BY Michael Fleming

DATE: 04 MAY 2011


“The weirder you're going to behave, the more normal you should look.  It works in reverse, too.  When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person”  P.J. O'Rourke

The middle-aged ordinary gentleman on the little shuttle train link between terminals at Gatwick certainly looked normal. There were no obvious signs of piercings. Perhaps if I’d taken heed of PJ O’Rourke’s words of wisdom I’d have been less surprised by what happened next.

So there we all are, shuttling along together in the little carriage; a dozen or so fellow travellers heading in the same direction for a few hundred yards before spreading out for the four corners of the globe, never to meet again. Of course we’re all conforming to the rules of engagement for train journeys, even short ones in the Gatwick monorail thingie, and studiously endeavoring not to make eye contact with one another. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot Ordinary Man rummaging in his suitcase. Nothing unusual in that. Then I spot him pulling out a pair of trousers. Ok, perhaps he’s just pulling those out to make space for a more productive rummage – so he can find whatever vital piece of travel documentation it is that he’s really looking for. We’ve all done that.  But no…..

He zips up his suitcase, stands up, unzips his trousers and whips them off so that he’s now displaying his white Marks & Spencer’s finest along with his equally white, hairy legs. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to see Ordinary Man’s Y-fronts on that short shuttle journey. In fact I wasn’t expecting to see anyone’s Y-fronts. A wonderful scene ensued as he realized our short journey was coming to an end and that he probably ought to get his replacement trousers on before the doors opened and his audience could potentially expand quite rapidly from the dozen current, slightly bemused occupants of the carriage. Have you ever tried to get your legs into a pair of trousers while rattling along in a shoogily train carriage? Hmm, possibly not. Anyway, it appears that this is not as easy a task as it is in the stable, unshoogling privacy of your own home. Much tugging, dancing around on one foot, grabbing on to anything in reach and attached to the carriage for support ensued. Live entertainment. If this scene had been taking place in Edinburgh during August I’d have assumed this was a publicity stunt for some bizarre play.

Eventually, just as the train came to a stop and the door opened, Ordinary Man gave one final mighty tug, one swift (in my view dangerously swift and without the requisite appropriate tucking in checks) pull up of his zip and hey presto as if by magic Ordinary Man had arrived at the north terminal sporting a different pair of trousers.

What I loved was that no-one else in the carriage seemed to find this behaviour bizarre. At least if they did, they managed not to show it on their faces. Perhaps I’d stumbled on a travelling posse of poker players on their way to some convention? Or perhaps it’s just a symptom of too much time commuting  in and around London. It’s numbed their senses. Being from Glasgow I reckon my facial expression almost certainly displayed my mix of bemusement and amusement.

One thing’s for sure – the life of a traveling trainer is never ordinary, and little moments like this help to keep a smile on my face.


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about the author

Michael Fleming is our Head of KWC Legal. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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