I pick up a young student who, in another time, would have been dismissively classified as a crusty. She is obviously enjoying her first time away from her folks and, as such, has dyed her hair a sort of rancid green, invested in some smudged henna tatts on her hands and is dressed in clobber she seems to have discovered in a hedge.

She has the pale, malnourished look of a first year student and, to cap it all, has a cold, so regales me with a chorus of marshy sniffs as she buys a ticket. She’s also sporting a somewhat fetching nostril candle.

She fishes a crumpled tenner out of a pocket within which also resides an accretion of tissues and, as she gets off at the station some time later, she stomps up to me, whereupon the following conversation ensues:

To whit:

Snotty Student: Oi, drive!
Me: Yerrsss?
SS: (Sniff) What was that you just did?
Me: What do you mean?
SS: What you just did? (cough) That stuff you put on your hands? What was it? (sniff)
Me: Oh, it’s liquid hand-sanitiser. I…
SS: (Interrupting) Are you saying I’m dirty? (huge sneeze into her hand)
Me: (Warily) Er, no, not as such. You do have a cold, though
SS: I don’t (sniff)
Me: Well…you do
SS: I… (pauses to wipe nose on sleeve, coughs) don’t…
Me: You do, though
SS: (Blearily) So?
Me: So I don’t really want to catch it from you and you pulled that money from your pocket that had some tissues in it. Hence the hand-sanitiser
SS: Oh… (slightly mollified) Where’s the nearest Boots?
Me: Just over the road. Get blackcurrent Lemsip. Ooh, and some Fisherman’s Friends!
SS: Thanks drive (Sniff…cough…sniff…wipes nose on sleeve again)