Riding the 6.45pm First Great Western fast commuter train, peak time, from London Paddington to some exotic location in the west. Standing room only, though some people are sat on the floor in the isles. I choose a place where fresh air can shift the almost rank stench of warm and stale sweat.
I lean against the toilet door.
Surrounded by besuited men with unimaginative ties and gently bulging stomachs. They all wear identically styled black leather shoes that are only differentiated by the size and degree of wear. I run my gaze up their bodies, risking eye-contact. No, not risking eye-contact because they are all immersed in their phones, silently thumbing their importance to others.
No fear of eye-contact, even though I’m the only woman present and dressed in bright-blue with flat shoes conforming to neither girliness, motherliness, nor business attire. I am invisible.
The new factory workers are crammed onto this train like chickens in a battery coup. I thank an undefined diety or two that I am not, and may never be, a conformist – no matter how painful noncomformity can be.