I started a new part time job two weeks ago which means that I now have to rise at 6 am and board a train into the centre of London with the rest of the commuting population.
I didn't predict that this would be much of a hardship. I am already an early riser and have been so for the last four and a half years ( against my will might I add) . I rationalised that if I can get up at 2, 4 and 6 am with screaming babies every night for years, then getting up at 6 am and hopping on a train wouldn't be that much different.
It turns out that there's a difference.
When you get up at 6 am to look a your after kids, you don't have to put on a bra...not straight away at least. You don't have to scrape dribble crust off your cheek or sculpt your massive knotted afro into a socially acceptable style. One doesn't have to worry about the Weetabix glob that has been flicked across the table and is now stuck to your Pj's ( next to the soild crust of similar stuff that was lobbed there the morning before)
Crusty blobs in the corners of your eye sockets can stay there all morning if you wish. There is even no need to put on pants and even though you are totally hanging tired, you can just sit and drool, Nescafe in hand, and let the tinky tonk Peppa Pig music wash over you. Nothing too taxing is required...especially as the only interaction you will be having at that hour will be with two kids who have minimal skills in the art of human conversation .
Boarding a train with the rest of the world requires a whole lot more.
On my first day, I boarded 6.32 am train to London and realised that people actually look rather civilised. They are all fully clothed with tidy hair AND they are all Weetabix- free. Weird. Aside from the occasional whiff of coffee- enhanced morning breath and the odd dollop of toothpaste on a neck tie, most people seemed to have nailed it.
I wasn't so impressive in appearance. I noticed that I had a baby dribble patch on my shoulder, a hole in my tights and a quick glance in the mirror made me realise that I looked like I had been Tango'ed. This is an unavoidable consequence of applying make-up before sunrise.
I realised there and then that I was going to have to buck up my ideas and literally get on board with the commuting population and adhere to the high standards they set.
The next day, I woke up extra early and showered immediately. It was weird as It usually takes 4 hours to be able to get near a shower. I scraped off the dribble, eradicated the morning breath with some Colgate and dragged a comb through my barnet. Bra on...I was ready to face the world.
I got on the train and felt proud that I seemed as sophisticated and professional as the other folk around me. With my cup of coffee and my briefcase, I looked the part of the modern working woman.
Then. It all went wrong.
I am not sure how it happened.I keep trying to piece it all together.
I remember getting a seat. I remember a nice, handsome fella sitting down next to me. I remember the ticket guy, and the train getting super busy. Loads of people had to stand hanging onto the barriers over my seat.
And then, my mind draws a blank.
I remember opening my eyes to find that the seat next to me was empty. No nice handsome fella was sat beside me. No one else had chosen to sit in his empty seat, even though the train was rammed.
Well, I could be wrong but I suspect that this may have happened:
This is my son, and he looks JUST like me. So, imagine THIS, only with a red hair and a trail of dribble with sodden Belvita Breakfast Biscuit Crumbs drowning in it.
Oh, and an audience of hundreds.
I am pretty sure that this is what happened. The look of disgust on the passenger's faces said it all.
To my horror, I believe that the nice handsome fella who was next to me ending up leaving the train saturated in the saliva of a stranger. I guess if it's not in a nightclub on a booze fuelled Saturday night out then it just doesn't have the same appeal. Perhaps this is why no one else dared to take his seat....they didn't want to get soaked.
Apologies to the poor fella and to all the folk on board the 6.32am service to Waterloo. I wish I could be as civilised as you.
Tomorrow, I shall take the car and perhaps the lives of millions of flies will be spared.