Tonight on the tube travelling home from a gig in Camden the woman opposite me tapped me on the leg, then just looked at me. "Yes?" I enquired.
She paused, then said she didn't want me taking photos of her. She could see my camera on the back of my phone and I was sat opposite her ... so obviously I was taking photos.
After a couple of seconds to digest this unexpected accusation I replied, "Oh no! I'm not taking photos! I'm playing a game ... look!"
I showed her my phone - no camera, just strange looking hexagons and some blue sea.
I didn't try to explain that I was too caught up playing Catan to even think about covert photography on the journey home - something told me she wouldn't be very interested. I'm good at sensing things like this sometimes.
[For the record, I genuinely was totally focussed on the game and no covert photography had taken place]
I sat back, went back to my game, tried to work out what the frak I was doing before I was interrupted, mentally reset myself and carried on playing Catan.
Less than five minutes later, the same person leant forwards with her iPhone, and without eye-contact-confirmation, or asking, took a photo of one of my boots. To be fair, my boots are awesome, and they should be revered as often as possible, but taking into consideration our previous exchange one might expect her to be more cautious about her choice of subject.
After her first shot, she checked her camera, seemed to like the result, then looked at me ...
"It's ok, I can photoshop it later," she said without batting an eyelid. I wasn't sure what she meant - and it wasn't until much later that I realised she'd taken a photo of the boot with the missing eye.
She then asked if she could take another photo ... it seemed petty to say no, so I nodded and moved my boots for a better shot. She then got slightly upset that my feet were in the wrong places, and directed me for the shot she wanted of my boots.
Once happy with the shot she asked me what I was studying.
"I'm not studying, I work."
"Yes, I'm older than I look," I offered - unless she'd pegged me as one of those perpetual student types.
"How old are you?"
"Don't lie! I'll punch you in the face."
I reassured her I wasn't lying and that there was no need for my face to meet her fist.
Once satisfied that I wasn't lying, we kept up the conversation. I say conversation, she did lots of asking, and I did lots of answering.
"I know," was my immediate response. I don't look normal, I don't act normal, and ... well I won't scare you with what goes on in the safety of my own thoughts; you're not ready for that yet.
"Are you English Crazy, or French Crazy?"
I guessed her accent, obviously "not English" may have been French, and influenced her decision to limit where I was born to "where she was born" and "our current country".
*mumbles a little* *may have said 'Acton?*
"I live in Acton. I was born near Shepherds Bush." Acton is large enough that I'm comfortable letting people know I live there.
There was some conversation about designing websites, and doing some SEO. I explained I didn't do that sort of thing myself, but maybe I knew people who did - although they'd probably be sick of that kind of thing after leaving work having done a day of it already.
Some checks to see if I was single, taken, married. Mentioned she was on her way home from a blind date, which is why she wasn't wearing glasses - I genuinely hadn't noticed, having never seen her before ;-)
She promised that she could see me, even though she wasn't wearing them.
Some repeat checks for things I'd already told her, to make sure my story didn't change.
More talk about websites and SEO.
Then asking what my wife did. "Girlfriend," I corrected.
Now she wants my to find people to design websites and do some SEO and to ask my gf if she does alterations to wedding dresses.
In the background, more and more people in the carriage are being very British and pretending really hard that they aren't listening to the crazy strangers talking on the train.
They struggle when we meander into the inevitable conversation about my name.
"Your parents called you Chisel?" Damn, she was quick getting there!
"So what's your real name?"
"Chisel." I know, I'm an arse about the distinction between "real name", "legal name" and "birth name".
"What did your parents call you?"
"I don't tell anyone that."
"You can tell me - you'll never see me again. I won't tell anyone."
"Yeah, but there's a whole carriage of people pretending not to listen to us talking. I can't say."
No-one flinched. Everyone was superbly British about the whole thing.
She leant forward, hoping I'd tell her. I said quietly into her ear, "I'm still not telling you."
"I'm annoying, sorry".
We continued talking a bit more, discovering that we both got of at Acton Town, but went in separate directions - which saved me from looking like a scary, covert photographer, tube commuting stalker when we both got off at the same place.
I didn't get to play much of my game on the way home, but I was suitably entertained by Deborah thanks to my non-photography and some rather catching New Rock Reactor boots.To think, people wonder why I enjoy public transport so much.