Liverpool Street Station, 11pm. The heartbeat of London's Financial Center and I am sitting on a bench on the platform, waiting for the Hammersmith and City Line to take me back to West London.
Two women teeter down the vertiginous stairs. Both look in their 40s, are well dressed and wearing high heels, the weapon of choice for the forty-something predatory female. The blonde one carries a briefcase and visibly sways as she veers towards a pillar to steady her, the heels are so high, black, shiny patent leather, a Dominatrix’ vicious delicious dream. She looks a bit mix-matched, as she is wearing a stern below the knees black business suit. The other one is dark haired, dressed in skinny jeans and a sequined backless top. Both are beautifully groomed and made up.
Both are also very visibly drunk. The dark haired woman lurches towards the bench and asks in a loud syrupy voice
"How do I get home? I need to get the Northern Line. "
The young students sitting next to me tell her to take the next train one stop to Moorgate and change.
"Oh, I'm going South? I thought I was going North. . . " I wonder how she is going to make it home.
The kids, who are stone cod sober pick up on her accent, one of them is a fellow Joburger.
They start some banter, she tells them she is a doctor and that one of the boys has a sticky outy problem. He is pierced and 2 scary looking metal spikes protrude from below his lower lip. It isn't a good look, she persists, never mind the problems with bacteria.
"I love my man, " she sounds young and lovestruck, for a moment. The harshness and botox enhanced face grow softer, “But I ‘ll never tell him. "
She is satisfied that she has found the answer to her own dilemma.
"You could tell him when you get home, " suggests the young South African woman, who is without spikes.
"Oh no, he doesn't live with me, darling, he lives in his own home. I'd never tell him, you tell a woman and it's like, right. That's it then. You never tell a guy. We so different, men and women. But I might give him one of those terrible phone-calls when I get home, you know and tell him he is in for something great.
You know what you had last night? Well that was nothing. . . wait and see what you got coming next. "
The train pulls up. I am pleased the students are boarding the same one, at least she'll make it to the next stop where she has to change. The blonde one steers herself with a great deal of concentration into the train and then falls into a heap onto a chair. She is out of her head. What are these women drinking to runaway away from?
What lies we tell ourselves to win at the game. I am secretly pleased that I am not drunk or teetering, even though I am forty-something and I still don't have a clue how to play at love. But I have stopped running.