Followers of the rule that black ankle socks should not be worn with shorts – such people undoubtedly exist – would have been appalled. The two men sat, bold as brass, on the London Overground openly in breach of hosiery convention, flaunting their hairy white legs and all. They had a Dachshund too.
It was a brown Dachshund with a rough little coat, perched perkily on one of its owner’s knees. The men, one wearing glasses, the other a baseball cap, were enjoying some sotto voce running joke, grinning and consulting their phones. The dog seemed somehow in on the act, its canine air of expectation adding to a bubble vibe of levity and conspiracy.
There weren’t many on the train. One seat separated the two men from a woman in a floral skirt tapping at her laptop. A few seats further down another woman, also on her own, wore a black face mask, a reminder of a recent time that can also seem quite far away.
As we neared Liverpool Street, the Dachshund descended to the carriage floor, though attached to the man with a cap by a rope lead. It shook itself, making its collar tag rattle, and sniffed the ankle of the woman with the laptop. She didn’t notice, or notice me noticing. The Dachshund looked at me, then looked away. Apparently, I wasn’t worth sniffing.
The train came to a halt and I resolved to be the last to disembark. One man and his dog stepped out on to the platform. His companion stayed put for a bit. I don’t know know why. Then he left and I left too. Soon, they were two men and a dog again, moving more slowly towards the barriers than everybody else, conferring and smilingly agreeing about whatever it was in their matching dark baggy shorts and matching black ankle socks and almost matching dark-coloured trainers.
The one wearing a cap briefly linked an arm through the arm of the one wearing glasses. The Dachshund led them on, and soon all three were swallowing by the London crowd and gone.