London Sketch 4
He can feel his words slurring as he bawls at his slightly drunk mate standing next to him. The swaying of the carriage throws them together and they joke about the poor performance of the England team, tempered only slightly by the even worse play of their Eastern European opponents.
He catches sight of himself in the window and realises he is the only one on the way back from Wembley not wearing some item of England kit. Instead he wears the uniform of the East End hipster — low slung jeans, bushy beard, plastic specs, and extensive, expensive tattoos. He looks like a stereotypical fish-out-of-water fall guy for a joke.
But then he is the only one here straddling two worlds. Monday to Friday he plays the role of the digital guru for a small, aggressively hip startup on Silicon Roundabout. He likes the daily grind, even tolerating the constant one-upmanship and false humility of a team jockeying for position, ready for the inevitable IPO when it comes. But that’s just a game, an enjoyable way to pass the time and pay the bills.
Weekends though are a different story. He returns to his roots, to a brotherhood forged in shady pubs and draughty terraces tracking his team across the country. They drink, they chant and on occasion they fight in back streets and at train stations. But with them he belongs, no matter what his hipster style suggests. The crew are a genuine collective while work is a “team” in name alone. This is where he really fits in, where he belongs.
He notices the bulge around his waist and wonders if his colleagues at work have seen it. The beginnings of a belly founded on cheap, super strength lager could give the game away, allowing his coworkers a glimpse of the weekend secret that he has tried so hard to hide. He makes a mental note to read up on the latest craft beers on the Hoxton scene to build a backstory if anyone asks about his weekend.
But tonight he’s with his family, celebrating a win. And he’s bound to drink another few gallons of cut-price Stella before the night is over.