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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Last night, I was getting the train home from work slightly later than usual, and it being a Friday, and slightly later than usual, the overland train was filled with many people eating fast food very quickly.

As someone who hasn’t eaten generic, American-originated fast food for a very long time, I always find the smell of it both appalling and appealing in confusingly equal measures. I’m also fascinated by how quickly people will eat it when they’re drunk. The literal speed at which they stuff it into their mouths, barely chew, swallow and repeat the process over and over with no reference to the amount of the sauce that’s spilling down their chins, all over their cheeks and on to their laps, no concern for the condiments currently scattering themselves liberally across their clothing and little regard for the more sober of us around them who have seen 2 year old children eat with better manners in public.

I love it, actually, watching drunk people eat fast food. I think that it might actually be the way that everyone is transported back to the eating standards of a two year old, eating as thought you should probably be strapped to a high chair with a plastic bib, thick, chunk and rounded plastic cutlery clasped in hand but utterly ignored in favour of the fingers, hurling food in the general direction of face and hoping that some of it will go into mouth - but the important thing is to move it all at speed.

Sitting in front of me on the train was a woman in a very expensive fur (or faux-fur, I can never tell which), eating a Big Mac (no fries, no drink) and having an absolutely whale of a time. You could tell immediately she was drunk and, by the way she was crouched over, stuffing that monster into her mouth, that she either hadn’t eaten for about 2 weeks, or she’d skipped the “lunch” in “liquid lunch”.

Eventually she finished, cleaned herself up as best she could, and sat staring contentedly into the middle distance, in that brilliant way that drunk people do when they’re drunk, full up and on their way home to some more comfy drinks before retiring to bed for the entire weekend. She was possible even considering going another burger at the other end of her journey. I couldn’t tell you. I turned my attention to my book and got to reading.

The weirdest thing happened when we got to the stop before my home stop. As people were getting off the train, a young black guy aged about 20 stopped beside us, hesitated for a brief moment (from his posture, I thought he was going to ask me a question), yelled at the lady in front of me who was still staring all middle distance to “MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS” and threw a fast food cup full of ice and lemonade over her head. He then got off the train.

I was, I don’t mind telling you, completely freaked out. Quite a lot of it splashed back on me, but that was the least of my concerns. That day, the London press had been full of photographs of the guy that had gone on a shooting spree in Finsbury Park tube station, and I suddenly felt really vulnerable to attack. I realise it was only lemonade, and that’s an over reaction to lemonade, but in that moment (and for about 20 minutes after that) I was literally shaking.

The poor Big Mac lady, who had probably done nothing more than been accidentally looking towards him while staring into the middle distance, and made the simple mistake of looking in his direction and being middle class, took it a lot better than me. Although she was now covered not only in lemonade but also ice cubes, she was still laughing it off when I got off the train a minute later.


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