Billy Bunter

Just before the Bank Holiday weekend I decided to leave work early to give myself an even longer break.  I wasn’t holding out much hope for my journey home as I knew mid-afternoon could be irritating on the train as they often contain people who think travelling on a dishevelled and dirty train is fun and all part of their outing.  Good for them I guess.

I had, on my way to the station, been into a Vodafone shop to look at buying a new phone.  As I opened the door I was hit by a wave of fug.  It smelled of staff and customers who think washing their hands after using the bathroom is an unnecessary quirk, and who think nothing of wearing the same suit day after day after day, and whose brylcreemed hair retained odours from their cigarette breaks.

Still, it had already been an effort to bother to go to the shop so I grit my teeth and held my breath and walked in.  Two staff were already sitting down with customers – all of whom bizarrely looked bored as hell to be there (staff I get – but the customers?).  A young man sauntered out from the back room, head down, doing his best to avoid eye contact.  I said ‘hello’ right in his face, forcing him to acknowledge my existence.  He didn’t however offer any help.  Not always the best quality in a sales rep.  So, again I was forced to initiate the conversation and told him I wanted to look at some Samsung phones but wasn’t sure if I wanted and S6, S6 edge, S7 or S7 edge.

“We don’t sell S6.  Carphone Warehouse might.”

The contempt in his voice palpable.  How could I even mention a phone that is 2 years old.  As he started to turn he managed to think that he could tell me they do have the S7 models but merely pointed in the general direction of where they were, and continued to turn away from me.  Clearly I was not the sort of customer that interested him.  All I can say is that I hope he is on commission because I was so ready to buy one that it would have taken a novice salesperson to get me to part me with my money.  I might even have been tempted to pre-order an S8.  This eejit however made me leave the shop empty handed…

…and a little more stressed as I headed towards the train.

I sat down on the train which happily was ready and waiting for me.  A relatively empty carriage, where each person can take up two seats.  Took out my book and crossed my fingers.

A young man diagonally opposite me stretched his long legs out putting his feet under the seat next to me.  Hmm, slightly invasive of space but not too bad, and he was being quiet.  He fidgeted quite a lot and proceeded to cross his long legs, resting his right ankle on his left knee, leaving his right knee and a large portion of leg flopping around quite near my opened book.  He was slouching so his long legs were nearly touching the seat next to me.  He fidgeted again, put both feet on the floor and spread his legs so wide that he reached across the seat next to him.  He had a bit of a thrust and a bit of a scratch, and I felt he really should take a seat elsewhere, but he was quiet as indeed were most people.  Most.

On the other side of the aisle was Billy Bunter.  An old Billy, with a very tight fitting pin striped pair of trousers and black waistcoat complete with watch chain, a black jacket, and purple socks.   His trousers had so many creases at the top of his legs where they failed in their struggle to ever be straight as they were not cut for Billy’s contours.  His waistcoat buttons just managed to maintain their closed position but the white shirt underneath was poking through somewhat.

His little legs just about reached the floor and his stomach hung heavily over them, even though he was still sitting.  This man single handed (or otherwise) managed to occupy 4 seats, by sitting across two and putting his briefcase across the two seats opposite him.

Billy was old school gluttony.  His expanding waistline – long gone – and his reddened nose and heavy jowls spoke of many years indulging, not of cheap processed foods or takeaways, but of long ‘business’ lunches with foie gras, that some poor tortured ducks and geese provided for him, full fat cream puddings and copious amounts of wine.

I suspect he was unused to slumming it on the train and felt the need to lord it over the plebeians nearby, so as soon as he slumped down he took out his phone and made a call.

“Gerald…it’s me…no…no…it’s fine…I’m on the train.  I was…erm…just…ah…ringing to talk about…your email…yes…yes…that will be fine…”

“…no…no…I will do it…yes…yes…I will do it…”

Yes or no?  Are both those words redundant if they now mean the same thing?

“…no…no…that was me…I went through a tunnel…it’s fine now…I…hum….uh….can talk now…”

Oh can you?  Such joy!  Billy was so intent on showing the plebs how important he was that he spoke extra loudly.  Nobody else in the carriage was on the phone, not even the fidget opposite me.  He proceeded to talk for the whole of my journey, and it was all as interesting as the few seconds written above…

I bet he would have got served in Vodafone.


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