Saturday, 20 June 2009

...les autres

I've just been out onto the local high street to run a couple of errands. Had a perfectly pleasant morning, getting up quite early and just pottering around the flat - feeling quite clear-headed and refreshed.

It's slightly odd at the moment when I walk out and round the corner. The house next door has been vacated recently, and is still standing empty: no curtains or nets, and one can see from the front window right through to the back of the property. In the large, empty front room, all bare walls and floorboards, is a single chair: its wooden surface disguised by cracked white paint; sat on it is a golden-haired doll, staring blankly.

It's rather eerie, one can begin to construct horror-movie narratives, especially when espying the doll on returning home in the late evening.

Anyway, I walked along the street, and as I neared the high street - the main shopping area in this part of the city - I felt my otherwise light mood start to plunge.

Saturday morning - therefore, other people. Lots of them.

My tolerance isn't what it used to be, and I think that's quite an understatement: years ago, back when I was still alive, it didn't seem like a Saturday unless I'd gone out on the bus and spent some time in the city centre, amid the throng and the bustle. These days I can hardly bear it, and unless I'm heading into the city for a specific reason, I'll avoid it like the plague. In fact I'm far more likely to get on the bike and head in the opposite direction, into the bliss that is the countryside.

There's nothing that winds me up more than people who either don't look where they're going - or worse still, don't care that they bump into you as though you're not there, who seem to act as though the street is solely theirs, or who seem surprised when they (say) take a few backwards steps, that there are actually other people behind them. So surprised that they don't even think to say sorry to the person they've just inadvertently elbowed or stepped on or whatever.

Surprised or ignorant, or both. People who never care to admit that they might be in the wrong.

So it's not without trepidation that I realise that, in an hour or so, I'll be heading out into the city centre. Thankfully, the reason for the journey is that I'll be going straight to the train station, off to go and see friends elsewhere, and it takes mere minutes to get from the bus stop to the station. I still know that there'll be way too many opportunities for my tolerance levels to be severely exercised though.

In an aside, I recall one of my more recent Saturday jaunts to the local high street (relatively bearable, at least compared with the hell that is the city centre) - one of my favourite shops is on a quieter side road, and I'd been perturbed to note that the shutters were down.

I bumped into the shop owner that same evening in the local pub - a nice enough bloke, but the weight of the world often seems to be perched upon his shoulders. I asked if everything was ok, I'd noticed that the shop wasn't open today.

The crestfallen look of sheer gravity and despair on his face was quite singular, and the ensuing conversation was a bit of a struggle: I was rather reminded of a certain comedy sketch - thankfully in this case, no fatalities ensued as a consequence.


Zhoen said...

My tolerance for crowds depends largely on my own alertness. But there are just so many more people around, wearing me down. And when they are all on cell phones, they really are oblivious. Adaptive for them, not so much for society in general.

Janette Jones said...

Where do I start? Food shopping is the bane of my life, why do people aim for you with their trolley? I will not even entertain going anywhere with large crowds and why must people constantly have their phones glued to their ears and then look as if it's your fault when they bump into you? Grrr!

Angela Recada said...

Hello! Just found your blog through Mandy's. I know what you mean about crowds and the rudeness of people in general these days. I'd rather not be around them.

Your reference to Monty Python was hilarious! I suddenly feel an urgent need to locate and wear a certain t-shirt I inherited from my too-cool teenage son which reads "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled elderberries."

Best wishes from Wisconsin, USA,

trousers said...

Interestingly, zhoen, I think my tolerance is slightly higher when I'm in other cities, rather than that which is my current home. It's as though I take it more personally here.

Janette, I realise that this could become a collective rant-fest! I think I'm less wound up by food shopping though (which isn't to say that I don't get wound up), I'm not entirely sure why, except that maybe people aren't rushing around quite so much in the supermarket.

Hi angela and welcome! The sketch I linked to was actually different to how I remember it (unless I was thinking of a different sketch) but is still appropriate to the conversation mentioned: it's as though this chap is permanently on the edge of dark despair, and I had just tipped him right into it (inadvertently, I must add..).

Let me know if you find that t-shirt :)

Reading the Signs said...

Les Autres are a nightmare, Trousers, and they're everywhere. Everywhere! But unlike you I'm worse in unfamiliar places; when the faces are familiar they stop being so autre-ish and become what might loosely be described as "my local community".

trousers said...

I know what you mean, signs, at least I think so: I do have occasional moments in unfamiliar territory perhaps similar to those you describe. On the whole, though, I think "elsewhere" carries less baggage.