Thursday, 13 May 2010

It's a funny thing, applying makeup on the train. The first few times, you are focussed on the motion, the gentle sway interrupted by arrhythmical lurches. You have to learn to balance your arm as if on a gimble, so that the lurches don't result in interesting streaks of mascara down your cheek, or a quick stab of eyeliner. That takes a couple or three repetitions.

Once that's mastered though, there's really nothing to it. But it's an odd sensation, and you sit quietly at the back of the carriage, in an airline style seat which you've carefully picked out because its twin is unoccupied and there's nobody across the aisle, either.

Five weeks in, and I am sitting this morning in a face to face cluster of 6 seats. The airline style seats  over the aisle are all full, and facing me, but there's nobody else in my pod. I settle, tucking my briefcase behind my legs and my handbag on my lap, and rummage in the side pocket for my glorious  makeup bag. It balances neatly on the opening of my bag, and I unzip it and begin the familiar routine: lid off the eyelid foundation, finger in, a quick slick across each lid and blend into the brows.   Somebody over the aisle rustles, loudly. I am not distracted. Lid on one pot and off another. Dip in the  brush, and spread the powder that's supposed to neutralise the shadows under my eyes. And then spread a bit more, because it has an increasingly uphill task, these days. Brush back, lid on, reach for  the crayon pouch. As I slide the first crayon from its holster, my eyes rise and flick round the carriage. I am gathering an audience. Over the aisle, one glance retreats hastily back to its laptop, one book is briskly raised, and the chap looking slightly over his shoulder is too late to disguise his gaze, and shifts slightly in his seat. I twist the pearly crayon out of its case, and, resisting the temptation to run my tongue over my lips, rub it over each eyelid. It's quite difficult to spot against the shadow neutraliser.   Next is the black crayon. I steal a glance across the aisle, and wonder whether they'd be less shocked if I went for the full Marilyn Manson rings.  I do my usual smudgy corners.  Mascara next.  The tension  mounts, but I manage not to smear it everywhere and, with a flick of the blusher brush and some judicious blending, job's a good'un.

I can't decide if my audience is thrilling to the delicious risk of a poke in the eye, or whether they're just surprised to see a woman so publicly at her toilette. So I look again. The book is being read, and the laptop judiciously tapped. But Mr Over The Shoulder has an expression of incredulous disapproval. I might as well have been hooking up my bra.

I mentally shrug, and settle down to read the paper over my new neighbour's shoulder. Why is it that, even in tight spaces, men must sit with their legs splayed?

And the man over the aisle has an iPad.

Sent from my iPhone

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