Yellow socks and a crush

Commuting. You have to love it. No, seriously, you have to. If not, you leave.

I pondered this earlier when wedged between the armpit of a rather handsome man (he smelt of lovely aftershave too – would it have been wrong to mention this to him?), a middle aged lady, two young men (one rather smiley and the other behind me so I could only hear him) and a young woman. How we all managed to occupy a space of about one sq meter I don’t know, but it’s some special magic applied to the likes of the Jubilee Line at London Bridge.

Middle aged lady and I couldn’t help but laugh as we pulled into Southwark and no one wanted to get off. All we could hear was ‘for godsake’ coming from the equally crowded platform.

Eventually, as we pulled in to Waterloo, someone wanted to get out of the tin can and I had to force my way off, pushing smiley man out and to the platform, moaning as I went that I probably wouldn’t get back on. Smiley did what he obviously does best and smiled back at me. Encouraged by the eye contact of a fellow commuter I asked why we do this. He laughed and agreed and then, when the people had finished exiting the train, he waved me back on before anyone else. Thank you Mr Smiley.

I found this brief mutual appreciation of our hell from a fellow passenger rather soothing. Two stops later and I was even granted the gift of a seat! When I departed my train, I followed a rather jolly man with squeaky shoes and the most amazing socks. Yellow with black dots. I was mesmerized by these and quite disappointed that they weren’t there to entertain me while I was trying not to launch my bag into the sensitive parts of Mr Handsome from the Jubilee line. It’s these little things my friend, that keep you sane when wedged in a train/tube.

I found myself apologising profusely to another gentleman when I squeezed (ok, pushed) myself onto the Bakerloo line. I can’t help but apologise. It wasn’t his fault there was no room. Although having to spend one stop on tiptoes in order to not stand on some other poor man’s feet was, perhaps, a bit too much.

The other dilemma when commuting is hair. Men don’t tend to have this problem, but as a woman with long hair, it’s a nightmare. When you are squeezed between people, you are trapped. If the hair is down, you risk overheating. If the hair is up, you risk everyone around you getting a taste of your latest shampoo and/or hairspray when you turn. Or in my case, the latest frizz controlling product.

I was feeling rather pleased at Paddington having survived the tube part of my journey. More smiles headed my way as the guard at Platform 11 was trying to herd people to their correct trains.

The problem of knowing where your train will leave from, is when things change. He saved multiple people from missing the right one and mostly because he recognised them! Good work that man!

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Alone

Well, it’s been a considerable amount of time since I last penned a post. A lot has happened since then. I had my work trip to Rio and then got swept up in a million and one things that I didn’t really have much control over. It’s been a tough last few weeks and today, on the 2nd anniversary of losing my Grandfather, I’m finding myself in a generally reflective mood.

One of the things that has been on my mind for a few months now, is the subject of loneliness. At what point are we actually alone? The reason for this trail of thought is due to a man, probably in his 80’s who I used to pass everyday on my journey to work. He would be walking to, or already sitting, at the bus stop as I drove past. He was always on his own.

It made me sad to see him there like that. His walking cane rested against his left leg, his eyes bright and a small smile as he waited eagerly for the bus to arrive. But why? He could very well have been going shopping, or to visit his friend/loved one in hospital, or perhaps just going to meet someone for a coffee. But what if he had no one? What if this man, whom the years had painted with wrinkles and the sun had weathered his skin, was completely alone in this world.

That last point made me stop and think. He’s not alone. He may not realise it, but every day, even now, when I pass that bus stop I think of that man. If someone is thinking of us, are we ever truly alone? So I don’t know his address or even his name, but he’s in my thoughts and, were I a religious person, he would be in my prayers.

We all have times when the days, weeks, months and yes even years, may drag us down and we all feel that no one knows what we are going through. But why is it that no one understands? In my case, it’s purely because I take no time to let people in and allow them to get to know me. That is easily fixed in time. There is always someone who will understand. Be it a therapist, friend, lover, colleague or anonymous stranger (The Samaritans for example), there is always someone to turn to.

Sometimes we need that grounding, to be reminded that we aren’t alone. We all have to muddle through and carve out a path in life. Rich, poor, hungry, full, married, single. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we take the time to make sure people know that they are never alone. When you next goto the shops or to work, take a look around you at the people you see everyday. Those cars that pass by every day. Those people on the train with you. The people and those cars may be nameless, but chances are that at least one of them will recognise you and notice if you’re not there.

I haven’t seen that man at the bus stop in a few months now. I hope that it’s purely a change in his routine and that nothing has happened to him. My office will be moving soon so I will never see him again, but I hope that he is happy and safe. It may seem a weird thing to say about someone I have never (and will never) meet, but it goes a long way to remind me that no matter what happens in life, there is always someone who recognises you and probably thinks of you.

And for as long as that goes on, I can never really say I’m alone.

People around us

Today was definitely a challenge. Hadn’t felt the best when I woke up and to be faced with the prospect of my working area of the City being close off due to the student protest on tuition fees, was not something I was relishing.
My journey in provided me with the perfect tonic. Just a couple of stops in, a gentleman got on and sat opposite me. He was sporting leopard skin boots. The weirdest part was that other than the footwear, he was dressed very sedately. Dark coat and dark coloured jeans. I was in too much shock and sat far too close to take a photo as proof for my blog.
I couldn’t imagine leaning over to him, ‘Excuse me, sorry, I’m just taking a photo of your boots, hope you don’t mind’. Guessing I’d get an amused look back and he’d either think I had a foot/boot fetish or was one of those annoying commuters who tweets/blogs on trains about everyone else. While I’m on that subject, the man opposite me now is eating a flapjack and drinking coffee. I’m jealous.
Anyway, while I was still staring at the mans boots (probably now just thinks I have a fetish), the train filled up and a woman got on to sit next to me. Up until this point I was considering tweeting (@sportmadchick) about the man in the boots, but thought better of it.
The woman sat down and from her small backpack, she pulled two knitting needles, a ball of wool and a partially knitted item. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone knit in the 8 years I’ve been doing this journey. She continued knitting until we reached London where she happily put it away and got off the train. I hope she manages to get it finished in time. Looked like it was for an item of babies clothing.
Oh and an update on the Finsbury Square camp… Couldn’t see a HR tent, but they do have a First Aid one. Safety first.