I rarely take Newcastle's inner-city public transport train system, a.k.a., The Metro, wunder-invention of the eighties; so when I do, I invariably witness pretty special things.
Whether it's 15 year-old Geordies oranged-up to the bleached hairline on a Friday night or old women eating Greggs out the bag, surrounded by Fenwick shoppers or commenting on my shoes, it's a pretty good opportunity to people watch.
Today I saw possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen on those funny little trains. The focus of attention was a small happy baby, and the two competing forces for it's laughter were old men. Neither of these varieties are in any way rare on the metro, but the combo today was incredible.
I was stood opposite the first old man who was taking pleasure in entertaining the baby. Whilst casually trying to hide the typically obscene American Apparel advert on the back of my Vice magazine, it appeared that he wasn't remotely interested with the latex-covered crotch of the model but with bending his forefinger at the baby.
He also happened to be wearing a bobble hathat with ears which were tied under his chin, a suit, shirt and tie and some quite incredible loafers. I probably could have flipped to the fashion shoot of the magazine to show him just how cool he was. Anyway, the baby and the man were in this beautifully symbiotic relationship of joy, when old man number two comes on the scene.
I didn't get quite such a good look at this chap, he was about four metres away from me and his elderly rival, and two from the baby. His act was not finger waggling but a series of whimsical rhetorical questions, like "ooh, what was that?" when my phone bleeped. A weaker technique, I think you'll agree. Old man number one OWNED that baby's love.
Unfortunately, I had to get off just as this was getting interesting, and as old man number two was getting into his stride. By God, imagine what might've happened by the time the train had reached Monkseaton, eh?