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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The umpteeenth Crusade is enacted on the Victoria Line

I've always believed that the most dangerous time to be on the London Underground is between two and three in the afternoon. If you're going to encounter loons, this is the time of day. First thing in the morning the loons are prettily aslumber. By going home time they have gone home. But between two and three they are inevitably abroad and the absence of crowds affords them the elbow room in which to operate.

Yesterday afternoon at this hour I noticed an older chap making his way down the carriage. He was pausing at each passenger and making the sign of the cross over their head. The smile on his face made it impossible to work out whether he was a drunk, a nutcase or an over-zealous priest putting his commuting time to productive use. As he reached the middle of the carriage a passenger, who may have been a Muslim, waved him away in an agitated manner and then, when he persisted, moved right down the carriage as if he had been bothered by a swarm of bees.

For a few seconds I wondered whether there might be An Incident, the kind of thing that might have culminated in a discussion on Newsnight with the Archbishop of Canterbury on one hand and Iqbal Sacranie on the other and eventually lead to the introduction of a law forbidding any shows of religious faith on public transport.

But then we arrived at Warren Street and I got off.