176. 5pm. Top deck, a third of the way down on the left.
In the row in front of mine, two women in their mid-twenties were circling round a difficult topic – something to do with a relationship that was basically over but kept lurching back to life when everyone least expected it to. The woman on the left was keen to workshop this with the woman on the right, who seemed less keen, and the two of them performed the familiar dance of touching on a topic for a few moments, bouncing off to talk about something more lighthearted, returning for another instalment, darting away again, etc.
At one point, the woman on the right took out her smart phone and pulled up a YouTube video.
The woman on the left glanced at the screen. ‘Why are you looking at seals?’
‘They’re otters. Have you seen this one? It’s so cute, they’re bonding with their pups.’
‘Did you see the penguin programme the other day? You should get it on iPlayer, it’s so cute.’
‘Seriously, just watch this.’
The two women leaned close together to watch otters doing their thing online. They were quiet for a while. Then:
It was raining again, and the top deck’s damp coats were making its windows steam up. Someone had got as far as writing ‘MERRY CHR’ on the big window by the stairs before, I guess, moving on.