I shat myself on the train. I’m not saying I was on my way to some big-time job and lost my bottle. Or I said something bad out loud to Teddy again and thought, Balls, what have I said now? I wasn’t scared or nothing; it wasn’t that kind of shitting myself. I mean I actually shat my pants; I couldn’t believe it.
I was back home in London for a visit, and it wasn’t going well. Not only had my aunt Mabel died, but my sister had married some total wanker with black-rimmed glasses, and he’d tried to hug me like I was his mate. I’ve never met you; so don’t touch me, you four-eyed tit. Anyway, there I was on the shit-slow eight o’clock train, on my way from Eltham to Charing Cross. Everyone was off to work in a bad mood, and it was raining. It was hot, heavy rain that made your brain hurt. I already felt sweaty, and the dark circles under my armpits were getting worse. Agitated, I was, my eyes darting around trying to find something to take my mind off. The carriage was packed full of South Londoners moaning about the weather and texting unhappy faces to their friends. I hate that. Little commas and brackets all together making a frown or a smile. If I texted them I’d make a turd shape. I tried staring a couple of them down, but they didn’t notice — too busy sending out shit emoticons.
There was a bloke sitting opposite me on his mobile phone, fiddling with his Burberry cap, talking to his friend Dave. At first I didn’t mind. At least he was just talking, and not effing around with his thumbs on the buttons.
“So, Dave,” he was saying. “Where’s Dal got to? He ain’t been down the pub for five nights in a row.”
There was a pause. He looked genuinely shocked, and his cheeks went as red as my aunt Mabel’s eyes.
“Paris? Gay Par-ee? What a wanker.”
Now, that made me laugh; not a lot does these days, but that did. It just tickled me. It was a short, sharp laugh, an abrupt laugh, and it made an impression on my stomach. I had that curry the night before with Harry Chipolata. His real name’s Harry Chapman, but we call him Chipolata on account of his stumpy fat fingers. Anyway, I got the lamb passanda like I always do, and I thought it tasted a bit funny at the time, but I was so hungry after a few lagers that I ate it anyway. I knew deep down I shouldn’t have had it, but what can you do, it was there in front of me, chutneys on the side, tiny bastard chopped almonds on top, all that rice. It had to happen. Harry was shoving in his vindaloo like it was tomato soup. He’s a fat bastard, and he doesn’t care what he eats and when. He’s got a right gob on him; I swear you can see all the way down to his fat little tonsils.
Anyway, my stomach had been making funny sounds since I’d got out of bed that morning, but you’ve got to get on with the day, can’t let that stop you, a bit of noise. I’d got on the train — of course I did — melting on the nylon seat, the purple and blue swirls making my eyes hurt. But the laugh forced out a small amount of substance. I couldn’t do anything about it; I don’t think anyone heard, but it was the smell. It penetrated all the air we had — the train carriage was packed, small and crowded. I could hear people sniffing all around me, trying to work out what twat had let one go. People were trying to edge away but they couldn’t move until the train got into the station, so they could file out of the carriage one by one like sheep, like stupid, steaming pellets.
Burberry man opposite finished his conversation. “All right, Dave, got to go. I’m on the train and someone’s shat themselves.” He looked right at me.
That well pissed me off; it was because of him that I’d shat myself in the first place, the dickhead, Burberry-hat wanker. You complete berk, I thought, shut it. I grabbed the hat; it was annoying me. I threw it out the window; someone had already opened it to let in some fresh air, not that it had done a lot of good. I could feel the site of the stench, wet and warm between my cheeks, and it wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, there would be more of it very soon, rotting lamb and lime pickle chilies making their way down to earth. I could feel another rumble.
He pulled at my shirt, the white Lacoste one — cost me, that did. “That was my hat,” he said. “It’s not my fault you stink.”
Well, that did it. I shoved his head out the window. “Get some more fresh air, you cocky Burberry git. See how you like it out there.”
The girl sitting next to the window gasped and put her hand on her mouth like they do in cartoons. She was wearing one of those horrible blouses with the puffed-out shoulders, like she was an overdressed sumo wrestler. Stupid.
“What’s the matter with you?” I said. “Let the man have some air.”
“Nothing,” she said, and looked away. She shifted her hand up to cover her nose. I saw her doing it, the silly cow.
So there I was, Burberry’s head in one hand, the edge of the window in the other for support. I was a bit distracted by the girl’s exaggerated gasp, the sleeves, and her hand movement, the lot of them getting right on my wick. I didn’t know we were going towards the tunnel, or I would have pulled Burberry back inside, to be fair. And how could I know his scalp would scratch the edges? He shouldn’t have been such a smug bastard, with such a big spam-head. What do you think I am, a psychic, a shitting fortune-teller? Twats.