A few men?
Just a couple?
Nope. Sorry folks, but I am here to report that in The Big Smoke, the sentiment of the season has yet to reach everyone.
I am usually one of a few thousand faceless, soulless, unblinking commuters passing through Victoria station. Through Monday to Thursday, sometime around 8:15am, and again at around 6:15pm I race across the concourse without looking left or right, but with my eyes firmly on the goal. Frankly, every other soul in the station could be dressed as the Easter bunny, and it's unlikely that I'd notice.
Today I have travelled to my ancestral home (a 70's housing estate in Kent) in anticipation of a friend's wedding tomorrow, so had to travel into Victoria on one line, and back out on another, giving me about half an hour to dilly-dally in the middle of the afternoon.
I purchased myself a gingerbread latte (from AMT. Tooting Tooting coffee rating ... 5 stars!) before taking my place in the under-timetable huddle. As I took in my surroundings, I saw that, in the middle of the station, the Salvation Army band was about to strike up.
There is nothing that quite warms the cockles of my heart like a nice brass band playing a carol or two. In The Bleak Midwinter is a particular fave. It makes me feel all festive and jolly and I can almost smell the mulled wine just listening to it (or is it a gingerbread latte?) so I was quietly thrilled that this would be my entertainment until the stampede for Platform 1.
Oh, it was lovely! I almost welled up a little bit! It was, I think, the first time that I have felt truly Christmassy this year. And then ...
I didn't notice the huddle of three girls next to me, but in retrospect I wonder how they'd passed me by. In uniforms of skinny jeans and Ugg boots (is it only me that thinks 'Minnie Mouse' whenever I see this look?), and laden with Primark paper bags, they were having a loud, and detailed, "he said, she said..." conversation, and my instincts told me that they were headed for the same train as me. I was making a mental note anyway to keep my eyes peeled and aim for another carriage, when the conversation stopped abruptly.
In a loud and uncharacteristically clear voice, the ringleader drawled, "What. The fuck. Is that ..." and pointed a terrifyingly manicured finger towards the band. Her friends turned to look, and one of them, a little embarrassed looking, said, "they're playing carols, innit? For Christmas? It's, like, Hark the Herald Angels or somefink?" (The question marks are there because that's how she phrased it. I blame Home and Away).
The finger pointer's jaw dropped. This was clearly the most shocking news she'd had in many a year. Without tearing her eyes off the Sally Annes, she turned her nose up and confirmed her feelings to all around her with the following immortal words ...
... "well it sounds fucking shit."
And god bless us ... every one.