Louis, I don’t think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

9 Feb

I clamour aboard the tube and settle into my well-worn seat. It’s been a long day. Eight hours. It’s Monday. I don’t expect to see anything unusual. Whoever does?

I glance at the seats opposite me. Look down. My eyes dart up again, taking in the scene before me.

Two women perch on tube seats wearing coats of identical style and colour—long trench-style wool coats in purple. Not an ordinary purple either. This was the kind of purple you imagine to be made into satin sheets and laid on the beds of kings and queens. Nevertheless, the colour of their coats is really secondary to this story.

The story here is that despite never having met before and coming from entirely different circumstances and backgrounds, these two individuals appeared to strike a friendship.

Woman one is of Indian descent; her face is lined, her eyes drooping. She tells the other woman she’s saddled with two teenage girls and cannot remember how long she’d been married for.

Woman two is a twenty-something French Canadian from Montreal with spiky red hair and a nose ring. She says she dreamed of studying performing arts at a particular London arts school and that’s why she’s come over. Oh, and she also recently bought a purple robin hood-style hat to match her coat.

I didn’t realise they didn’t know each other at first because when I got on the train they were giggling away, conspiring. Then woman two sticks out her hand.

“I’m Brianne”, she says.

“I’m Doris”, says woman one.

“Lovely to meet you, Brianne.”

Introductions out of the way, they continue nattering away like old friends.

And I think to myself, ‘How lovely to witness the start of a new friendship. And how lovely that their friendship should transcend age and culture.’

Passengers on the tube look up from their magazines and newspapers, take a long hard look at the women. Disbelieving.

Then woman two asks woman one if she’s into reiki and if she’d like to come to this “little group” staged in a church.

“Is it religious?”


The woman starts to back away.

“Well, many are quite spiritual…

…Many are quite religious…”

And an otherwise quiet train full of people smile with their eyes as they (and I) feel the cynicism creep back in. So, friendships aren’t made on train rides. But you can expect to be pitched to by a religious nut.

Ah, this is the world that makes sense on the London tube.


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