A moment ago the guy opposite me on the train was gazing out the window, but now he has shut his eyes and folded his arms, and sunk a little into his coat.
On the other side of the aisle are two elderly ladies and a younger woman who, judging by her accent, is Eastern European. She is shouting at them. She finds their conversation offensive. She will not tolerate listening to this arrogant rubbish.
How would they like…?
How dare they…?
What makes them think you’re so…?
Just as the woman slows down one of the ladies says, huffing into her handbag,
“Well. You’re obviously not English.”
And she’s off again. She’s not English, and what does it matter – that is her point entirely.
Just look at how…
How would you like it if…
She gathers speed, reaches some level of optimum dudgeon, then silence.
After a judicious period of quiet the ladies start to whisper to each other again. Then they become more confident. Now I can hear them a bit better. Their chat reaches a normal volume and I can hear what they are saying quite clearly.
“I’ll tell you what gets me: these people who get to the top of the escalator – and stop.”
“Oh. Why do they do that?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“To see where they are.”
“No, they just don’t know people are behind them They don’t think.”
“Oh getting their bearings probably.”
“I’ve seen them in M&S, they get to the top and – op!”
“They don’t realise.”
“Push them over!”
The Eastern European woman noisily shuts book she is reading, gathers the papers she was marking and begins to stand up with demonstrative clatter.
“I can’t work with all this noise.” She steams away down the aisle to the far door and busies herself through it.
The pair wait a minute until she has left the carriage.
“She didn’t like me saying that, did she? ‘You’re obviously not English.’”
“No she didn’t like that one bit.”