Monday, 9 November 2009

Strange Addiction

It's a cold clear Wednesday morning and I'm on a train home from Stafford, where I delivered a Vauxhall Astra an hour or so ago to an Arnold Clark dealership on the edge of the town. I'm in a glum frame of mind following a disagreement with my controller over traveling expenses, which has led to me turning down the only other job they had offered me today.

The train pulls into Wolverhampton and a couple of  middle-aged guys get on board. They are casually dressed, bordering on scruffy. One is white, the other looks Indian, although he talks with the same Black Country accent as his friend, with not the slightest trace of any other influence.

'Turns your legs to jelly,' the Indian-looking guy says, continuing a conversation begun before they arrived within range of my eavesdropping ears, 'you just want to get somewhere safe to sit down, but you have to keep going to the toilet, you drink a lot of fruit juice with it. You're walking to the toilet and you're thinking "Am I walking straight?"'

His friend laughs - 'Sounds good to me!'

'Does to me too but I'm am addict!'

More chuckles.

Addicted to what? I strain to hear more, but once the train is moving again I can only pick up the odd snippet.

'I've been along to that Horizons walk-in centre, but they can't do nothing for you, it's not classed as a drug.'

He goes on to say something about the YMCA which I can't catch, and then the conversation moves on to other thing - football, drinking, ex-girlfriends, marriages, divorces - just about every stereotypical bloke topic is covered in a way which seems to give no hint that they are anything other than a couple of everyday working class guys.

We are not far from New Street when the apparent addict begins talking about fishing -

'I found this great little spot on the canal, up past Four Ashes. And there was a sub-post office just round the corner! Great days!'

His laughter has that hint of bravado of someone who knows they are doing something 'bad'.

Can his mysterious drug of choice be bought in a post office? Glue perhaps? But surely solvent abuse is classed as a drug problem? Marker pens? It must be something as odd as that.

The train pulls into New Street, the final destination, and we all disembark. They walk along the platform in front of me, still smiling and joking about something or other, and looking generally more carefree than most of the other morning commuters, whatever they might be hooked on and whatever they are up to.

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