirruping of panicked explanations was hastily discoursed to the slave masters on the other end of each call and apologies came stammering out in almost every dialect. It was like watching a man dictating his will to a solicitor whilst drowning in quicksand. This only served to strengthen the will to secure a position on the next life-boat bound for the city, for at the centre of every Londoner’s universe is their job. They usually demonstrate their importance with vigorous marching about pavements irrespective of the other insect-like beings that stray into their path – even when they’re clutching a piping hot latte that cost more than a black market pancreas – who they scold with their eyes for having the audacity to be crushed beneath their feet.
Today was different though – today was London with the face torn off. The smouldering sense of smug satisfaction that usually shrouds the suit-clad somnambulists of our nation’s capital had evaporated, along with their hopes of picking up some sort of super-food bullshit breakfast in a polystyrene box before their pre-meeting yoga session on the roof of their offices. My heart bleeds for them. At least with the tube strikes people were reminded in advance that they’re little more than beetles stumbling blindly across the surface of a mound of shit, but today came with no warning shot – just a merciless gut punch that left commuters clutching their iPhones and their briefcases as the last vestige of familiarity in this brutal, godless world. The illusion of being the special ones at the palpitating heart of the country was lifted and upon beholding their mutual hideousness they promptly died and left a litter of carcasses around the bus stop.
The underground was fraught with a perfumed lust for violence. It was a fist-fight of sideways glances and tut-tutting. There are minefields with more compassion than Londoners in the midst of such an exodus. Reports of the toughness of Londoners has been greatly exaggerated it seems. When suddenly the smooth-talking, shiny-shoed, shiny-faced city-slickers were faced with their subterranean god going all Old Testament on their pampered asses, they fell to their knees begging the forgiveness of the sun who they abandoned in favour of the city. Tomorrow morning, when all is righted and the plague cured, they will have forgotten that they pledged their first-born to the sun-god for the sake of some goddamned movement on the Central Line. And so the suave sense of superiority over everyone and everything will be restored and London dares not to whisper a word about the day it shat its pants over a delayed railway service.
This tale is dedicated to all the foul, myopic troglodytes who stalk about the 7:47am TfL rail service from Forest Gate; the same self-congratulating dirtbags who ooze the kind of satisfaction usually reserved for a man who’s learnt to fellate himself. Go fuck yourselves, it’s always too early in the day for that kind of self-belief; their kind of smuggery would make you think they built London by themselves, brick by brick, whilst blindfolded, after scoring the winning goal in the World Cup with their 8 foot long penis. It was good seeing you become the jellified human colostomy bags you truly are. See you tomorrow.