The 1407 direct line to Walsall had been delayed, but the doors were shut ready for departure. Two men with name tags on indicating that they were from the same instituation pressed the buttons to open the door in vain, but there attempts to board were fruitless. The larger of the two men let out a spasmodic howl of anger as the train left the platform, sticking his face in threatening proximity to the drivers in their carriage, who looked on efficiently like train drivers do. I decided against consoling the two men saying that they shouldn’t mind as the 1417 was due any moment, as I guessed, judging by the foul mood that they were in, they would have probably taken umbrage at my laissez-faire attitude to their plight and I probably would have got a thumping. I walked down the platform away from the angry scenes, and waited patiently for the train to come.
Nevertheless the 1417 came in at 1420, and I boarded. After staring firmly out the window as the train went over the ‘Eastside’ area of Digbeth and then making it’s stop at Duddeston, I looked around at my fellow passengers. I noticed that the men from earlier were occupying the seats across the aisle from me, their anger now subsiding possibly in the light of the fact that they were now accompanied somebody else who came from the same institution, an very attractive black girl, with pouting lips and curls in her hair. However, something else interested me more. The train window was partly obscured by several tags of the blocky variety with had been spray-painted on that particular carriage. I was impressed. A fan of tagging, I became excited and waited eagerly for my stop so I could go out and survey the artistry. I could sense that the girl was looking at me. Admittedly I was looking rather buff so I wasn’t really that surprised that I had courted her attention, but I didn’t attempt to flirt because a) I’m spoken for and b) her two men friends may have become angry again and I probably would have got a thumping. So I reverted my eyes forward, and stared at the back of someone’s head until it was time to get up and disembark.
The tagging was a joy – the word ‘zine’ in blocky blue, two towers, one of light-green and one of white, with an orange border around them. There wasn’t much time to drink the sight in, so I whipped out my camera-phone and took a few snaps to go into my archive. Luckily the two men and the girl were obscured by the tagging so I didn’t feel that I was encroaching on their privacy. An old bloke dressed in a blazer, shabby trousers and trainers lumbered up to me, his nose hair webbing out of his nose much like my own.
“I could paint better than that!”
“Could you? How very nice for you!”
He repeated his first statement, waving his arm in dismissal at the train.
“It’s graffiti that is!”
“That’s right, though these days some would say that tagging, what you see there, is the new graffiti. Some graffiti though, can be considered art!”
He looked at me, and we both carried on up the stairs, continuing our debate.
“It’s a waste of money!”
“Yes, some of the spray paint you can buy is very expensive!”
“It’s vandalism. You can’t see out the windows with all that on it.”
“Yes but would you want to see the insides of a train? They’re very dirty.”
“It’s a waste of money!”
“That’s right, a lot of the spray paint might also get up the painters noses!”
The old man looked at me in puzzlement. I was going to nip into the Acorns Hospice to my left, so I bid him good-day in my usual over-polite manner. And as he shuffled off in the direction of the Arthur Robertson, the Wetherspoons next to the One Stop Shopping Centre, I was guessing he was thinking, “What a prat.” Still, you can’t please everybody all the time.