Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Things You Don’t See From A Car: Mini Dramas on Public Transport

The Scene: it's 9 pm on a hot July evening on the Southern Rail concourse at London’s Victoria Station. I'm sitting on a bench, waiting for my train. A man in a crumpled white suit, and a woman in a dramatic frock are having a loud argument in front of me. The concourse becomes their stage.
Man: “You can’t do this. There are children at home. We’re going on holiday tomorrow……(long pause)…. Is there someone else?”
Man tries to grab woman’s bag.
Man: “We need to talk.”
Man exits, stage right.
Woman comes over and sits on bench next to me. Mutters something under her breath.
Me: “Sorry?”
Woman: “I think I’m in trouble.”
Me: “Aha. Why do you say that?”
Woman: “Because I’ve invited a homeless man to stay in our garden shed.”
Me: “Really? That’s very generous. How did that happen?”
Woman: “He was on Oxford Street. Selling the Big Issue.”
Me: “And you let him stay in your shed?”
Woman: “Yes, he doesn’t come into the house. He works in the garden and I give him some food. I think everyone deserves a second chance.”
Me: “It’s like that Alan Bennett story, The Lady In The Van. He let a woman live in a van in his front garden. You’ve let a man live in a shed in your back garden. Maybe you could turn it into a best selling play. Or a book.”
Man re-enters, stage right, approaches woman.
Man: “I can’t believe you’ve done this. We’re going on holiday tomorrow. We have to talk.”
Southern Rail announcer: “The 21.17 train to Littlehampton will depart from platform 16.”
Me: “Sorry, that’s my train. I have to go.”
I wonder what happened? Did they go on holiday? Are they still husband and wife? What about the children? And is the man still living in the shed? I really wish that I'd waited for the next train...

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