“ Alright Mun!” said the young lawyer.
“ Keep your hair on will you!”
It was somewhat ironic really, as Welsh Barrister Leo Felix was only 23 but his fair hair was already receding more than a Norfolk beach at High tide.
“What are you doing in there… you nonce?” shouted an angry commuter, as he repeated banged on the lower half of the train WC cubicle door.
He thought about warning the angry man that what he had just said in front of his fellow passengers was actionable as a slander, but sight unseen he suspected that the individual wouldn’t have cared less nor had the wherewithal to fund defamation damages in the High Court of Justice.
The Virgin train from Cardiff Central to Paddington was packed to the rafters with passengers heading to London for work on a busy December Monday morning and the extra load of women and excited children heading to see Santa Claus and for Christmas shopping meant it resembled the ‘Sardine Express’ rather than the Polar one.
Leo didn’t normally use public toilets but on this occasion would have missed the train, if he had used the ones located on the platform.
Boy did he regret his usual practice of standing up urinating and racing the flush to see would finish first.
Mainly because he had bent down to tie his shoelace and his expensive mobile phone had shot out of his top shirt pocket into the toilet pan and surfed its way around the u-bend before he could do anything about it.
His efforts to retrieve the same with his slender arms had not returned anything that even remotely resembled a mobile phone.
The Virgin Train Japanese- style talking toilet was angry too at the new deposit and kept suggesting he see his Bowel Doctor immediately.
The banging of the Neanderthal on the door intensified into punches.
Leo wondered if it was a Cockney Mike Tyson outside.
He knew he would have to leave the cubicle with some dignity after the slur but also knew from playground experience that he was most certainly not a boxer.
He needed that phone as his life was on it.
Like most modern- day young professionals -his life depended on it.
He had his diary on it, banked on it, checked the weather forecast, train times and of course the news headlines. He even made phone-calls on it too.
How would he live without it?
That was the purpose God Almighty had made humans with opposable thumbs for.
He knew he would have to face the music and leave the cubicle.
As he slid back the metal door lock, he was surprised to find that his abuser wasn’t a six- foot six builder with muscles on his muscles- but a four foot two dwarf.
Leo was used to looking down the nose at most people but on this occasion he really felt empowered.
“Sorry….I hope you weren’t caught ‘short’ by my time in there, but I accidentally flushed my mobile down the lavatory….perhaps given your size you might like to swim around the u-bend and get it back for me?” said the Barrister.
It was the last thing he remembered before the searing pain caused by the dwarf headbutting him in the bollocks.
Leo staggered to his seat.
Not only had he lost his mobile phone, but also his dignity and very likely his ability to reproduce children.
“Don’t worry luv!” whispered a kind old Welsh lady sat opposite him.
“That little fella is a professional wrestler called ‘Lowdown’ and that was his speciality move
Rubbing his aching testicles, he knew that his ‘Game of Thrones’ had not been engineered to hog the toilet- it was just circumstances.
“Tickets please!” announced the conductor.
Leo reached for his phone but it wasn’t there.
His season train ticket barcode was on his phone.
Try explaining that to an angry 40- year old Virgin.
“Where does the toilet flush too?” asked Leo.
“Does it go into a sealed unit?” asked the barrister hopefully.
“No- was the train stationary when you went?” Asked the conductor.
“Yes!” said the mobile-less passenger.
“A little jerk caused the loss!” said Leo looking revengefully at Lowdown.
“Since leaving the European Union in January 2020- there are no longer any environmental control, so the waste gets distributed directly onto the track!” said the rail employee as if reading directly from a Company propaganda edict.
“Didn’t your Mother ever tell you not to go to the toilet when the train is in the Station?” he continued.
Leo knew then that he was in trouble.
What if someone found the phone, cracked the Personal Identification Number and found out all his personal information?
But then again it would take some kind of a genius to crack into his phone.
He had client’s data on there, sensitive information for work as well that could be used for evil purposes if it fell into the wrong hands.
His sharp mind was already working overtime and the worst part was he couldn’t even bill a client for it.
As he came to terms with his electronic loss, it felt like a family bereavement had hit him.
He had withdrawal symptoms as he went cold turkey.
He felt insanely jealous that the other passengers were all looking at their mobile phones.
The carriage was silent with no chatter, as the modern generation displayed their social inability.
Even the Welsh Pensioner was doing a sudoku.
It was as everyone present wanted to be somewhere else.
