5:47 – rush hour. Crowds of commuters make their way up the dirty steps alongside me, in unison. The only sound that is heard is occasional chatter that of footsteps tapping the graying marble floors.

I reach the top and enter Victoria Station. The first thing I pass is the bureau de change and I notice an Indian old lady wearing an oversized, knitted cardigan sitting on the steps leading up to it. She seems to be resting but who knows?

I continue on my way to platform sixteen and pass the flower stall and the coffee shop which is full of people stopping for an afternoon coffee and croissant. As I go by, I breathe in the sweet smelling flowers and the strong coffee smell mixed with freshly baked goods.

The overweight "charity lady," as I secretly call her, is standing by her usual spot by the huge pillar in the middle of the station, shaking her box up and down. Her hands really must ache by now, I sympathize.

A bunch of teenagers, seemingly tourists, sitting on their huge suitcases in the middle of the station, are squabbling in a foreign language.

Someone is shouting, "Free London paper, London paper free!" as fast as he can whilst handing them out, and policemen in bullet-proof jackets are scattered about the station.

I glance at the huge screens advertising the trains, with what seems to be at least a hundred people of every shape and color standing in front expectantly. The big digital clock reads 5:59. With only three minutes left to catch my train, I start to run; it would be a shame to miss it.

I whiz past WHSmith, Whistlestop and the stand selling magazines and reach the long row of barriers. Once through them, it is only a short sprint to the train and as I board, I am relieved that I have made it, if only just.

"This train will be calling at Clapham Junction, East Croydon and then continue fast to Brighton…" The familiar announcement echoed softly in my mind but my brain did not register it. I was completely absorbed in my thoughts as I stumbled through the overcrowded train looking for an empty seat.

When I at last spotted one and sank into it, I was disappointed when I looked up that right opposite me sat the extremely annoying Knuckle Cracker. I turned my head away in disgust, not hiding my resentment. However, the Knuckle Cracker did not seem to notice and continued with his knuckle cracking habit.

His head and shoulders were bent as he was leafing through 'thelondonpaper.' His receding hairline reminded me of a beach whose tide is far out. His black, windswept hair streaked with grey and white made me wonder his age, as he did not possess a single wrinkle. I also wondered if his grey hairs were because of his age or because of stress, as he certainly seemed to be under a lot of pressure with his knuckle cracking.

He had a very defining feature… His extra large ears which were always a deep pink and his lobes were the size of a ten-pence coin. His wide, pimpled nose with hair protruding out of it, his bristly chin, and rimless spectacles each played a part in defining the character of the Knuckle Cracker.

He always tried to dress immaculately, yet every so often I would notice a trace of a stain on his sleeve or collar. However, his Marks and Spencer suit remained pressed and crease-free at all times but he never wore a tie. His Blackberry was constantly in his hand and he could often be found typing away furiously on it.

And yet, despite his appearance, he got on my nerves so often I had a hard time restraining myself from an outburst. Now, as he sat absentmindedly cracking his knuckles in between turning the pages of his newspaper, and as the people around me got on with whatever they were doing, I resigned myself to yet another tedious journey with an aggravating, crackling noise throughout.

Mrs. Scorah looked rather hassled today, I noticed, and was later proven right. When I went down during my math lesson to fetch the keys to the storage cupboard, as I was asked to do in order to collect the new textbooks, I overheard her speaking to someone on the telephone. "This is the last thing I need to be disturbed about. With Ofsted inspectors coming in this week, I have more than enough do."

Her wooden desk was cluttered with all sorts of bits and bobs. Empty and full plastic pockets, chewing gum wrappers, red, yellow and black lever arch files, registers, the first-aid box and somewhere in between all the mess was a silver laptop open wide. Beside her Nokia lay a calendar open on the wrong month and on the wall beside her lopsided filing cabinet was an Olan Mills portrait of her four children.

I pointed to the keys on the corner of her desk and she waved her hand, indicating that I should help myself. As I continued with my task, I couldn't help but thinking, Ofsted? Inspectors? In our school? What are they going to say about the fact that we have no tissues in the toilets and about the condition of the art room? Maybe they'll finally do something about it, or maybe they won't, and they'll have to close down the school. But the worst bit is that we will have to be on our best behavior at all times which can be quite challenging.

Anyway, it wasn't really my concern, as I had much more important things to worry about… for example, my dilemma regarding the Knuckle Cracker and how to avoid him on my way home today.

I often thought about the Knuckle Cracker in between his cracking as I sat across from him on our way back home. He didn't make it easy for me as he barely showed any signs of a personal life.

One time however, I heard him say in one of his rare phone conversations something about "Charlotte." This made me speculate; who was this mysterious Charlotte? His wife? Daughter? Boss? Mother? Charlotte could've been anyone.

