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A tangle of hands hanging from the bar. One of those occasions when folks squeezing into the carriage have to find any available half-space to wrap their fingers, so, arms cross, fingers stretch and elbows find themselves in ears, in eyes. For Pete’s sake, sort yourselves out, just all let go, untangle, start again.

I suspect that I am obsessed with hands. Well, some hands, perhaps. A slimmish, brownish hand across the carriage has an ‘S’ on the back of it. It is very fine and precise as if drawn with a designer’s pen, not greenish, blurry like most tattoos. It resembles a violin’s f-hole, classical, graceful. (But s-hole shaped, obviously!) The initial of her lover or mother? A reminder to be Serene, Self-confident or to Seize the day? More likely a careless scribble in Biro, not washed off yet. Then I see it. A tiny arachnid is trapezing from her hand to the rail. A reminder that we share our every environment, no matter how man-made, with the Earth’s creatures. And now she is Spider Woman.

Couples. Should stay off the tube during rush hour. I suspect that as they are pressed together in the crowd, usually face-to-face in an embrace (why wouldn’t you?) that their mutual universes obscure the fact that they are sharing every breath and fart with strangers, some of whom are unwillingly squished against them, and that these strangers are mostly trying to maintain their own tiny universes, their personal spaces, their un-privacy. The giggly, kissy universe of lovers is just too busy and too emotional to be compressed against. Where is my book/phone/anyotherdistractionplease?

A couple or non-couple I saw today were different though. Definitely a non-couple, I think, because of the poor guy’s condition, in that he was clearly in love and it was painful for him. At first, I couldn’t see the face of the young woman as she had her back to me, but I could see his face clearly both while they were chatting and when they were not. And when they were not, he wore an expression of absolute adoration and of absolute sadness. He couldn’t take his eyes off her and in turn I couldn’t stop watching him. We’ve all been there, hopelessly yearning, it’s awful. Watching him brought back memories and feelings that I keep locked away, ignored but not forgotten. Then she turned and sure enough, she was Helen of Troy and some of my newly resurfaced self-pity became pity for him. I had to agree with his face, this wasn’t going to work unless he had an irresistible personality.

© Copyright Alastair Lampard 2019