Wednesday, May 06, 2009

train sickness

On Saturday afternoon I boarded a train from Brighton station, noting uneasily that I appeared to be the only sober person aboard, a consequence of Brighton & Hove Albion's valiant escape from relegation that afternoon. Pockets of men with flushed cheeks and sandpapery heads stood, swaying, breaking into the occasional chant. It wasn't threatening at the least, but I sensed a lively journey. I weaved through the carriage, looking for a seat, and at last found one next to a couple of teenage girls, noting approvingly that they weren't drunk, and told them so, figuring that I'd managed to guarantee myself a couple of fairly sensible companions.

The train pulled out. The hubbub quietened down a little as inebriated football fans became drowsy and began to snooze. I smiled in a friendly way at one of the girls, as if to say "looks like we won't have such a noisy journey, after all". She smiled back, and turned to her companion.

"So", she said, in a surprisingly loud voice, "how's your swine flu coming along?".

They collapsed into giggles. Everyone turned to stare.

"Not so bad", her friend replied, even louder. "I still feel rough though".

I allowed myself a smile. Others were shaking their heads disapprovingly. I didn't see anyone looking alarmed, but there may have been someone whose heartbeat rose in tempo.

The train was quiet.

"So", the second of them, said - or half-shouted, "how are your genital warts coming along?"

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