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There is something about brunette girls I quite like. I don't like generalising but it's really not my fault I believe them to be intellectually superior to their blonde counterparts. Past experience has taught me that this is undoubtedly fact. So as I look at the two girls sat opposite me there really isn't much contest. I'm going to be looking at the brunette.

It's a cruel blow for blondes all around the world. Especially the ones who don't look up to Jordan and treat her as a role model. And there are more of them than I probably give credit to. Those without the Essex accents will be happy to shrug off the fact that my eyes are fleeting to the left, in the knowledge that I am a shallow individual who choses girls based purely on hair colour. I also have a mullet. Who wants to befriend someone like that?

My attention is diverted from the brunette momentarily as the District Line tube pulls into West Brompton. A bloke decked out in Quiksilver gear gets on with a pair of skis. Must be snowing in Upminster I assume. I slip in one of my earphones and scan forward on my iPod. I find something slightly more in keeping with my street-cred than Sophie Ellis-Bextor and look up. The brunette is playing with her hair. A sure fire sign that she is interested in me then. Or she could be imagining how she would look with a mullet. I mull over which scenario is most likely. I can't decide.

She is the epitome of a Sloane Ranger. Ugg boots and white Polista jeans. Oversized sunglasses rest on the top of her head. The last time the sun shone was two months ago. I suddenly feel very conscious to those around me. They know what I'm doing. They all know I have a tube crush. I feel embarrassed at how obvious I have made it. I begin to turn away but just as brain tells neck to move the Sloane looks across at me. And she smiles. I panic. Not many girls smile at me on the tube. In my rush to smile back I forget to move the right side of my mouth. I'm snarling at her now. In what I view as a victory for all mankind she seems unperturbed. I like a girl who likes a snarler.

For most people I guess this would be as good a time as any to say hello. In this sort of instance I very much consider myself to be in the 'most people' bracket. I think about what to say, 'Hello' features particularly strongly but I am certainly tempted with, 'Do you have bubble-gum stuck in your hair love?'. My Mother will no doubt rejoice that I plump for the former. Not that she was with me or anything. She's just never approved of bubble-gum. I take a deep breath and let the most traditional of greetings leave my voice box. Alarmingly though we grind to a sudden and uplanned stop. I bite my tongue. It dawns on me where I am. Bloody hell. I'm on the tube. What am I doing?! I sit back and shake my head. That was close. Too close. I nearly broke the cardinal rule of commuting.

As everyone in London knows you don't talk to people on the tube. Not people you don't know anyway. And certainly not to brunettes who smile at Sophie Ellis-Bextor fans* who have a habit of snarling at them. I am not 100% sure who invented this rule. I know who I want to blame. I want to blame Ken Livingstone. I like blaming him for stuff. To me it's a rite of passage. Only on this occasion I don't think it's his fault. He can count himself a lucky boy.

Much to my regret I actually think the blame lies at the feet of Great Britain and the many Briton's who commute through London's maze of tunnels. Now I do love my country - I'm a self-confessed xenophobe without the BNP membership card** - but at times I think our reservedness do us no favours. The vast majority of us - and I reckon this probably includes you - just sit and stand and stare. Maybe we look at the Metro, maybe we read a book. We almost certainly look at our phones and Blackberries even if it is just to read a two week old text message. What we don't do is talk to one another.

Call me one of the last romantics if you will, but I can't think of a better location to start up a conversation than fifty-feet underground while being held at yet another red signal. It's the perfect spot. And yet no one seems prepared to give it a go. We think those who try initiating conversation are weirder than those who pretend to speak on their phones. It's not a great place to be. Is it? And what do we do if we see someone we like? Someone we might like to get to know better over a few sangrias? We go home and send in a 'Lost Connections' message to The London Paper, 'You were the blonde girl on the Jubilee Line on Wednesday at 7pm. We got on at North Greenwich and exchanged smiles. Drink?'.

It's not just the tube though. It's trains and buses too. Now I've done a bit of travelling and from Amsterdam to Perth there doesn't seem to be the same resolute silence. Indeed, whilst in Perth I got asked three times - on the same fifteen minute bus journey - where the Aussies could get a Livestrong wrist band from. When I tell you that I wasn't even wearing one you will understand why this was so incredible. I know I was wearing a Livestrong t-shirt but that's not really the point. The fact is they spoke. And yes, I have tried wearing the same attire on the Number 11. I have had no joy.

I have my theroies as to why we Brits prefer the silence. Maybe it harks back to the glorious days of the British Empire when we felt it was everyone else's job to serve us. Maybe we are just too polite. We're not, after-all, the French, who like a nice riot and struggle with the concept of queuing. Or maybe it's that when I get the tube I always end up in the middle of a load of German tourists and if they were talking to me I would be none the wiser. It does feel bitterly unfair that it's always German tourists. I long for the day when it's a bunch of Romans or Stephen Fry. At least then I will have a use for my Latin GCSE.

We pull into Earls Court and I race the bloke with the skis across the platform to the High Street Kensington bound tube. Pathetically I let him win. I look back to where I once sat. It was sad to leave the brunette alone. If only we had been in a bar. If only she had knocked on my door to ask for help with a front wheel puncture. It would have been a totally different story then. I suppose I could change it. I could change history right here. All I have to do is run back to the other tube and show her my collection of wristbands. But I don't. I let the tube doors close and I read a text message from last Tuesday. I guess, in the end, I'm just too British.

*This is not the case. I merely added the song 'Murder on the Dancefloor' when I was about ten. And yes, I am sure iPod's existed in 1993.
**My xenophobia amounts to no more than harmless banter before you start complaining to the Daily Mail.

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1 comment:

  1. Couldn't someone have told me I spelt 'epitome' wrong.