Dateline: 18.02, 28.03.14, Piccadilly line, Westbound, last carriage
She is by the door, staring determinedly into the other carriage, having commandeered the cushion she is meant to be leaning on; instead it has become an impromptu occasional table. The occasion, it appears, is getting ready for her Friday night out. iPhone is fished out of capacious bag, pink headphones plugged in, and then maquillage deployment can begin.
She sways as the tube sways, or it could be the rhythm of what she’s listening too – everything is a syncopated whole – and this remains true as lipstick follows mascara follows foundation: efficiency is winning in her impromptu mirror.
But it is when she starts singing, that is when my attention is caught properly, and also that of the woman standing next to me, who got on at Earls Court. As ‘Guantanamera’ floats between us, she smirks an uncontainable silent smirk and proceeds to type a note no doubt recording this particular Tube etiquette foible on her mobile.
A scrum of gallery goers at South Kensington deposit me closer to the occasional table; and acknowledging this, she unplugs and begins to talk.
She tells me, yes, I am one of those awful passengers – I even have a KFC in my bag. But I’m getting ready for a reason. My singing has a purpose. I’m learning the songs for my set later tonight. No, not karaoke, but cabaret. It’s what I live for. Teacher Monday to Friday, musical performer on the weekend. My biggest gig? I was in a T-Mobile advert once, singing round Heathrow; we were in the terminal after midnight, wandering round, emoting.
Leicester Square. I wish her luck for the night and forget to tell her she has lipstick on her teeth.
Labels: reportage friday night teacher cabaret