35. 8am. Bottom deck, back row.

I was sitting near a group of tweens on their way to school. There were two boys (one small and loud, one larger and very smiley) and one girl, much more physically developed, who spoke in a low, husky voice. The boys were quizzing the girl on her interactions with (whisper it) men. They seemed utterly scandalised by everything she was telling them, which more or less amounted to ‘I hang out with boys sometimes but I haven’t slept with them’ and ‘I smoked a shisha pipe once when I was eleven. So?’ Here are some of the boys’ best phrases, in case you ever find yourself among straight-laced twelve-year-old boys from south London and need to blend in:

‘Swear down, your mouth is TOO BIG! What’s the matter with you?’

‘You said that OUT LOUD!!’

‘You meet booooys.’ [NB must narrow eyes accusingly on ‘booooys’.]

‘Mrs T said that one hour’s shisha is the equivalent of one HUNDRED cigarettes. You know the people who smoke shisha, they die early and their teeth turn black.’

‘You’re a snake.’ [NB must be accompanied by theatrically sharp intake of breath.]

And my favourite – surely we all need to add this to our daily vocabulary:

‘Where was it? Clapham? Peckham? HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO PECKHAM?!?!’


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