Much Ado About Nothing
At best, it can most probably be accurately described as one of those more avoidable moments where politeness and etiquette collide with the same startling 'wump' of an English woman's backside connecting with a smooth wooden chair. Much ado about nothing really. Of course, the incessant, clackety-clack clackety-clack, of his somewhat garish supermarket brogues, as he tapped out what one can only imagine was some sort of nonsensical, if not downright preposterous, eastern-bloc melody, began to annoy long before the 10:15 from Manchester rounded the bend at Carlisle. Steaming merrily away from the delirium of such a vibrant city at a fair rate of knots, the journey up until that point had been good natured and quiet. The door opened abruptly. He reached into his musty tracksuit pocket and deposited the contents onto the carriage floor in front of us with a Lemony-Snicket sneer. I counted twenty-three salt sachets, two of which had been opened, an old Renault car key, chiselled and worn at the nub. A grizzled chunk of Hungarian salami, the inexpensive kind that contains the husks of cracked black pepper, bread crumbs and insidious lumps of bold gristle. A large serrated edge bread knife and something that looked like it had fallen from an ill dogs nose. Siobhan gripped my hand tightly, more out of displeasure than of fear. The quite unmistakable stench of three-day old garlic and urine assaulted my senses as he shifted his weight in order to excavate his other track-suited bottom pockets. An indolent, pimple faced youth seated nearby, pale of face, scrawny of build, most certainly art studenty of nature, sniffed loudly with disdain. His Adam's apple bobbing furiously in mechanical angst. The rotund lady from Enniskillen sitting opposite, the only character in the carriage without those white musical thingies stuffed in her ears, leaned forward, pointed at the mess on the carpeted floor and waited for a response. It came without warning. A large globule of silvery flecked saliva, twisting, changing its spherical shape several times en route, before exploding into a visceral multi-patterned spatter on the rather inviting looking herringbone pattern of her jacket. A veritable rainbow offering of disease cascaded in tiny drips, encapsulating perfectly her clasped hands brooch and all that is wrong with the current influx of steadily arriving detritus, adding hourly to the current displeasurable quagmire at every port.
In battle, the immediate scacchic surroundings are chloroformed into a cyclonic whoosh of testosterone and supplementary pain, both given and received, not forgetting an oozing blast of intoxicating adrenaline that beguiles those nearest to the windmill of body parts whirling ferociously at all and sundry if interrupted. Our track-suited friend soon found himself laying face down on the floor, the rather angry, spat-upon lady now positioning his arm, severely bent, in a seemingly rakish angle. Her very Irish eyes were noticeably not smiling at the time. The pimpled student, arisen and eager to act, his size three foot firmly positioned in an area close to the groin. The spitter, his eyes, by this point bulging and without question registering shock, disillusionment and what must have been a considerable amount of pain. My head turned slightly between the upturned beer can that dripped its contents from his jacket pocket and his apparent lack of winter socks in such inclement weather. Three rows along, a small man, receding hairline, with a Peter Stuyvesant umbrella, carrying a largish parcel bound up in old fashioned brown paper and string, notably blanched at the activity most uncommon in a first class carriage. His portly companion bravely ducked his head back into the large pages of his upside down newspaper and found a vivid interest in the nonsensical crossword he had previously completed. It was left to me to assist my fellow passengers and free them from the troublesome bother of dealing with the now loudly profane assailant heaped somewhat unceremoniously on the floor. Keeping in mind that my attire was more appropriate for our evenings attendance at the opera of course. One does not purposely stride forth with the shit on the shoe of life in plain view for all to observe. Further up the British Rail procession, the driver, a collector of picture postcards and small wooden toys, slowed the train by a deft instep on the brake pedal and the engine began to wind down as it made its way into the intermittent concrete banking of the approaching station ahead.
As we alighted at the small village of nondescriptville, a middle-aged man, notably with an unmistakable penchant for caravan holidays and a garden shed full of daffodil bulbs, made a fuss about the possibility of an elongated delay to his onward journey to Edinburgh. His rather comical middle England accent saw much derision ensue from the semblance of passengers now grouped somewhat animated in the rain. Overhead, grey clouds of puffy cotton wool began to weep as if in in sympathy for the restrained 'spitter' with the supermarket shoes. A somewhat non scholastic peeler made his way to the noisy stramash now spilling out onto the damp asphalt and immediately began to assert his full 5ft 6"of authority. Along the platform I heard the distinguishable pitter patter of the rain as it fell softly upon the receding man and his stringed brown paper parcel. Camera phones containing irrefutable moments of vilipend footage of the spitting man's beleaguered journey through sedate second class carriages were now proffered in evidence to the ruddy cheeked enforcer as his initial thoughts threatened to stall due to the momentum of the crowd now bunched before him. As usual, his glassy eyes fell upon my not insubstantial features. Cogs stuttered, unique metal pins fell slowly into place as he took in my broken nose and overheard my Glasgow accent. Like cheap plastic leaping frogs in a 70s board game, he jumped unquestionably backwards towards a conclusion. His gnarled hand hesitated between his pepper spray and his constantly squawking radio latched by Velcro to his body armour. It was at that precise moment that my phone pinged with a message wishing me a very Happy New Year, wherever I was. Further up the platform, the brown paper parcel had finally split to reveal a large haunch of unsalted fresh gammon. I heard the station masters black Labrador whimper in barely concealed excitement.
Happy Hogmanay, to each and all....
Created & prepared by Chef Files