Ordinarily, I hop on the tube by the middle doors – a greater choice of seats or standing space. Spotting fewer people at the single, end doors of the carriage, I jumped in.
It took all of three seconds to understand the space was in fact an exclusion zone around a rather dirty-looking, fragrant, prematurely-aged man spilling a can of 69p super-strength White Lightening.
His hair alternately plastered to his head and sticking up, eyes rolling, he slurred, “Do yer shpeak fack in’ Inglish? This train…stop at ‘Ainult? Shpeak Inglish, you kant?” to the black man opposite.
Not surprisingly, he received no answer.
He looked up at me, brave (or stupid) enough to stand next to his seat. “Shpeak Inglish, luff?”
I answered in the affirmative.
“These uffer kants don’t shpeak fack in’ Inglish”.
I explained his aggressive, possibly offensive way of speaking was stopping people from answering. He looked confused, and shouted above the rattle of the carriage, “like football?”
“I don’t mind it”.
“Wess ‘Am? Mill-wahl?” he sneered.
Same perplexed look when I told him my boyfriend was from Up North, so Everton.
Mightily happy that I sustained the conversation by asking him who he supports, he replied, “Tott’nem. Lotsa kants shpeak Inglish…’n’ lotsa kants don’t.”
“Inglish name that.
“I think it was originally German.”
“Fack in’ kants. German kants”.
He pats the sit next to him. “Sitt‘ere”.
I explained I was getting off at the next stop.
“Mile End…Yer stop. See ya Emma.”
“She shpeaks fack in’ Inglish, she does.”