On a train. A slow train. A really slow train. Stick with it, it gets better. Very crowded. En route to a training day. Don't ask. Half asleep. Itchy nose. Arms trapped. Muggy. Can barely move. At one stop the doors open. Big-bellied man standing on the platform. Big belly. Thinks about trying to squeeze on, motions forward, tempted. Thinks again, moves down the platform to the next door. I catch a couple of people near me sigh with relief. Train moves on. Woman next to me is texting. I sneak a peak at what she's writing: "Guy next to me has worst beard ever". Eh? I always thought my beard was competitive. Ok, well, not if compared to Rich - (I wonder if you decided to click on the link or just carried on reading?) Anyway...If you did click on the link, welcome back, if you didn't, well, then I admire your dedication to the cause. To clarify, my beard has been scrutinised up close by a mystery woman who feels the need to text someone about it because it's so bad. My eyes sigh with hurt. Big (internal) huff. Very disappointed. You can question my integrity, but please don't question my beard. Wait a minute. Hold on there partner. Looking up, I realise there is another guy, next to her on the other side, with a beard. Was she referring to him? Was she questioning the validity of his beard? Is my beard in the clear? Whoah! What's more, it appears he has also read the text. He looks disappointed too. I feel his pain. But then he looks up at me. He looks at my beard. I look at his beard. He's still looking at my beard. Stop looking at my beard. I look at his beard. We both judge each others' beards. Who's beard is she talking about? I think his beard is quite good, which temporarily annoys me. He doesn't seem that pleased with me either. I take this as a good thing if it's because he likes my beard. Not a good thing if un-beard related. Awkward stand off. He looks out the window. She then looks at me. She caught me reading her text. She widens her eyes. She motions gently, glancing at the other guy, indicating that she's texting about him. If I could move my arm properly, I'd punch the air with glee. Instead I nudge a guy next to me (accidentally) in the balls with the restricted flinch of my clenched fist. He (nudged-in-balls-man) doesn't react. Arrggh no, it's a woman. Even worse. Anyway, she (texting lady) was referring to the other chap. And his beard. She has made it clear that I don't have the worst beard ever. Justice, though harsh on good-beard-man, has been served. My beard has been exonerated. Lots of people squished in the carriage. I look out the window. I then catch the texting-fiend-lady motioning with her widened eyes from the other guy's direction towards me, just like she did to me at him. She's now indicating to him that I'm worst-beard-ever-man. Unbelievable. What's she playing at? A swift, clinical switch of allegiance. He seems pleased. His beard has (many would feel correctly) been exonerated, but I'm not pleased. She is clearly playing each of us off against each other to escape her awkwardness at having been caught over the beard slur. A classic double bluff to get us both on side. Sneaky. Very sneaky. Never text about someone standing right next to you. Bad move. Really bad move. But wait, beard solidarity seems to have taken over. He feels my displeasure, and now also looks displeased. Maybe he really does like my beard too. She becomes the object of both our annoyance. We both look at her. She looks at the two of us. We look out the window at a passing allotment, with theatrical timing, a display of disenchantment at her ill-judged volley of beard abuse. Both miffed. Feeling each other's resentment. He looks emotional, as if this isn't the first time his beard has been questioned. This makes me start to question his beard once more. Then I start thinking about what I'm going to cook tonight. Mmmm...kievs. No! *Invisibly slaps own face*. C'mon, concentrate, beard reputation is on the line. Focus. Be alert. Wait. Hold on. She's texting. What's that? I can't quite make it out. Oh my. Whoah. Breaking news. I can now read the information she's been typing: "No! I wasn't texting about you guys, look over there!" Wowsers. We both look up and see a man with the worst beard I assume any of us had ever seen. He has been the elephant in the room. An invisible elephant with skills of a ninja. Un-detected, unseen. Bad beard, though. Very poor. Can't defend him. No beard solidarity when you look as stupid as that. And how much time had it taken to sculpt? Shocking.
YOUR HEAD VOICE JUST GOT LOUDER.
Your. Head. Voice. Just. Got. Slower.
Your head voice is back to normal.