"Jubilee" on the Evening Standard

Happy news! My short story "Jubilee" is live now on the Evening Standard website. You can read an excerpt here as well as hear the full story on the accompanying podcast.

"Jubilee" is part of a short story collection called Tales for London by my fantastic publisher, Borough Press. The collection comprises eleven short stories inspired by the Tube, which distill the sweat and tears of the daily commute, along with the occasional magic of a Tube journey. The collection features stories by Lionel Shriver, Joanna Cannon, Katy Mahood, and many others. 

The collection will be available later in the year. 

June 2007

We never ride the train. Um Nadia says it’s because it makes her sick, but she’s lying when she says this. It’s the crowds she can’t deal with. The intimacy of strangers, of bodies pressing up against her or brushing past on their way to the exit or an empty seat. She doesn’t like to be touched. Whenever we’re in this city, with its lights and beings and things, she calls taxis to shuttle her from one place to another, even if they take longer or stink of fried food or charge an obscene amount for so short a journey.

I don’t mind the crowds. I like the underground. It’s an image of the world above, a microcosm that mimics what happens up there on those dense, pushy streets. The posh couple boarding at Notting Hill, with their jewels and brands and expensive smiles, making their way east or south. The men in suits with their important leather bags disembarking at Westminster. The boys who look like girls and girls who look like boys deboarding at Bethnal Green or Camden. The Bengalis heading east or the Africans crossing the river. The rich Arab tourists playing locals, as Dahlia and Nadia used to do, going from one shopping stop to another, leaving their mothers and aunties to taxi back and forth above them. It’s all here, encapsulated in these metal tubes hurtling through space and time, day in and day out, forever.