The man on the London train

The old man in the hat on the platform at Ipswich boarded my train. He was well dressed and clean shaven and after carefully removing his hat and placing it on the luggage rack with his walking cane he sat down opposite me.

A finger

A finger

He carefully opened his copy of The Times and found his place. Over the next few minutes he began to fall asleep. First his eyes grew heavy across the newspaper before eventually closing. The Times slowly slipped down below the table into his lap, his chin sunk into his chest and eventually all that was left was his finger hooked onto the table.

Obviously I checked he was breathing from time to time and the only occasion he stirred was when there was an announcement about tickets and how people who didn’t have the right one would be removed and flogged. The old man opened his eyes, checked his ticket and resumed his slumber.

Shortly before the announcement that we were arriving in London he woke, an involuntary awakening following years of travelling the same route no doubt. He carefully pulled himself to his feet, straightened out his paper, gathered his belongings from the luggage rack and headed towards the door.

The train pulled into Liverpool Street and we waited for the doors to open. A woman was looking out of the window. The old man, for the first time since he boarded, spoke, “You have to open the bloody thing yourself. They don’t send someone to open it for you.” His tone suggested that, at one time long ago, perhaps they did.


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