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Posted by Clayton Littlewood
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January to March 2013

Tube Diary: 28th January


Wake. Eat. Tube. Work. Tube. Eat. Sleep. Repeat til death.


Tube Diary: 11th February


Bored with my book. So let’s see what’s going on here then…Okay. Opposite: a girl (twenties, all in black, crimson nail polish) engrossed in a book. Next to her, blonde woman, burnt orange complexion, ‘porn like’ breasts. Looks uptight. Marble Arch, train fills up. Everyone deadpan, gloomy. No one speaking. Just the rustle of newspapers, the announcer tells us to ‘mind the closing doors’ and then the beeeeeeeb as they close. Further along the carriage, a tall cross-eyed guy is staring at me (at least I think he is). He looks a bit ‘Tilda Swinton’. But stockier. Now we’re at Bank. Change trains. Down the winding staircase, along the passageway, passing posters advertising the Constable exhibition, the Man Ray one (we’re spoilt for culture in London), the new Richard Gere film (I’ve gone off him since I read in Tennessee William’s Memoirs that he snubbed Tennessee backstage). Jump the Northern, crammed by the doorway, trying to stop someone reading over my shoulder. And now, at last, we’re at Old Street. My stop.


Tube Diary: 11th February


Not loving the hats in here tonight. Princess Beatrice would be in her element.


Tube Diary: 12th February


Woman opposite (blonde, roots) picking her nails, flicking bits of skin on the floor. Woman next to her holding a pink bag with The Hummingbird Bakery written on it. Mad rush at Nottinghill. A stocky woman charges toward the one spare seat like an angry rhino. Everyone opposite reading (Kindles, mags, the Metro). Guy next to me on his iPhone scrolling through a stocks and shares app. Father and son standing by the window, angular faces, glasses, an uncanny likeness but with a 30 year difference. Someone’s belly is edging toward my face. *muffled shouts for help* He’s gone. *catches breath* The stocky woman is sitting with her legs wide open – like a scene from Acorn Antiques. Small lady opposite, looks like a little bird. Her hair is the colour of Peanut Butter and her hat is an exact match. They’ve now got Wifi on the tube so posting this as I step off the train. Yorestrewly, Clay.


Tube Diary: 14th February


Waxed n’ combed the riah, modelling Lacroix #Manchesterbound


Tube Diary: 16th February


Two days after my Mancs trip still worn out. But now I’m on Central > Holborn, going to the Marlene Dietrich talk at Conway Hall. She passed me by when I was young. But now she’s gone, and I’m a lot older, I finally get her. There’ll be a few there tonight who saw her in concert. And I imagine they’ll be of a certain persuasion.


Tube Diary: 20th February


In a daze I got off at the wrong stop. Had to wait for the next train. Then a clamber of bodies, pushing to get on. I waited until the mass had boarded. Then I stepped daintly on in the remaining space and smiled at them all sweetly, as if to say, ‘Your Queen has decided to mingle amongst you. But please don’t make eye contact or touch the royal person. I thank you.’


Tube Diary: 21st February


Offered a blind man my seat. Stupidly, I stood up and said, ‘Would you like to sit over here?’ When he obviously couldn’t see where ‘here’ was. So with my bag and book in one hand, and his white stick in his, I clumsily guided him toward my seat, trying to ease him into it, instead of which, with a jolt of the train, I ended up pushing him so that he fell back with a bump, his head banging against the window (causing the passengers nearby to peep over their Metros and Kindles disapprovingly). Jumped off at the next stop, mortified.


Tube Diary: 24th February


It’s all very hush hush, so keep it to yourselves, but I’ve been approached to become the new Pope. I tick all the boxes apparently. Like jusshy clothing. Check. Hand made shoes. Check. Being surrounded by flirtaceous men. Check. Just off for a drag fitting. Catch you later. Love and world peace, Pope Claylickdicktus


Tube Diary: 26th February


Woman opposite eating a pastie hasn’t noticed a few pieces have fallen onto her lap. I have. I can see a pea, a carrot, a piece of broccoli and a lump of meat (donkey?) stuck to a piece of potato.


Tube Diary: 27th February


Standing by the doors. This is the spot from hell because as soon as they open you get pushed and shoved and end up rammed up up against a Suit playing Def Leppard full volume. Here we go. Nottinghill. The stop where they rush on like zombies. Fuck. Now I’m so hemmed in three ribs have cracked, my nose is lodged inside an unwashed ear and I’m being spit-roasted all the way to Holborn.


Tube Diary: 27th February


Now on the Dolly. Woman next to me eating a Caffè Nero croissant ‘really’ loudly, flicking bits on the seat and the floor as she eats. So want to turn to her and say, ‘Dinner parties at yours must be très élégante.’ But instead I’m facing the window and dreaming of going back to bed.


Tube Diary: 28th February


Trying to have a chilled journey. Then a young girl storms onto the train, pushes me aside and plonks herself down in the one spare seat. Throw her a withering look channelling Larry Grayson (‘Oh the muck in ‘ere!’) and Joan Crawford (‘Don’t fuck with me fellas!’). She looks petrified.



Tube Diary: 1st March


Hell is being squashed up against someone whose every pore is secreting Thierry Mugler’s Angel.



Tube Diary: 5th March


Around me: a discarded Metro, an empty milkshake bottle, a beer belly, dusty workmans boots, fake Gucci, a Ribena carton, yellow striped socks and an about-to-be-eaten second mini chocolate roll (the first is currently being masticated).



