Friday, October 20, 2006

Moxy & Madness

My reign of terror and crime as a Mersey Rail passenger came to a sticky end yesterday when I was caught not having a valid ticket. I adopted a "it's a fair cop" type attitude and provided the gentleman with as much information as he required, stuffed the £20 penalty notice in my pocket and bit him fair thee well. I wasn't bothered as I hadn't paid a penny for three weeks saving myself £45. It was an inevitability that I'd get caught, and getting off the train and spotting the ticket collectors I felt like the mayor of Hiroshima- I could see it coming but little I could do about it.

I've been caught a few times previously, but not since the bleak autumn of 1999 when I was caught- tried to lie my way out of it giving a false name, false address, panicked when they phoned up to check my address, lied some more, tried to run, got caught (ripping my all time favourite coat*), 'fessed up, brought out my switch card, was accused of stealing someone else's bank card (as it had my name on it not the false one I had provided) paid the meagre £10 fine and proceed to avoid public transport of any kind for nearly two months for fear of reprisal. At the time I was devastated, but on reflection I needn't have been seeing I had not paid my daily £3 fare for nearly three months- so I was certainly still in the 'plus'. Obviously living in this city has hardened me in a way I'm not particularly proud about.

I once saw a late night film starring James Coburn, the name of which escapes me, romanticising the train hopping life in the depression era America. I enjoyed this film immensely and in one of many Walter Mitty moments I imagined myself as of these noble hobos of the rail. God I need to get out more, other wise I'll soon be trying to replicate one of my all time favourite films :'Cool Hand Luke' and in all honesty I don't think I'd be very good at being a member of the chain gang in the deep south as my complexion wouldn't handle the heat- plus I don't like eggs.

*my "tele-tubbie coat" – a fleece jacket with a pointy hood. On the very first day I wore it I felt chuffing marvellous, until two drunken local types, proceeded to follow me down Renshaw Street laughing a me calling me a Tele Tubby. Paralysed with fear I kept my hood up and walked on at break neck speed, thoroughly dejected and demoralised. Further to the effect of becoming a city dweller, should this have occurred today I would like to think that I would have confronted the two men in question. Sadly I have progressed to confronting people but unable to follow it up. A good example was last weekend when I confronted 15 or so drunken Rugby League fans on the late night train from Manchester when they were making really sleazy and derogatory remarks about a friend of mine and what they'd like to "do" with her arse.

"Come on guys, we can fucking hear you!" I shouted over in an caustic and loud voice- giving them a unsavoury and surly stare. I instantly thought "uh oh". I averted my gaze and tried to make small talk with my friends. A moment later I felt a tap on my shoulder and the main pervert/culprit/knuckle dragger wanted to shake my hand for "having the balls to defend her"…at least that's what I think he said, I couldn't hear anything except the violent pounding of my heart, but it was certainly words to that effect. Had this been the great railroads of the depression era America, he would have said "I like your moxy kid" which would have been much cooler, sadly thus far in my life no one has said that to me, then offered me a job like I've seen in so many films.

I then spent the next twenty minutes plotting a quick exit should they decide to kill me. Essentially, I've become quicker to shoot my mouth off at the wrong people. Hardly progress I agree- regression if anything. As a rambunctious youth (okay- I was a smart alec), I did have a habit of not being able to keep my mouth shut, this was beaten out of my by the plethora of older kids whom I had conflicts with. I know I'm rambling here, but the worst occasion was when I was 14 on the top tennis courts at school when our football had escaped from one of the many holes in the fence. The ball had stooped by the feet of a kid in the fifth year, who ignored our requests to kick the ball back and proceeded to boot it on to the first year block's roof. I shouted some abuse at him, and to my surprise he slowly walked over to us, flicking his fag away whist doing so.


"Did you say that?" he sneered.

Another moment to do myself proud…"no it was him" I said pointing to our year group's whipping boy, Fryer. He walked over to him and preceded to twat him hard about his head until he fell to the floor. As the twenty or so of us watched silently- no one having the guts to step in. I felt guilty as hell, but as he walked away sparking up another cigarette, Fryer got to his feet and gingerly carried himself off to the school matron with his bloody nose, limping badly, I realised that could have been me and that was a blessed relief.

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