A time traveller in the rush hour

Questions I’d like to ask strangers on public transport (Part 2)

Sensible coats for sensible women (1953)

It was the sixth, or perhaps the seventh time I saw her. I was hurrying to work (slightly late as usual) when I saw her again. You couldn’t really miss her.

A woman in her mid-forties, with a prominent nose, bright red lipstick and a heavily powdered face. Perhaps a little chubby, in an unremarkable sort of way. Heading off to work like anyone else on their morning commute.

But that was where the ordinariness stopped.

She was dressed like a dowager aunt from the 1950s.

She wore a red knee-length woollen coat with a brooch, the sort of coat the Queen often wears. She carried a Margaret Thatcher handbag and wore a cheerful sky-blue beret. I imagined her frequenting once-genteel hotels where they still insist on providing the proper level of service, touring the country in a sensible fifties car with her beloved Yorkshire terrier (let’s call him Bertie) sitting on the passenger seat.

A gentle, unhurried fantasy of mid-century existence. Though of course I could throw in an Agatha Christie-style murder to liven things up a bit.

A time traveller in the rush hour.

I wondered why people do this, dedicate themselves to the style of another era. I admire their dedication, their commitment to their decade of choice. I want to know why they do it. There’s something oddly charming about these people, the way they snap you out of your preconceived assumptions, even when you think of the practical difficulties involved.

After all, do you find a partner who is passionate about 1953?

The Storyteller on the District Line — №40

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