In this new back of the book segment "Talk Talk", gossip rag shares conversations overheard in and around the London underground in an attempt to reproduce the polyphony of voices that make up London's melting pot. Art by the wonderful and talented Belle Eyres (@belleyres_ on IG).
Location: Piccadilly line, Manor House
Two grown sons (Tyler and Luke) and their mum and dad.
Tyler: You need to stop making us lie for you.
Dad: You're putting us in a shit situation.
Luke: It’s not about you lying for me, it’s about Tyler bringing up shit that doesn’t need to be brought up. He knows that Lizzy is jealous so why is he bringing it up? And he keeps making straw men to deflect from that.
Mum: What’s straw men?
Location: London Fields
Pink (25, girl with pink hair), Polkadots (25, curly hair polka dot jumper).
Pink: It’s in east.
Polka dots: and it’s a warehouse?
Pink: yeah Pete used to live there too. It’s definitely an interesting experience, there’s often events and stuff on the weekend or just on a regular day.
Polkadots: I think I’d go crazy living there.
Location: Finsbury Park
Middle aged woman in a black leather jacket and long black polka dot dress (40), slightly older man, not bearded, wearing a flat cap and warm clothes.
Jane (frustrated): Right just tell us where we need to go.
Jane: You said Covent.
Brian (frustrated): I know and then I corrected it!
Location: Piccadilly line, Kings Cross
Girl in stripey jumper with acne (27) and boy with big arms and tattoos (27)
Grace: Take a bag of records out with you and the rest you can get when you're out there. I am conscious that it’s not easy to leave.
George: I’ll sort it, I’ll figure it out.
Grace: you’re spending 6 months out there?
Grace: Don’t feel like a failure if you come back sooner. Don’t feel that pressure of you told everyone you’re going out for two years and then you only stay for however long.
Location: Piccadilly line, Kings Cross
Two London rude girls, around 17, bubble coats, y2k style.
Paige: My problem is not with the call, it’s the number situation, the lying, the covering up.
Clarisse: How do you know it was her number? Cus she said stop calling me?
Paige: Mum’s life.
Clarisse: She didn’t let him speak enit?
Paige: If he’d picked up that first FaceTime call then, I’d probably get annoyed but never to the point where […] clearly . This is the […] I dunno man, like I’m getting annoyed again.
Clarisse: If you would have first picked up you would have seen everything.
Paige: Yeah if he was to look like he was by himself and she spoke like how she usually speaks.
Clarisse: Are you still speaking to him?
Paige: Yesterday I said to him *looks through phone* these are from before […] so I was like: are the people around you […] the people in ur story […] you probably said the same shit to her too, the way ur treating her right now is how u treat me. I’m not the best but […] then he said he’d change over time and that he thinks about me. With this Melissa girl [...] it was [...] ok here ha! *Finds the text* I said what u trying to do […] I said if one person isn’t enough don’t drag me behind your bullshit […] I always […] he just mentions to me […] he said 'I didn’t want to pick up because it […] and I said ‘if you picked up I wouldn’t have been as mad. If she was only going to ask you something it wouldn’t be bad, I was looking at you saying pick up’.
Location: Victoria line, Oxford Circus
Football lads (27 to 35), heavy set men, smell a bit sweaty, seem like nice boys. One is bearded with belly, one has no beard and three quarter lengths.
Lad 1: Course I’d rather win
Lad 2: All it is, no one shows the ball […] if people were composed it would be better.
Lad 1: But if you have five or six on the team who are shit on the ball makes no difference. You’re only as good as your players.
Lad 2: Alison is really good at knowing his limitations.
Lad 1: He is good tbf.
Lad 3: Good player.
Location: Hammersmith and City line, Paddington.
Cute black guy a lil road, wearing black tracksuit, has heated conversation on the phone.
