Chingford to Oxford Circus (Via Walthamstow Central)

We’re on the 07:14.
Doing alright, it’s fairly quiet
And mask wearing’s mostly observed
Although the fella in the coffee kiosk is wearing his on his chin
While speaking to a single customer
Who’s going to have a dilemma when he gets on the train, having been served.
One man is putting his on as he gets on board,
Leaving it until the last minute to be suitably attired.
You suspect that he doesn’t want to wear it a moment longer than required.

The next stop is Walthamstow Central and onto the Victoria Line.
The man opposite and across one has got a black mask on which looks fine
But his nose is poking out, presumably stopping his glasses steaming up while he does the crossword,
Taking his time between clues, one of which is his bag for life which seems to be living up to its name.
A quick glance down the carriage reveals two more noses on display.

On the seat next to me is the bag that belongs to the woman sat on the next seat but one
From which she produces a standard issue blue non-surgical facemask, you know the one,
Which she hooks over her ears covering her nose and mouth in one go
Then flaps out the sides to try to get the air to flow
Then pulls it down past her nose
Then down past her chin.
Now mouth and nose comfortably exposed
She relaxes and shuts her eyes,
Civic duty done and undone in one two-minute pantomime.
The gaze of the woman two seats further down remains neutral,
Her mask is worn impeccably and you know she’s seen it all and you can sense her disapproval.

Gap Year Kid opposite is wearing his properly too,
His grubby surf chic suggesting that his bulging rucksack
Contains laundry going back a week or maybe two,
Whereas Snood (neck tube?) Guy’s face covering has slipped past his nose unchecked
And by the time he takes the seat vacated by Gap Year Kid
It’s completely round his neck.
He evades my stare by deploying his mobile phone.
He’s not alone,
Cool Fella in the straight brim baseball cap is another nose exposer,
Soon to be a mouth and noser.
If he thinks the risks aren’t worthy
Why does he reposition from the standing seat at the end of the carriage
To the pole in the middle by the double doors
As the train fills up on its southbound journey?
Although it’s nowhere near as busy as a pre-lockdown ride would have been.

The return trip will include more who comply, part comply, or let the rules simply pass them by
And a man who will be determined to be the first off the Chingford train
Although there seems little for him to gain
(He’ll be first to the hand sanitiser too)
But then he won’t want to touch the door control button and so
Will make an awkward attempt with the tip of his elbow.

But the next stop is Oxford Circus
And we’ve got business above ground.

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