A businessman escaped anything up to ten minutes of awkward chat this morning after a well placed Daily Telegraph caught his eye while he was having his shoes buffed at Victoria station. Mr Peter Brunswick, who is a company director, says he embarked on the procedure unaware that it would almost certainly involve small-talk with the working class man cleaning his shoes. ‘It came as a complete shock when he started talking to me about the weather, and whether I had a busy day ahead. If someone hadn’t left that Telegraph there I don’t know what I’d have done’ said the former Conservative Councillor from Surrey. ‘Luckily, being a broadsheet, the Telegraph not only avoided the need for conversation, but also blocked out entirely the sight of the man buffing my shoes’.
Mr Brunswick then enjoyed the remainder of his shoe-buffing free from any possibility of uneasy conversation, which would almost inevitably have revealed the stark socio-economic contrast between the businessman and the proprietor of ‘Sure Shine Shoes’. He then replaced the Telegraph on the seat next to him, in the hope that it might serve his fellow man as it had served him.
Broadsheet newspapers used to enjoy a monopoly on the avoidance of social awkwardness, but have in recent years been superseded by the mobile phone and latterly, the Blackberry. Many people still carry a paper as a back up, however, and these are now handed out freely all over the London transport infrastructure for just this purpose. ‘In the old days you could also hit them with the rolled–up paper if they’d missed a bit, but apparently that’s not ‘politically correct’ anymore.’