As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways

October 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

“As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into a mirror”, said Virginia Woolf.  (Not that I would know: Sarah Blakewell tells me).

I can safely say that I have never in my life felt that way.  Indeed, I can’t think of a statement more antithetic to my entire experience.  (It explains perhaps why I have never been able to muster the necessary enthusiasm to pick up a Woolf:  I must have sensed through the general lit-vine that we’re not from the same planet.  It will certainly be why I never do now).

Indeed, my greatest problem in omnibuses and railway cars is where to sit to minimize exposure to humanity:  do I sit in the side benches, where I will be obliged to catch a glimpse of people across the aisle, but will have no one sitting behind me?  Or do I sit in the the front row seat, where I may be free from seeing people (perhaps by way of looking out the window), but risk having someone sit behind me, hearing him talk on the phone and smelling his breath?

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