“For passengers on platform three, I regret to announce that your straight-through srevice to Victoria will be running approximately 15 minutes late” was the message crackling from the waiting-room Tannoy. It was greeted with the usual grunts and predictable wise-cracks about the West Indian announcer’s accent. Everybody within listening range laughed and looked around at each other for what looked like comfort and what looked to me like a distant form of camaradery. Not me, though: I just delivered a quick glance to all involved and settled back down to my weekly edition of 2000AD.
From this moment on I could feel piercing stares coming at me from all directions. If we were ten years younger they would probably have told me that I wasn’t in their gang any more, but I already knew that — and that was the way I liked it. You only had to look at the material difference to realise this. Every male person in that room was wearing a long beige trench-coat, black suit, and white shirt, with a pink newspaper in one hand and a brief-case in the other. It was almost comical: couldn’t they see how childish they really looked, or were they too busy thinking about who they were going to back-stab that day in order to get that promotion on which all humanity depended?
Anyway, for the next 15 minutes I thought about where I wanted to skate today, but I just couldn’t decide. Stockwell? No, what I needed was a lip to smash my tail on or to stab me a Smith — something to work off the frustration of my immediate surroundings. That’s it — a mini ramp. But where? Uxbridge? Too far. Kings Cross? Knackered. Romford? No cash. Islington? Too sssllooooowww. I suppose the mini ramp idea is out the window.
My thoughts are interrupted by the approaching train. As I climb aboard my truck catches against the briefcase handle of today’s resident comedian. As I unhook my board and say “Sorry” he grunts something along the line of “Grow up, throw that toy away and do something with your life”. Now I’m pissed: “Who the hell do you think you are, something special, huh? Well, let me tell you something: in this carriage alone there are about 20 people just like you, there are four other carriages in this train and hundreds of trains heading for central London right now, full of people just like you, as well as millions of kids on their way to school learning to do your job, only way more efficiently. You’re nothing.”
As I finished my defence/attack we stood opposite each other due to the lack of seats. I could see the frustration building up on his face as we stared into each other’s eyes, then in desperation there was an outburst from his corner: “Look at you with your coloured-in trainers, worn jeans and stupid hat. I’m going places, I’m needed, I’ve got somewhere I’ve got to be.”