The adverts trailing the walls alongside the escalators in the tube have always intrigued me, indicative as they are of the inner London Zeitgeist. I'm as curious about the positioning of the worn out stubs of chewing gum as I am about the content.
Coasting up the escalators this week I was reminded of how when times are tough our proffered entertainment becomes increasingly surface, aggressively light-hearted.
There was the big, round, over-made- up face of Jimmy Osmond, mascaraed and foundationed within an inch of his middleagedness. He's in Grease, which I can just about fathom, and is shortly to move to Chicago where he's to play Billy Flynn - which I find entirely unimaginable and absurd. Wondering how the little cheeky chappie of Puppy Love fame can exude the slick, sleek, sophisticated, manipulative odour of Mr Flynn (Bryan Ferry would be MY choice), nearly had me tripping over the last moving step and into the unsuspecting back of my fellow commuters.
And then there was Dame Edna Norton. Sorry, Graham. He's starring in La Cage aux Folles as Albin the drag queen. I felt as if I'd fallen back into the seventies, goggling in surprise at Danny La Rue. There were the huge ads for six packs if you would only stick to a full-on gym regime and take a heady concoction of supplements. And on it went. It was bizarre - this determinedly showbizzy presentation of life when all around me people were looking grim.
The most serious thing I could find was an ad for using tissues to avoid spreading cold germs.
And in the train, squashed far too close to everyone else in the Friday rush hour, I overheard parts of a truly odd conversation. It became clear that a teacher was talking about a colleague who was having an inappropriate relationship with a sixteen year old student. The word inappropriate was his, but he felt it wouldn't do him any good reporting it, and as the student was sixteen, it was kind of alright, wasn't it? But, he hummed and hawed, it was never really alright if you were the teacher and the sixteen year old was your student, was it? I could hear him tussling with what he'd like to call his conscience, and failing to come to any conclusions either way. The young woman he was talking to was decidedly not sitting on the fence; it was wrong in her eyes, a teacher taking advantage of a situation where a pupil should be able to trust them to do the right thing.
It reminded me of my history teacher who went out with and then married an ex-pupil shortly after she left the school. And the girl student who stole a male teacher away from his fiancee who also taught at the school. And the teacher who was mentally abusive and cruel to a pupil he went out with immediately after she left school, and.....
Life is much simpler, back in Devon. No escalators with ads, no eavesdropping train crushes. Just the odd bit of burglary, arson or murder.