I also thought a great deal about the reason his awful habit came about, and also about his profession. Maybe he's an actor who is very nervous about an upcoming performance or maybe he is under stress because of financial reasons? What's his name, I often wondered? Harry? Calvin? Fitzgerald? Is he married or divorced? What about kids?

It was all such a mystery to me. These thoughts often helped me to calm the tension building up inside me each day and take my mind off the annoying sound.

His twisted fingers and large knuckles made me feel nauseous each time he cracked them. Sometimes, depending on my mood, I empathized with him. This poor man will have no knuckles left by the time he turns fifty. But mostly, I wished that he would just get lost, literally.

Usually what would happen is that I would start a piece of homework, and when trying to read the question I would near then end, and then the crack would come. I would then lose my train of thought and have to start again until the next crack and so on. This really caused me to feel upset because I relied on my spare time on the train to do my homework. Every time. I would be thinking to myself, "Please don't do the crack, please don't do the crack." All I would be concentrating on was the cracking and no work would get done.

Tension mounted with the Ofsted inspection taking place the following day. Teachers hastened to put together lesson plans, pupils caught up notes and made sure all work was up to date, questionnaires were filled out, and fire exit signs put up. Our breaks were spent cleaning up the classroom, wiping the desks, washing and sweeping the floor and scrubbing the windows. The whiteboard was wiped and not a trace of marker was left. Our classroom looked so much better because of our efforts. A sign was put up on our classroom door: "Form 4." Tissues were finally put into the toilets as well as soap for washing our hands. The art room was cleaned thoroughly and the hall floor was varnished. All of this bother for those ridiculous inspectors.

Sitting in the overcrowded carriage once again with the Knuckle Cracker, cracking, at intervals as usual, I had just had enough. It had been a particularly trying day with the teachers just piling on the homework plus the never ending stream of tests, and I was in no mood to be irritated once again.

I was trying my hardest to concentrate on my history coursework assignment due the next day and I could no longer contain myself. Without thinking I exclaimed, "Would you mind not doing that? I'm trying to concentrate on an important homework task. Please, could you try to be more considerate of others?"

I looked down, not wanting anyone to see the culprit of such a despicable outburst and, furthermore, I could feel the other passengers eyeing the rude, self-centered teenage school girl who dared open her mouth to an older gentleman.

I kept my head down but could definitely not concentrate on my homework. I had surprised myself with the outburst. It was not typical of me. I tried to comfort myself by saying that I had asked politely, saying please, and assuring my conscience that he really was to blame. But, deep down, I knew it was wrong of me and as the cracking grew less frequent, I knew he was trying to make an effort on my behalf, when really I didn't deserve it.

When I finally plucked up the courage to look up, I noticed his ears had gone from the usual deep pink to a vivid crimson color and it was then that I became aware of the fact that we both were burning from embarrassment and shame.

The classroom felt different. Today was the day the inspectors were due to arrive and no one was smiling. Even though we had worked hard, very hard, our school was far from perfect enough for inspectors.

Our desks, lined in neat rows of four had not one extra item on them besides for what was needed for the lesson. Everyone had their school shirts tucked in and hair pulled back neatly; even Amy, who was known to have the messiest hair in the class, had somehow plaited it to look half decent.

The squeaky clean whiteboard stood at a perfect right angle in the corner of the room and every locker was tidy with white, sticky label on the front stating that persons' name.

The notices on the notice board stood like soldiers in the Queen's army. Every girl stood silently by their place waiting for the teacher to walk in. Judgement Day had arrived.

The science lesson began on a good note; the teacher, slightly nervous about the inspectors, started by writing the lesson objective on the board as she is meant to but never does. She handed out worksheets and we delved into the subject of molecules and atoms. I was completely absorbed by the new knowledge I was gaining, I failed to notice the opening and closing of the door, and a man walking into the classroom.

It was only when the whole class stood up that I looked to see who had walked in. I immediately recognized the man with the extra large ears and rimless glasses. He glanced at me sideways whilst politely saying "Good morning" to the class.

We sat down and resumed the lesson while he seated himself on an empty chair and observed. However, I could no longer concentrate on the lesson when the man whom I had embarrassed in public was sitting in my classroom. How could this have happened? How was I supposed to know he was an Ofsted inspector?

Luckily I wasn't the blushing type, otherwise the whole class would have noticed my embarrassment by now. I wished I was a wizard in Harry Potter and could just make myself disappear.

I managed to get through the lesson without the teacher realizing I wasn't listening to a word she said. When it ended, we all stood up for the teacher to leave and she made her way out, with the inspector following her.

But he had a slight detour to make and he reached my desk before I could understand what he was doing. All he said was simply, "It's a small world, don't you think?"