I just don’t remember it being this bad, on the tube. It’s so hot I can feel the sweat trickling down my back. The front of my fresh laundered linen shirt is soaking wet in patches. The air is so still in here, and so close. Every inch of space is taken up with people. I’ve managed to get a seat, and I’m writing to you as my neck and forehead trickle, in the hopes that this will all be over soon. Kings Cross next stop. I’m going to Finsbury Park. I’ll go home by bus, as this is unbearable. The constant chatter of all the conversations in all the languages. Children screaming. The regular announcements too slow, too slow. And when we move, occasionally, the little cooler whiff of moving air from the window at the end, barely getting past the crowd of bodies here to where I’m sweltering into my phone at you. A moment of unsatisfactory relief.
I think there might be a football match… Mass exodus at Highbury and Islington. We were on the route from Victoria to Emirates Stadium. Maybe that was it. If so, good on them for not adding to it by being tanked up and chanting. The sardines are not so tightly packed. The air can move a little. Whatever it was that caused us to be jammed like beans in a jar, it has reminded me of the extent to which I hate the tube.
Right so yes, Arsenal were playing. They won 6-0 against Sevilla at home. I’m not sure which competition. But that’s why the tube was so incredibly packed. I chose the wrong time. With that in mind, I decided to risk coming back on it now, long after the game has ended. It’s a long way to Chelsea from Finsbury Park. A taxi would be profligate. A bus takes hours. That inward journey though … it was quite something. It had a profound effect on my body. I was heated up to such an extent that I had to keep going outside when I was at my friend’s party, to go put my face in the wind. I was carrying terrific heat and radiating it uncomfortably. I love being hot. But that was like post Bikram Yoga on a hangover and then straight into the bar to have pints.
I had four pints, and the thing that’s most remarkable about that is that I was counting them. I am pretty sure that an earlier version of me would have had more, quicker, without counting. But that was plenty, interspersed with water over quite a long time, for my purposes. Helen had an extra fish taco which she gave me. Absorbent.
Resocialising… Keeping track. I think the kamikaze version of me who doesn’t count the rounds and doesn’t mind where he ends up because he’s firmly glued to the moment – I think he’s coming out a bit less frequently unless he’s needed to wake things up. Maybe that’s for the best. We all change as we grow. And there were very dear old friends who were very much bringing the party. I really enjoyed being out, seeing old faces, hugging and connecting and catching up. And I left when I noticed I felt drunk. Rather than trying to be the last man standing.
I’m writing to you from a pretty empty train, just before my stop. Maybe the tube isn’t so bad after all. Everything at the right time.
And I’m home. Before midnight. That’s a win.