It’s Just Beer, Ffs

Your average rush hour morning in the city.

Martina D.
3 min readSep 24, 2022


So good indeed. /Photo: Volkan Olmez

It’s only 8:37 am and I’m already checking my underarms to see if they need another spray.

The sun is too strong for this hour, even when blurred by clouds of fine dust coming from the nearby building site. The grainy soot cloggs my lungs and scratches my eyes. I forgot my sunglasses. My oversized linen shirt and satin shorts float about as I sprint towards the Elephant & Castle underground. How can anyone wear jeans and not die?

I’m late, naturally.

The tube station radiates even more heat out into the open. It’s mobbed. I knock over a puzzled tourist. I feel for her as I say my sorries. She says, “city-break my ass next time”.

A South London geezer in ragged double denim enters the station lift. He reeks as if he slept on the floor of a pub cellar soaked in beer. The rest of the lift people all take a step back in unison. They create a gaping bubble of space around him, while stepping on each other’s toes and breathing down each other’s necks that little bit more. It’s so obvious his face flushes pink. I stand next to him. It’s just beer ffs. Frankly, I could do with a cool pint myself right about now. Stop being so bloody theatrical.

I wonder if that’s why he’s a drinker in the first place. People’s rejection. Judgement. Division.

Down we go.

As I follow the tunnel towards my platform turning sharp right, a blast of pizza-oven air hits my sweltering body and stops me in my tracks. With it, a sharp, angry sting pierces through my wrist. I yell and involuntarily fling the bright yellow dot further down, causing the couple behind me to start a frantic wasp dance, too.

“A hornet! A hornet!”

I want to say it wasn’t, but the tube is here. I hop on and collapse into a dirty seat, which was only free because it was dirty. But my shorts are black so it’s fine. I examine my burning arm, a purple speck with a circle of rash-like red growing around it at speed. I take off my silver bracelet and my bionic band, tucking them safely in the small side pocket in my bag.

As I emerge back up into the blinding sun currently melting down the roofs and pavements and luggage-dragging crowds of King’s Cross, I’m running even later.

I tap a quick Whatsapp and hit send. All I wanna do is join the ducks at Regent’s Canal and dive in to cool down. Instead, I stick to the plan and try to breathe as I walk to my meeting. My hair looks like straw from the dust and the boiling breeze. My arm is now twice the size.

I freaking love this city.

Story 4 of 45

My 45-Day Writing Challenge



Martina D.

Building my small one-person business UP. Publishing & writing books for both print and audio. 📍London