In no place is a happy couple less welcome than on a packed commuter train.
Whilst love and a successful relationship may be celebrated the world over as some of the ultimate achievements in life, it is best to appear alone and miserable when travelling to work.
I can say this both as a commuter and as a member of the contented clan. I am happy – I wear a ring on my finger and I may even look down every now and then and smile at it, but within the hours of 7.30 and 9am that is as far as it goes.
Yes, we do occasionally travel into central London together, but such is the level of distance that Mr Ring Purchaser keeps from me, you’d find yourself hoping he’s kept the receipt. “I’m leaving at the same time as you so we can go in together,” I said this morning. “Ok, but I want to read my book,” he replied. It’s the kind of romance that teenage dreams are made of.
But he has a point – commuting is essentially about staring in one direction – whether it be the direction of a newspaper, a book, a phone, or just mindlessly ahead – it is not for staring into your lover’s eyes. And preferably not into the intimate details of a stranger’s relationship either.
Gaining a seat on the tube during rush hour is a big achievement but occasionally it comes at a price. Yesterday, for example, I was sat below and before a couple who were not aware of the commuter code. Let’s call them Love’s Young Dream, and London’s Worst Nightmare. Many a hug, many a kiss and many giggle did they share – the calling cards of the happy. And in any other situation this is perfectly reasonable (if slightly sickening to the onlooker) behaviour. But the contrast between their smiles and the grave looks of the rest of the carriage crowd was so stark that it made such demonstrations of affection intolerable. How dare they bring their actual, happy lives with them onto the train – there’s no room for real or measured emotion in here.
It is best, as I have said before, just to pretend that one is not there whilst travelling. Pretend to be invisible, squeeze in, and remember that real life awaits at the end of the line. Consider the morning tube to be a place to practice abstinence, if only for the sake of those around you – some of whom may have their face dangerously close to your crotch/armpit – and save the rest for later in the day, and preferably a different setting. Unless, of course, you’re going to have a row. Definitely do that on the train, it really helps break up the journey for other passengers.