One evening several commuters shuffle into one of the pokey lifts in Hampstead tube station. In the middle of the lift a young woman, sprite, nubile, with big hair is talking loudly to her male friend, a Black guy, of around the same height, big, compact, well kept, modest, but manly. Everyone else in the lift is staring softly into the space above peoples’ heads and half-listening to the conversation between the girl and boy. As the lift starts to descend the girl explains how a friend had fallen out with her, but had the next day rung her up to say she was sorry. As she talks the boy focuses his eyes on the darkened walls of the lift shaft, seen whizzing past through the lift doors. A small woman, facing the right hand corner at the back of the lift, holds out a newspaper with both arms. She turns the page revealing a black and white portrait of David Beckham, oiled and tanned. David is wearing nothing but white underpants, the tightness of which bears testimony to his manhood. David Beckham had just retired from professional football and the headline in the paper reads, ‘Can someone find something for David Beckham to do before he becomes a knight?’ As I peered at David’s perfect musculature, the elegance of his weight and tone, I could feel the first stirrings of a trance. Archangels began to sing; my mind started to drift through Florence and appeared visions of Michelangelo’s sculpture of the man by the same name. My gaze began to soften once again, but this time the pronounced sinews of David’s body and the handsomeness of his face were the object of my musing. My trance was broken only when I noticed that an Indian guy, stood next to me, was also pouring over David. The woman who held the newspaper was also mesmerized and had become statuesque. The contagion spread, the vociferous girl, who was still speaking to her friend, seeing the three of us mesmerized, glanced over to the object of our attentions, and also fell silent. Her male friend followed suit. The lift fell saintly silent, its inhabitants enraptured for two, three, maybe four seconds. The reverie came to an end when the woman holding the paper, sensing the lift approaching the bottom of the shaft, woke up from her spell and closed the paper. As she did she sighed and shook, as if snapping out of the trance required some superhuman effort. The closure of the paper had a ripple effect, causing onlookers to also wake up. Looking dazed, as the euphoria induced by contemplating David competed with the quotidian demands of underground travel, the onlookers blinked their eyes, their vacant expressions indicating energies were being put into making sense of what had just happened. Having let their guard down, and as is often the case with the morning after the night before, the onlookers quickly affected nonchalance, stoicism, denial, readjusted their gazes to above the heads of the congregated masses, and as the lift doors opened, exaggerated shuffles of their bags and clothes, ready to make their way.
I am so amused that I laugh out loud.