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Standing up for oneself

June 5, 2013

Years ago you were allowed to smoke on the Tube. Each train would have two smoking carriages, usually the second one in from each end. I knew this because as a smoker you had to learn where to stand on the platform. Then at some point in the mid Eighties it got banned in the actual trains, but you could still smoke on the platforms until after the Kings Cross fire when the ban became total.
I tell this story to set the scene. It is probably about 1978 and I am smoking on the platform at Oxford Circus tube station, waiting for the northern-bound train to take me back up to University near Warren Street. The train arrives and it is heaving. I  push my way on to the train, just squeezing in as the doors close. I am leaning against one of the single doors that is at the end of the carriage. There is a large man in a cream mac facing me with his arms leaning against the carriage wall, either side of my head. It is as if he is bracong himself against the weight of all the people behind him.
I can’t look up as that would mean looking directly in to his eyes and I am a Londoner on the tube so I’m not going to do that. So I look down.
And see it.
A huge erect penis staring at me.
I reflexly looked away by lifting my head.
He is staring down at me, proudly displaying himself.
My first thought was that I could stub my cigarette out  in his prick and say “Handy little astray you’ve got there.” But I didn’t. My second thought was that if he was mad enough to do this, he was mad enough to have a knife on him. He’d cleverly positioned himself so that only I could see his member. He had me trapped between his arms and his mac splayed open, concealing it from anyone looking in from the side.
I wish I had spoken up. I wish I had said something. Anything. But I didn’t. Poleaxed by shock and an element of fear. And perhaps not wanting to make a fuss.  Never was I so glad to be getting off at the next stop.
As the door opened and I ducked out from under his arm and on to the platform, I saw him neatly press his mac to his body so that he was no longer exposed. He’d got what he wanted; a look of shock and fear from me and the thrill that it no doubt gave him.
When I told the person in the ticket office about it he asked if I’d got the bloke’s name and address for later as if it were all a joke. And the pathetic thing is I laughed along too. Not wanting to make a fuss I suppose. How times have changed.

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