Leo had no other option but to look out of the window and was surprised to see the late Autumnal colours changing into Winter, as the last remaining deciduous trees shed their coats and froze like the rest of mankind in the former United Kingdom.
He was entranced with the beauty of the English Countryside, something he had never before appreciated with his face down squinting at his mobile screen.
There were so many different colours and hues, flashing past, ranging from yellow to brown to red.
Mother Nature’s palette really was a sight to behold.
And the strange part of it was it was only he that was interested in the beautiful scene.
As the train flew through Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire, Leo felt a pang of home sickness leaving behind his Home Country to work all weekend in the Smoke with its overpopulation, pollution and 24-hour noise.
If New York was the City that never sleeps then its insomnia problem had been exported across the Pond and Post-Brexit was affecting the British too with its’ capitalist disease.
When America sneezes Britain catches a cold.
Now they had just had a massive Trump and the shit fallout was everywhere.
Each City looked just like a carbon copy of the next with KFC and McDonald’s on every street corner of the concrete jungles.
Food standards had dropped since the exit from the European Union and it was now difficult to work out whether it was the pollution, the chlorinated chicken or the increased permissible quota of rat hairs in the kebabs that were making people ill.
The more profitable parts of the NHS had been sold off to giant American pharmaceutical companies who now had a monopoly on legal drugs.
Great Britain had become Little Britain with zero-hours contracts the norm and a return to the Great Depression days of the 1930’s, where 200 hundred men would turn up at the gates of the London Docks in the hope of work, where only 20 were needed.
The divide between rich and poor in society had widened to those of Victorian times, with great stretches of former Labour areas now a forgotten wasteland.
Leo, ironically, on the other hand had never known real hunger but was about to get a ‘taste’ of it.
As he disembarked from the train at Paddington station, he usually bought a Marmalade sandwich from the theme shop at Mr Brown’s.
But he didn’t have his credit card.
To his horror, he remembered it was tucked in the front flap of his mobile cover which was still languishing on a rail track somewhere between Cardiff and Monmouthshire.
He stared at the sandwiches in the window, felling hungry from his long journey but unable to buy one.
It wasn’t from lack of money, he just didn’t have the means of payment.
He read the sign above the counter which said ‘Cash Only- No credit- a refusal often offends’.
Most businesses in the Smoke preferred cash as it could be hidden under the bed, as it was only the black-market economy that kept them solvent, as the rest of Britain owed more to the financial institutions than ever following the downgrading of our International credit rating in 2020.
Leo thought of his home town of Merthyr Tydfil, which had more barbers per head than Seville in Spain but strangely all kept going. He knew people in Merthyr were hairy but not THAT hairy.
It must be the black mullet economy at work.
The smell of roast chestnuts in a brazier tantalised him as he walked towards the guard on the turnstile checking for tickets.
He knew that he would trouble with his thick Welsh Valleys accent explaining why he didn’t have a ticket.
No-one in London had any time for that sort of thing.
He knew from past observation that the people would run up moving escalators and just like laboratory rats within ten minutes he would be absorbed by their unceasing rush to get somewhere else.
He tried explaining it to the guard, who was busy enjoying his power trip, raising an eyebrow or two before letting him through with a satisfactory smile, in the tacit knowledge that Leo had now missed his tube connection to Oxford Street Station.
As he waited for a further ten minutes on the subterranean platform, he felt that scary feeling of a cold wind being forced down the tunnel by the movement of the train.
It was then the usual free-for- all as people pushed and shoved to get onto the crowded tube before the electronic guard-less doors shut on people, taking shopping bags, fingers, hands and small children away from the lucky occupants who had made the interior of the carriage.
He knew he would be late getting home as the trains from Wales were rarely on time.
Thankfully, he had used his day off in lieu – sometimes it paid to be self-employed when it came to time off.
He knew in the crazy World of London that he was just another number and in reality, few people would miss him.
As Leo was something of a workaholic, he rarely took time off as he was trying to build up his client base- and he knew that there were few people who would care, if he was ever pushed under a Boris bendy Bus or a tube train- besides his elderly Mother and Father and of course his live-in lover for the past year- Kitty.
He knew that she worried about constantly and would be having kittens, if he didn’t turn up when expected.
Kitty rarely went out due to her agoraphobia and the sound of his key in the apartment door was always greeted with much enthusiasm.
