A man across the carriage from me is wearing the tightest white shirt I have ever seen. The material is pulled taught round every button and the man is clearly uncomfortable, in exquisite discomfort even, writhing with enough intensity to put Uriah Heep to shame. The shirt is so small that Frodo Baggins would have given it to Oxfam and Tom Thumb would have lost sleep worrying about nipple exposure.
Opposite me is my Nemesis, a man whose daily goal is to invade my space with his huge greatcoat and massive laptop. Every day without fail he seeks me out, plonks himself in front of me, or next to me, and tries to read my paper. I fight back by holding my paper at an impossible angle, which doesn't stop him but hopefully gives him a cricked neck and eyestrain. If he wants to read a paper he should buy one.
Across the aisle is the bike freak, a man who (every day) taps away on his laptop until we reach Gatwick, before getting up to unfold his travel bike. He unfolds it using a tape measure to achieve an exactitude that would put da Vinci to shame. In fact, it does put da Vinci to shame.
Note to self, send some boos and hisses da Vinci's way.
Further up the carriage is one of the two eccentrics. I've mentioned these before in another article, but they are so brilliant they deserve to feature again. Every day they wait together at exactly the same point on the platform. One of them always carries a giant golf umbrella, no matter what the weather, which has always irritated me. I'd rather get wet a couple of times a year than lug that monstrosity around 365 days a year. He reminds me of my wife's gran, who once spent several months refusing to go outside in case she got hit by a meteor.
Anyway these chaps stand there chatting away like old friends until the train pulls up. One of them gets on the adjacent carriage and the other walks a few yards up the platform and gets on the next carriage. An unfathomable mystery. If they are such good friends why not sit together? If they want some space to read then why not just agree to read? They're mad I tell you. Sagacity, oh sweet Sagacity, where are you?
The train conductor thinks he is Clint Eastwood, swaggering up and down the aisle as if he bruised his coccyx tripping over a cat, making gruff announcements...
"There are two kinds of men in this world...sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, got a bit carried away there, this is the 7:24 service to London Victoria, calling at..."
Marshaling my thoughts I attempt to get back to my paper, which has been woefully neglected, but they drift back to White Shirt. What WAS he thinking as he admired himself in the mirror this morning, flexing his pecks and winking at his reflection?
Is it cold in here? Nice nips?