Poppy appeal (Holland Park)

Great. I'm back! I got a little caught up gossiping with central line commuting folk, but now I am in a pub in Holland Park, ready to write again. Last hour! Throw all your requests and ideas this way!

They've turned the lights right down in here. I look ghostly.


Let's get back to our heroine. Harriet moved on from Paperchase, swiftly, like a cheetah she was. She took a tube journey as far west as she could manage without spotting a happy commuter. Someone smiled in her direction at Holland Park, so off she stepped at that station.

On the platform were the darn British Legion, thrusting poppies in her face. "Pound for a poppy", a cheery woman called. No way, thought Harriet barging her out of the way. Not because she had particularly strong opinions on war, or the colour red, but because the uniformed sellers seemed to represent the way her day had gone from bad to worse. 

First, at Shoreditch High Street, they were outside the station, offering their stacks of flowers. 

At Euston, they were by the ticket machines, suggesting she buy.

In Tottenham Court Road, they were at the top of the escalator encouraging her to part with a few coins.

But here, at Holland Park, they were ON THE PLATFORM! The platform! She couldn't avoid them. Like hounds, closing in on her. What if she didn't want a poppy? She didn't want a poppy. They were cheap-looking, they were battlefield-sad. 

Harriet seethed. But then a wee voice in her head reminded her that she too could be humble. She accepted gracefully, once, a birthday present that came in the shape of a bottle of bioactive loo cleaner. "It eats poo and farts fresh air," said her friend. Our Hazza understood that everyone was different. 

"I apologise for my barge," said Harriet to the woman in blue, her cap angled, her lipstick pink. 

"You must have your reasons," said lipstick, pushing her box of poppies forward slightly. 

"I do," said Harriet, as though she had imparted  a great secret. "Oh, I do." Harriet Bardot, like everyone else in the whole world, enjoyed indulging in a little self-made drama.

"Take a poppy," said the woman.

"No," said Harriet.

"Go on."

"I'll buy the whole box for fifty quid, if you promise to have cleared this station of poppy sellers by the time I return."

"Look," said the other woman, shrugging - but carefully, as she didn't want to drop the box - "Like many others who have lived long in a great capital, you have strong feelings about the various railway termini. They are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return."

"So, does that mean you'll take my money?" asked Harriet.