Tag Archives: life

Becky says things about …. dreams

Dearest listeners, I had a most peculiar dream the other night.

I dreamt I was wandering the corridors of my old school and came across a lady I used to know when I was a teenager. We had a little chat – an ‘Oh hi there, haven’t seen you in ages, how’s it going?’ sort of chat, all very normal – and then suddenly we were both standing in a pool of steaming water, completely naked.

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And as if that wasn’t startling enough, we then had a steamy naked hug. Not a sexy hug – this wasn’t The L Word, or anything – just a ‘Oh well, we’re in this steamy pool and we’re naked, we may as well have a hug’ hug.

And then I woke up.

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Listener, I cannot explain this dream. I haven’t seen this lady in well over a decade. Sure, she pops into my head to say hello every now and then, as most people from my past do from time to time, but why should she suddenly wander into my sleepy dreamy brain? And how did Dream Becky get from the corridor of my old school to a pool of steaming water? And – perhaps the most pressing question of all – why were we naked? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being naked as much as the next gal, but to suddenly get naked with a lady I haven’t seen for over 10 years seems a bit forward.

It wasn’t an unpleasant dream by any stretch of the imagination. The hug was a bit sweaty, but if anything it was nice to see her. I might give her a call and say hi.

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Isn’t the brain mad and wonderful? Confusing and sometimes terrifying, certainly, but what an occasionally brilliant place to be while you’re asleep! It is a rare treat when you have one of those excellent dreams that you try desperately to squeeze yourself back into when you feel yourself waking.

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Whilst wandering through a gothic cathedral in a recent dream, I stumbled across a smashingly good-looking chap in a Bond-y tuxedo, and we proceeded to do some rather compromising things behind the alter. It was, frankly, thrilling, and gloriously distasteful.

Unfortunately, just as things were getting really disgraceful we were interrupted by a man in a tall white hat, whom I can only assume was a dream pope.

And then I woke up.

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I’ve done so much more in dreams than in real life! I’ve rescued Jeremy Irons from falling out of a skyscraper window. I’ve explored a mystical underground realm with a team of Girl Guides and hidden from a foul subterranean monster (I can’t remember if I saved the Girl Guides – they may well have been eaten). I’ve been on stage with Liza Minnelli and performed a Western-style dance number before an audience of green people.

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It’s not all been exciting, though. I once dreamt I walked into my parents’ living room, stood in front of their DVD collection, selected a DVD, put it on the coffee table, then sat on the arm of the chair. I didn’t even watch the DVD. Just sat there. Waiting to wake up, I suppose.

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Then there was the time I dreamt there was no cutlery in the world, and I awoke confused and full of questions.

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Sometimes it’s taken a while for my dream to leave me. I once slid into consciousness with the phrase ‘All words are spoken upwards’ tumbling round my brain, and for a good five minutes I was convinced I’d stumbled across some profound linguistic revelation, then eventually realised that there was nothing profound about it and my head was full of nonsense.

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Then there are the bad dreams. The anxiety dreams.

The teeth dream.

O, the teeth dream.

Is there anything worse than the OH SO REAL feeling of your teeth wobbling, falling out one by one, and crumbling to dust in your mouth? Feeling the grit and the crunch, like a mouth full of gravel. The dread, the helplessness, then the absolute RELIEF when you wake and frantically feel all your teeth and realise you don’t have to call the emergency dentist.

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I suppose we just have to accept that when we’re asleep our brains do what the hell they want, and if that means ladies from our past strip off and give us steamy naked hugs, then so be it.

NB. Psychoanalysis of the abovementioned dreams is unnecessary, thank you very much. They have already been comprehensively logged in the book of Becky’s Incredibly Strange Nocturnal Brain Antics Volumes 1 – 67. 

 

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Becky says things about … the last days of term

Can you hear that, fair Listener? It is the ecstatic collective squeal of school children around the globe as we approach the summer holidays.

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And, if you listen carefully, you will hear the exhausted wails of several thousand teachers.

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Fact: there is nothing more exciting than the last days of term.

Amongst the hysteria and the chaos and the inevitable child that got over-excited and quietly soiled herself in assembly, one thing was certain as we approached that last golden week: teachers would stop doing their one job.

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Each lesson would become a lucky dip of unfathomable treats. What would await us on the other side of the door? A TV on wheels, stationed at the front of the class like a proud, tubby Emperor?

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Or a wordsearch? The end of term is the one time in a human being’s life when a wordsearch is legitinately and shamelessly thrilling. When presented as an alternative to distilling some water, or reciting the German for ‘When the weather is good, I play tennis*’, a wordsearch is your ticket to happiness.

*Wenn das Wetter gut its, spiele ich Tennis. (Aber, wenn das Wetter schlecht ist, spiele ich Tischtennis.)

Sometimes, however, the teachers couldn’t even bring themselves to provide us with any form of stimuli, and instead left us to our own devices.

