Thursday, 17 March 2011

Slug etiquette

The elderly city gent swayed onto the tube train as it stopped at Bank station. By elderly I mean he was cruising through to retirement, and sensibly should have gone and enjoyed his twilight years rather than sweat away in a city office. I'll say he was a gent because he was smartly dressed, not too smartly, but just and well presented. He sat down and the few glasses of alcohol - I'll bet gin and tonics - that he'd enjoyed that evening sent him quickly asleep. Some stops down the line, it became apparent there was a slug on the seat next to him - easily mistaken for a piece of chewing gum, it was betrayed by its desperate dash from one side of the cushion to the other. It then became a question of etiquette. Should the party of four middle agers, middle classers sitting opposite wake him up and warn him of his impending intimate companion. And if so how. The looks of surprise turned into smiles of puzzlement and then an elevated giggle broke out between them It had to be done, and a hand reached out and shook the City Gent gently. At first he didn't stir. The power of alcohol. But after the shakes became more vigorous with an added level of urgency as the slimy creature got closer to his jacket, he opened his eyes. "Sorry to disturb you, but there's a slug on the seat next to you and it's getting closer" said The Shaker. The City Gent looked across uncomprehending. So The Shaker repeated himself to the same response. It became necessary to say it again and again before The City Gent replied, "I'm sorry I have no idea what you are saying". At which point all four of the middle agers, middle classers chimed and pointed in unison, "There's a slug on the seat next to you and it's getting closer." That did the trick, and The Gent looked down. His faced gained an element of surprise. "Well what do I do?" he questioned. "Move down a few seats" was the suggestion from The Four. But The Gent was wiser and never one to shirk a challenge. From his suit he took his wallet and extracted his City Business Card. "You don't need to give him your business card" joked one of the four; a comment which was met with a look that was half-comprehending, half wondering about its seriousness. The gent put the card down in front of the slug and encouraged it on with a few kind words. The slug, not encouraged at all by the words, slid forwards. A cheer went up from The Four.

Meanwhile,further down the carriage, a young man with modern music blasting into his ears looked on misunderstanding all. He chose his moment. Red faced he stood up, paused and said, "What are you doing. We all like a drink. Leave him alone." The Four turned as one and spoke as four. Amongst the babble somewhere was the fair and true explanation about the adventures of the slug. The Red Faced Man was a disbeliever but didn't quite have the words he wanted. there was more babbling, so he slumped down again, but not in such a way that he couldn't leap up and make his verbal aggression turn to the physical.

At this point The Gent became the Samaritan, turned towards the Red Faced Man to say, "What's your problem." It was a statement not a question. Silence from the far end of the carriage until The Red Faced Man rescued himself by commenting, "I could eat it if you like."

For a few further minutes an uneasy peace held whilst the slug continued to do circuits of The City Gents business card oblivious to the bother it had caused until it was time for Red Faced Man, The City Gent and his friendly slug to leave at the next station. The only trace of the incident of slug in the night were the slimy trails on the seat cushions.

By comparison, meeting Fergal Sharkey at the bar of the HMV Apollo a couple of hours earlier was much less surreal. Lovely, polite, friendly fellow and still afeared of his mother. I'd recommend you go and see The Decemberists who put on a very fine show indeed.

Anyway, any excuse to put on some Fergal Sharkey.

And not to miss out on The Decemberists