Head down.

Head down, plug in, keep walking. This area's not great.

Switch eyes down and volume up.

Keep distant.

Don't engage.

Might get lynched or robbed or raped.

Stabbed. They all have knives now. Says so on the news.

Swipe cards, press buttons. Wait. Always wait.

No eye contact – that's only aggressive, suggestive. Can't be anything but.

Only the crazy men smile, or the sexual predators, or the paedophiles, or the drugged-up, spaced out lunatics looking for a fight, or a light, or a finger-jabbing, shoulder hunching, spitting, streaming swell of threats or engine revs to make you skitter out of your skin and set them laughing.


Forgotten how to read a human as anything but threat. Fear's that kind of cycle. And everyone's misunderstood, or using it.

Education system's flawed but organic produce, pashminas and philanthropy will save the day.

They need to eat around a dinner table.

Or bloody bomb them all.

Healthy return to population cleansing to redress the balance, but maybe now they'd rather take the bankers out. They've made more dent in stocks and shares than petty laptop thieves.

Man needs to know. Man needs to know it weren't like that.

But who's listening?

Music chosen for escape. Plug in and listen – make your own world without


What would you do with that? Thoughts would tick and whirr and panic would set in.

A hundred people five millimetres away.

Hot, heavy, wheezing, smoke filled, sweat stained, fat-ankled and fed up.

Dull down need for personal space.

Ignore rising repulsion at a stranger's sweat soaking the wrong way through your shirt and that tang of bad breath, yaks piss aftershave, cider and hair gel.

Grit teeth, bear it.

Don't talk to strangers, even when that's everyone around.

They might make conversation. Hell of hells.

Chances are you wouldn't understand. There's a language gap.

Maybe more than that.