Tube Diary: 6th March


Couple directly opposite holding hands, staring into each others eyes, open mouth kissing. He’s in his sixties, overweight, in a suit that’s too small for him. She’s young, petite, shoulder length hair, cherry-red lipstick. Just above them one of the Poems For The Underground. It reads:


‘As he travels home on the on line he is reviewing his marriage. When he used to tell her that he loved her it was certainly true. But now the words – though they still fulfill a useful and ceremonial purpose – have lost some of their resonance. As in Barons Court or St John’s Wood or the beautiful Shepherd’s Bush.’ (Connie Bensley).



Tube Diary: 7th March


Three (loud) women from out of town standing nearby *puts down book* Okay, so here’s what I’d like: a ‘Londoners only’ carriage (preferably near the entrance). This carriage would be completely quiet (obviously), a selection of books and mags scattered round, maybe some artwork. I’m thinking silk cushions, a drinks trolley (not lagers, liqueurs), and a tray of those little cakes in pastel colours. You know the ones, those mini-meringue things. Oh and piped music, (something classical, none of that ‘new age’ whale noises shit). And some nice flooring. Thank you *goes back to book*


Tube Diary: 11th March


Have let five trains go by so far cos’ they were rammed. Freezin’ me tits off. What a way to start the week. Then an empty train. *makes the sign of the cross. Steps daintly on* I immediately become engrossed in an ad for ‘Perfectil Tablets: The Science of Beauty’. There’s one box for skin, one for nails and then a box called Perfectil Platinum for ‘skin radiance’. Can’t make out if it’s believable or a load of crap. Change trains. Down the stairway (even further underground). Along one, two passageways, people heading toward me in single file. Pass an ad that reads, ‘Where there are clouds we know there are silver linings.’ Now I’m on the Northern Line platform. In front if me there’s an ad asking for people to take a picture that encapsulates their love of London. So I take a picture of it.


Tube Diary: 13th March


Dolly Line to Upminster. Four people using iPhones. Five people reading Kindles. One person reading a book. Goodbye paper. Nice knowing you.


Tube Diary: 13th March


Girl next to me eating steamed broccoli with chilli seasoning, washing it down with swigs of Coke Zero. Feel like asking her, ‘Do you know what the Soup of the Day is?’



Tube Diary: 18th March


8:44. Train pulls in as I enter the platform. Step on. Take a seat. Settle. Behind me there’s a deafening noise. It’s probably a broken fan but it sounds like an industrial lawn mower. If I zone out I forget it’s there. But now I’m thinking about it it’s tortuous. At the end of the carriage, leaning against an alcove, a dishevelled woman is talking to herself. She catches me staring, points her finger and shouts, ‘Jesus wants a dozen eggs and 2 pints of sterilised milk!’ Strangely the other passengers act as if nothing’s happened and stare blankly ahead. So what with this unbearable noise, being surrounded by Stepford Wives, and the mother from Carrie about to attack me, I can’t wait to get off (and I’ve still got to face the Northern).


Tube Diary: 20th March


Yesterday I lazed around the flat. I watched the 2nd half of a 4 hour Warhol documentary, re-read the intro to his diaries, flicked through some entries, and then spent the afternoon scrubbing limescale off the bathroom walls. Now I’m on the Central. There’s a young girl next to me reading a book. I think it’s called The Fall and she’s on a chapter called Pearl Street. The woman on the other side is reading the Metro and an article headed: ‘Blair defends war in Iraq.’ Well of course he does. He’s hardly likely to say, ‘I cocked up’. Now we’re at Holborn. This morning I had my first shave in 2 days, and after massaging L’Oreal’s Revitalift into the visage it now feels super soft. So I’m sitting here imagining I’m in a L’Oreal ad for middle-aged men coping with commuting stress showing how Revitalift can transform their saggy skin.


Tube Diary: 22nd March


My ideal day would be spent lying on my bed thinking of all the things I should be doing & imagining myself doing them.



Tube Diary: 22nd March


Imagine dying on here. Imagine having a heart attack, how embarrassing it would be – half the carriage ignoring you (the Londoners) and the other half fussing over you (tourists, ‘out of towners’), asking you if you’re okay, if they should ring them alarm, get help. I’d be saying, ‘No, really. I’m fine. I’ll be okay. Honestly!’ as I’m actually dying. That to me would be ‘dying of embarrassment.’



Tube Diary: 22nd March


…then imagine them carrying your body off, people (like me) snapping away on their iPhones. Your head lolling to one side. And what if you’d got up late and you weren’t wearing a nice outfit. You’d just thrown anything on, an uncoordinated colour scheme, so your last day would be spent looking your worst (perhaps you were a day away from a hair appointment). And maybe you hadn’t had time to shave. I’d want to go looking my best wouldn’t you? Mind you, if you’d just had a heart attack maybe you would look a bit peaky. My stop.


Tube Diary: 22nd March


Another ‘finger numbingly’ cold morning. In this carriage; yards of scarves, gloves and muffs, hats and caps. A poster for a film called Dark Skies whizzes by. The woman standing in front tosses her glossy mane into my face. I want to tie each lock into a knot. A big bruiser of a guy steps on. He’s got his back to me too. His feet are huge. The train stops at Bond Street. No one speaks. Now it’s off again. More people at Oxford Circus. An unbelieveable amount of people. Now I’m totally hemmed in. I hate everyone on here. Seven more tube journeys to Easter. Thank you Jesus.


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