Before she found out just how close to her house the bus stop was, and the fact that the one bus on that bus stop had another stop right outside her workplace, Paula learned the long way to the ‘underground’ station to go to work. ‘Underground’ because the train travelled completely over the ground on the whole journey from Paula’s stop to work stop.
Paula was thankful for this. It was definitely nicer to travel by train if she could see the light of day while inside the train. Some days, she even brought a book with her that she had got from the library. But she soon abandoned this practice because the journey was so short. Most of the other passengers had longer journeys, however. Some of them got on the train on the stop where she left, before the train would head for deep, central London.
So most of the passengers fought for a sit so that they could comfortably read their books, which they had brought from home, or their newspapers, which they had bought in the newsagents at the tube station.
Until one day all this changed. Suddenly one day Paula got on the train and the scene she encountered seemed taken from a horror movie. No one was reading any book from home, and no one was reading any newspaper from the newsagents. Every one was reading copies of the same newspaper. Every one was holding it in the same way, with both hands. So she could see the first and last pages, all the same, on the hands of every one now in the train. She looked at the name of the paper.
The letters were white on a blue rectangle at the top left hand side of the front page. The papers were the same size as a standard European newspaper, known in this country as “tabloid”, as opposed to “broadsheet”, which was various times the size of a normal newspaper and which was impossible to read all spread out, like these people were reading their papers now, without seriously disturbing the people around.
Paula noticed that herself and the very few passengers who had got on the train at the same stop as herself were the only ones without a copy of this new newspaper. She also noticed that, although they were trying to hide it, the other passengers were as scared as them.
She later knew that this was the first free newspaper given out at tube stations (only her own tube station would take ages to be provided with its own stacks of said newspaper). And that this first free newspaper would inspire very similar ones not only in other cities of Britain, but of the rest of Europe too.
But at the time, she felt first scared at the whole surreal scene, then weird and then slightly annoyed that copies of the newspaper were not provided at her tube station and she always had to rely on other passengers abandoning their copies on the train if she wanted to read it herself. There were not that many copies distributed at the beginning and even in the office it became an item of exceptional sharing, on the days when at least one of them workers had managed to secure a copy of the thing.