Tracksuit hottie: I keep it 100, then it’s a different situation. And I see them talking it’s like bruv u lot are talking crazy. It’s like I ain’t […] yeah it’s [...] That’s why [...] the things you talking about there are niggas that are realer. I don’t have fake friendships. That’s why Richard don’t rock with them, Richard and thingy went to live in the yard together. Oh he told you enit. If someone told you to move [...] because at the end of the day […] Bro listen think about it […] I’m not gonna say sometimes there aren’t […] I’ve said that when I see him I stay […] but after when I speak to [...] it’s like am I really going to […] it is what it is […] listen im going underground the minute I come out I’ll call you.
Location: Piccadilly line, Finsbury Park
Jamaican man in blue Mac and Adidas SnapBack conversates with himself very loudly.
Kooky Uncle Yard: All your jewellery come from Africa and India ya fockin teef! History was made yesterday. First non white prime minister. Yes look pon me I’m talking. Black people don’t care, nobody like us anyway. This country was made on robbery! The queen is dead. Let me off the fockin train. New beginning! Anybody touch me dead!
Location: Brockwell lido
35 year old Yoga woman and friend
Miss Yoga: There was some sort of thing and I was feeling tense about it and when we got to India , the whole vibe was I felt like she was constantly saying I want to do this and that and being a bit controlling and I won’t do this and I will do that and I felt on edge.
Yoga friend: Yeah?
Miss Yoga: And we did have a nice time in lots of ways but I felt like she considered me an annoying little sister.
Yoga friend: It’s horrible to feel like an inconvenience.
Miss Yoga: Yeah it made me feel like a stupid little girl.
Yoga friend: Why was she being like that? Were you maybe imagining it in your head …
Miss Yoga: The yoga that we did, I think I did something. And I was emotionally tense. And then dad was weird with me cus he was mad and grumpy about me leaving him behind so I felt tense and stressed. Then last few days I was at the beach and I ended up crying. You wanna do walkies around ...? I love the top by the way.
Yoga friend: This is new got it yesterday from Monki.
Location: Piccadilly line, Turnpike Lane
Hot young interracial couple on Halloween night, girl holding bottle of bubbly. Maybe 25.
Dude: Went back to Oxford Circus cus I fell asleep. Then he called my phone. Bus driver answered saying you vomited on my bus I’ve got your phone and taken it to the bus stop. And he'd taken it past Croydon so I had to find my way there with no phone and I kept falling asleep.
Location: King’s Cross St Pancreas Station
Wild looking uncle with stomach bulge shouts at people walking past him in the station.
Oracle: You’re no different than a dog or a snake, all of you.
Location: Finchley & Frognal station
Two men in 50s, one white with crutch, one brown with red jacket.
Crutches: It’s called the dragon but it’s all taped up so it’s not sharp.
Red jacket: You’ve had it for years haven’t you. What about Steve? Ponytail Steve? Little Steve? Where is he?
Crutches: You know, he might be …
Red jacket: Dead you mean? No, I saw Kat at the weekend. Kat said she’s seen him.
Crutches: I didn’t know she was in hospital. She looks alright for her age.
Red jacket: Her son Charlie died.
Crutches: Yeah someone told me, didn’t know that.
Red jacket: I didn’t know him, did you know him?
Red jacket: Yeah I was in prison with him.
Crutches: What was he like? Was he alright?
Red jacket: Yeah, he wasn’t a fighter. You know what I mean?
Crutches: It happened on the estate didn’t it?
Red jacket: She told me, she said that something happened. They said they all […] he had an ear infection and that’s how he died. Something to do with his ears.
Crutches: I think it’s the drugs.
Red jacket: Careful she usually knocks people out.
Crutches: I believe that! Tasty character!
Red jacket: She was beautiful, most beautiful girl.
Crutches: Still now! Still has a beautiful face, nice arse on her. Doesn’t she?
Location: Highbury & Islington
Overwhelmed white mum with two kids around 6 years old and a baby on her chest.
Kid 1: *Swinging around underground pole* Mummy how do you do pole dancing?
Kid 1: how do you do pole dancing?
Mum: ….. no please sit down.
Kid 2: I just burped.
Kid 1: I’m hungry.