For now, he couldn’t move a muscle, he felt a touch of the condition in that as he was trapped in a small metal train hurtling at 40 mph through heavily graffitied Victorian tunnels with the smell of stale piss and body odour all too evident to his senses.
Everyone around him like a kaleidoscope of colours and a melting pot of cultures and nations.
The majority seemed to have ‘earbuds’ and be listening to grime music or Adele or Ed Sheeran.
They were all so insular, afraid to look each other in the eye or smile.
Leo now minus his I-phone could just like 1970’s reggae artist Johnny Nash see clearly now.
What a society he lived in.
He was still suffering from his technology withdrawal syndrome when he spoke to the woman next to him.
He didn’t manage to finish his sentence before he was sprayed in the face with Mace.
The young woman had jumped a mile.
What sort of person speaks to someone on the Tube?
A scuffle broke out and once again Leo was the subject of an assault.
He had also lost his expensive watch in the kerfuffle.
But which one of these people had taken it.
He was always good at Cluedo as a young lad, but up here the colours were not Scarlett, Peacock, Mustard, Plum or Green.
It had not been a good journey home to the English capital- as he was now down a mobile phone, a watch, had bruised knackers and been sprayed in the face with pepper spray.
As he exited the tube-station he had to spend another ten minutes arguing with the guard before being let through towards actual daylight.
It was called actual daylight, but in reality, the limited light from the late Autumnal sun was so high above the skyscrapers and high-rise blocks, it was barely visible over the highly polluted trapped smog of car fumes in the English Capital.
Leo had always wondered why London was nicknamed the Smoke- now he had his answer.
Now minus his mobile, he had a clearer picture of the Earth that the parasite known as Mankind was busily destroying.
He had no money to hail a cab, so he had no other option than to walk the rest of the way home, dodging people walking with mobile phones like crosses in front of them, which is easier said than done on busy London streets that even Verve Singer Richard Ashcroft would find hard to negotiate.
With new eyes, he witnessed people too engrossed with their cyber life to care about oncoming traffic, as they stepped out both individually and on mass at crossings with red lights causing London Hackney drivers to swear in Cockney Rhyming slang at the careless pedestrians.
Cries of ‘Jeremy Hunt’ and ‘Mike Catt’ were everywhere.
Leo couldn’t believe that the new species of human was hypnotised into staring at their mobile screens rather than participating in the REAL World.
What was becoming of our society, where the origin of the species and evolution of humankind had led to this advanced state of electronic paralysis.
True- Mother Nature’s only trump card- the survival of the fittest had meant that lots of these idiots had now been run over and with NHS waiting times fortunately had not survived.
He was now only a block away and thought he would as usual stop at the local chip shop to take home a fish supper for his nearest and dearest.
Regrettably, once again, he patted his top pocket and realised he had no means of payment.
He was starving and he bet his Missus was too, after a weekend stuck in that flat.
As he reached the entrance door, he noticed the sign said ‘Lift out of Order’.
He knew it hadn’t been his day, but to have to climb fourteen separate flights of stairs with added fire- retarded cladding, meant he had lost two stone in perspiration by the reached his apartment door.
Thank goodness it was nearly Winter.
London’s burning alright he thought, as he fumbled for his key.
As he opened the door, he noticed that his love was in the kitchen but he had more pressing matters.
His landline was ringing.
Strange he thought, as very few people had his number as it was ex-directory.
It must be his Mother ringing to remind him that he had once again left the ready meals she had made him on the kitchen table.
He really loved his Mam’s Welsh cooking too.
As he closed then deadlocked the door, he raced to the phone and answered it hesitantly.
It was NOT Lionel Ritchie.
“Is this London 01 378695?”
Perhaps thought Leo some honest person has found his phone.
His mind raced and in a split second he realised that whoever was phoning must have gained access his phone and potentially could see what embarrassing pictures he held in his phone gallery.
The one of him with his arm around Prince Andrew in the Woking Pizza Express.
The one of him shaking hands with Wiki-leeks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
A photograph of him welcoming Donald Trump to Britain at his golf course in Scotland.
Surely no-one could have broken into his phone this quickly?
He thought then of Hollywood actress, Jennifer Lawrence and the hacked naked photographs from her I-cloud account which now all over the internet.
“Yes!” stuttered the barrister for once lost for words
It was not the voice of a genius but a ten- year old Gurnos schoolkid, called Mitch Daley.
“This must be the cat shagger then?”