Uneventful journey to Clapham Junction on Friday evening. Stick to new crucial plan of non-spending on non-essential items by buying gigantic bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk at South Ken and giant sausage roll at coffee stall at Clapham Junction. Pick up Woking train. Have just finished giant sausage roll and relaxing over Evening Standard when connecting door bursts open and hideous figure erupts into the carriage. Keep paper glued to nose. Can still see through paper though and instantly traumatised.
Is beggar, with spiel and demeanor straight out of medieval London. Am glad not still eating sausage roll. ‘Can you imagine, ladies and gentlemen, that five years ago I was in Her Majesty’s Forces?’ asks beggar. No, I can’t, actually. ‘Now I suffering from post traumatic war syndrome,’ beggar informs us, in scary voice, ‘And it’s been two weeks since the dressings on my legs were changed.’
Eerugh! Cannot risk looking up least see horrible sight. Do see horrible sight as beggar passes – naked, galled legs colour of pink ointment. Beggar not wearing trousers.
Beggar’s spiel is remorselessly emotionally effective. Beggar doesn’t wait to receive alms, but boldly goes up to each person on train and insists on receiving funds. ‘MISS?’ he says, approaching me. I dig out 50p. I cannot bear to look at him – but inadvertently catch another glimpse of horrible pink frankfurter legs.
‘More like post traumatic drugs syndrome’, I say confidentially to business man in mac opposite once beggar safely out of earshot. He disappointingly does not respond with the gales of laughter I was hoping for but cuts me dead.
Wonder how half-naked beggar get through gate controls at Waterloo. Wonder how he got on train under nose of guard. Did he take off trousers on train? Had he lost trousers prior to getting on train?
And then realise am suffering from Post Traumatic Commuter Syndrome – the actualitié.