Sunday, February 03, 2013

Train Tales #1*: the nipple-tassled French woman

It's true that the woman is beautiful with long black hair and full red lips. But she's breathless and in a hurry. We're sitting in a train carriage, drunk, opposite the toilet. She stops in front of us and tells us she needs the toilet. There's one behind her, we say, but apparently it's occupied. She pouts and speaks in a French accent. She says she works in a cabaret (did she say in Bristol?) selling nipple tassels. My boon companion gently mocks her and can't work out if her accent is genuine or put-on; she says she only needs the French accent for her job – my companion notes she's still in character so must take her job seriously (she doesn't get the joke; she must be French). I think she says she lives in Brixton. She leaves us to find another toilet and is back minutes later, explaining she can't stay, a man she doesn't trust is looking after her bag. There is much mirth on our carriage once she's left, and debates as to whether her accent was genuine or not. Most think not. My boon companion was on a winning streak; earlier on, a random (drunk) woman (who he quite fancied) on the tube platform had called him 'dashing'. He was dead chuffed; stopped dead in his tracks and said 'thank you very much'. No one's ever called him that before (or since); we put it down to the fact he was pulling a suitcase on wheels and wearing a suit. If I was being honest, I'd say he's not not dashing anyway.

*Don't get your hopes up. There's unlikely to be a #2. It was going to be about a Ray Winstone-type cockney geezer who sits next to a drunk American guy opposite me. The American was enjoying a hamburger but was very drunk and each mouthful resulted in small bits of the burger falling onto his shirt. The cheeky cockney geezer noticed this, found it amusing and would tell the American some food fell on his shirt every time it happened. He wasn't being helpful though, more sarcastic and condescending. The American ignored him mostly, occasionally muttering, 'it's my shirt, it's my shirt' and continuing to eat. This went on for some minutes until a man sitting next to me sided with the American, pretending to be his friend, and told the cockney to leave the American alone. This the cockney found even more amusing. There was also a younger guy who'd got on with the cockney, I don't think they knew each other but were engaging in some banter, trying to suss out where the other lived. Anyway, just as it was getting interesting, I had to get off the train, so it would have been a bit of a non-story really.

Or it could have been about the woman who just brushed another woman's bag as she was sitting down. This resulted in a heated argument and one of the women storming off. Again, not great. Or it could have been about the young woman I saw on Christmas Eve on the tube. She was kneeling on her seat, her back towards the carriage, face against the window, hands over her face, crying, I mean really wailing, almost hysterically. No one looked at her let alone attempted to comfort her. I think of her sometimes, all dressed up she was too, her crying so despairing I've never heard anything like it. I wonder what had happened to her. Someone died, her boyfriend left her? I like these half-finished train stories, really, a slight, sometimes mysterious, glimpse into a stranger's life; events and dramas unfolding on public transport. Life is a cabaret, occasionally.


Raven said...

Eagerly awaiting short film featuring the afore-mentioned nipple-tassled French woman!

Barnaby said...

Wow, that's a great idea, I'm sure she could be a star! Nice to hear from you, Raven.