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Thursday 29th June 2006

Travelling back from another excellent performance of Grumpy Old Women (now in the middle of a West End run, well worth a look. It's beautifully script-edited), I was standing in a surprisingly full tube. There was a man next to me, right by the doors, who was wearing a backpack and listening to his iPod. There was no problem with this. The volume was low enough for it to be a personal experience for him. He made no attempt to connect tiny speakers so everyone in the carriage could enjoy his taste in music. In fact he did nothing wrong or offensive in any way. He seemed quiet and affable and in different circumstances perhaps we could have been friends. But as the doors opened at one station and he stood there in front of that gaping space I began to wonder about the feasibility of giving him a big push, just before the doors closed, so he landed on his bum on the platform to witness the train pulling away from the station without him and me standing in the window, laughing at him and flicking the vs. It was just one of those mad thoughts you get now and again and I was pretty sure I had no intention of doing it, but it seemed weirdly irresistible. The doors were there gaping, he was standing there, nonchalently with no idea what was going on in my evil brain, it would be a total surprise. And then as he looked up from me on the concourse as I started moving away I would be able to see the look of confusion mixed with anger on his face. Perhaps he would angrily shout "Why did you do that?" or "Wanker!" or "Why did you do that, wanker?" There would only be one way to find out how this man would react to this pointless prank.
There was a tiny chance he might get hurt (but his backpack would surely protect him), but bigger chance that I might mistime the push or not do it hard enough or that he would see me lunging at him and put up some resistance so we ended up fighting on the floor of the carriage. Or I might push him a bit too late and he'd then just bounce off the doors and want to know what my problem was. It was a risky plan, but it would all be made worthwhile if it came off and I could see his confused face and delay his journey by eight or nine minutes. Other people in the carriage might ask me why I had done it and I could proudly say, "No reason!" and then enjoy looking at their confused faces as they edged away from me.
I didn't do it though, because I respect the boundaries put up by society and also I was scared that I would end up getting hit, but it was a fun thing to imagine (possibly all crimes are more fun to plan than to actually carry out - the anticipation is 90% of most human experiences and the execution is usually a disappointment. So consider that any potential murderers out there).
And if nothing else I can at least send the idea off to the producers of Balls of Steel.
I wonder what other wicked plans people in that carriage had going through their minds. I wonder if all of them will have the retraint I showed.

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