On some nondescript winter day, perched upon a worn-out florescent blue and speckily red Tube seat, I looked up from the pages of my Albert Camus ‘The Stranger’ to find a long-haired man across from me reading the exact same Camus. How coincidental that we should be sitting opposite each other, on one of the many hundred-million-thousands of Tubes in London, on the very same carriage and at that exact moment, reading the same book. I was flummoxed and impressed and in awe and a little bit attracted to this long-haired existentially inclined commuter… I shuffled a little, removed ‘The Stranger’ from my lap, where it sat lazily and unpretentiously, and presented it to the entire carriage in a very showy-offy-way ‘Yes, I am reading Albert Camus. Yes, I am’. Realising I was not gaining much in the way of attention my attempt turned to a more ‘Ahem, attention! Everyone! I am reading ‘The Stranger’, ahem’, sort of half-sitting, half-statuesque stance. Mr. Long Hair did not flinch an eyelid. I deflated and relaxed back into my comfortable worn-out Tube chair without ever arousing in him the feeling of Reader Commuting Brotherhood that I was excitedly experiencing.
This blog is for all those who read whilst travelling, to re-establish that connection with other commuters where usually, despite the uncomfortable proximity, all association to one another diminishes completely aside for the painful shove or the whispered “excuse me’s”.