Flatulence will get you everywhere


Did people fart less in the 70s?

Because of the changes at Waterloo Station throughout the summer I have had to experiment and vary (in case I’m followed) my journeys home.

This week I travelled from Victoria, via my home town of Balham, en route to Suburbia.  I was lucky as I was the only person in a carriage of four banks of four seats. That was until a late-boarding passenger got in my compartment and proceeded to sit next to me?  Did I have some invisible sign above my head saying “This man is lonely, sit next to him”?  But this was the second time that week where this had happened to me – empty carriage, then suddenly I have a new friend.  Had I been horrible in a previous life and this was some form of commuting karma on the 18.50?

My all-too-close neighbour began to entertain himself with that evening’s Standard.  Chewed pencil in hand, he duly went about completing the Sudoku. I’ve never seen anyone complete one so quickly; but then, I’ve never seen anyone using  the number 24 in one of the squares before.  Sudoku done, on to the crossword; and cryptic one at that!  I thought this man would struggle with “Hot beverage (3) “T” something “A”” let alone dig deep into his knowledge of Greek mythology to seek out possible answers.  However, I was wrong as the man next to me wrote HAEMOGLOBIN as one of the answers.  A considerable feat on two counts: one, it’s not the easiest word to spell and two, it’s not easy to get an eleven-letter word into seven-letter spaces!  He had completed the crossword (before we’d even got to Wandsworth Common) by using the word haemoglobin as every answer.  I assume he’d just learned the word?

However, it was just outside Balham when the flatulence began. Was this due to excitement of the speed in completing the Standard puzzle page?  Too many bubbles in his second can of Stella? Or bad diet?

I began commuting in 1974, the same year McDonalds opened their first restaurant in the UK. Before then, when I’d frequently visited my paternal grandmother in her council flat in St John’s Wood, the only food people would have on the train would be housed in Tupperware boxes (Tupperware was introduced into the UK in 1946 when the containers were used more for somewhere to put your ration book rather than actual food).

Before the influx of fast food, the only times you’d hear “take away” would be at primary school and if you’re nan had been collected by people in white coats as she’s thought she was Joan of Arc again (one of the many dangers of owning a three-bar fire). Nowadays, food available (especially at train stations) is manifold.  People will eat couscous (not remembering these were the people fighting in Kenya during the 60s); Sushi was the girl at school with a lisp and Vegan was one of the main characters in The Sweeney.

We are lucky in London that we have greater choice than we did in the 60s and 70s, when you had on one hand, top-end (unattainable) restaurants and hotels and at the other, cafes, where you came out smelling of what you’d just eaten and with nothing in between.

I’m going to write to British Rail asking them for a selection of new signs on their carriages: “NO FARTING”, “NO LOW HAEMOGLOBIN” OR EVEN “NO ONE ELSE”

More tea, Vicar?


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