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Oh, the thrill of getting away with slight alterations to your uniform! The teachers’ stringent term-time sartorial rules would gradually relax in the run-up to the holidays – they would half-heartedly frown at your trainers, or your whimsical approach to doing up your tie – until eventually they literally didn’t give a shit.

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There were vague last-ditch attempts to send us on our way with some educational remnants in our brains, by making us sit through a final assembly on the importance of listening to our parents and doing our Tudor projects over the holidays, and remembering at all times that we were representatives of the school, but they may as well have been talking to a hedge.

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And the peak of a mountain of almost unbearable happiness? The half day.

As the clock inched to 1pm on that final day, the teacher would take a last register and tell us to get the hell out, and as we left the school gates we would wipe away a single tear.

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Oh, yes, I enjoyed years and years of tremendously exciting last days of term.

Until my very, very last day of term, in my third and final year of university.

I sat my last exam in the second week of a six week term. As I put down my pen on my Literature of World War One exam, I realised, with a strange mixture of elation and trepidation, that I had just completed my life in education. The years of coursework, seminars, lectures, revising, binge-eating Malteasers, were over. (Happily, it soon transpired that my life of binge-eating Malteasers had only just begun.) Naturally, I wanted to celebrate.

I rushed into the pub, expecting to find willing drink-gin-until-we-puke comrades, but was instead met with a silent citadel of revision.

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I went home, had a cup of tea and watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, so I think you’ll find I had the last laugh.

So, enjoy these last days of term, particularly if they are your very last, as from now on there are no last days of term: just a continuous drudgery of work with no foreseeable end.

Enjoy!

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Becky says things about … the first day of Uni

Wondrous Listeners, many 18 year-olds are about to embark on the biggest adventure of their lives: University.

(Well, the second biggest adventure – the biggest adventure is the epic trip to Wilkinson to buy more kitchen supplies than they will ever use, 90% of which will spend the entire first year under their beds, never touched by human hands).

So what happens on the first day of this epic adventure?

I shall tell you a story.

My first day of University was on the 21st of September 2003.

[Pause while I consider the dreadful fact that this was 12 years ago.]

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I arrived at the concrete jungle that is the University of East Anglia with my parents and my younger sister. I went to the Student Union (what the hell was a Student Union?) to collect the keys to my room, trying to swallow the fear of being surrounded by more 18 year-olds than I thought existed in this world (where did they come from?). The girl who handed me my key said ‘Oh, you’re in Waveney Terrace. I was in Waveney Terrace in my first year. You’ll have a wicked time! Just don’t be put off my appearances.’

My mother almost drove me home there and then.

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The girl was not wrong. I later heard a rumour that the design of Waveney Terrace had been inspired by that of a Swedish Prison, and there were definite incarceration-like qualities about it: a great, snaking concrete building that ran from blocks A to Q, each block with four floors. I was in N Block. A long corridor, seven rooms on each side, one kitchen with a McDonalds-style plastic table bolted to the floor, and a ‘bathroom’ with three toilet cubicles and one shower.

One shower.

For 14 teenagers of various genders and hygiene standards.

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My room was a tiny breeze-blocked cell with a single bed barely big enough for Billy Bear and Huggy Bear (yes of course they came with me). My family and I stoically unpacked my things, my ears pricking at any sound of approaching fellow students. After a couple of hours, my family said they had to go.

I waved them off, watching their car trundle across the muddy car park.

I went back to my cell and stood in the middle of my few possessions. What did you feel, Becky? I hear you cry. Was it excitement? Freedom? No. What did I feel? I’ll tell you.

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I then undertook the single most incredible feat of bravery that I have, to this day, ever performed: I swallowed the burning urge to burst into tears and hide under my bed, legged it up the corridor and exploded into the kitchen where two people were sitting awkwardly at the table, and yelled

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[Extracted from Chapter 3 of ‘How to Break Ice’, by Prof. Becky Mayhew]

And so it began. One by one more quivering teenagers skulked into the kitchen, each eyeing the others with the fearful stare of a rabbit about to be ploughed over by a Ferrari, and I realised something wonderful: everyone was shitting themselves. Probably the greatest realisation of my young life. It made it so much easier. (Note to any impending Freshers reading this post: always remember, you are only as scared as the Fresher next to you, and he is cacking his pants.)

Conversation happened quickly. Judgements were made almost instantaneously (100% of them turned out to be wrong, obvs). Soon there were about ten of us bundled into the kitchen, and so I learnt another important nugget: on your first day of University you spend a lot of time yelling place and subject names at people, and it works remarkably well.

 

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After we’d all exhausted ourselves by yelling our home towns at each other, someone uttered the words that would become the most frequently used phrase next to ‘Whose eaten my Admiral Pie?’: ‘Shall we go to the uni bar?’

And off we trundled, clinging to each other like King Penguins, to the heaving Uni bar which was full of other clinging groups of King Penguins who were – hallelujah! – all shitting themselves. And there, over insanely cheap drinks (99 pence for a gin and tonic. I know. Take a moment to digest that) more barriers were broken down, common interests were discovered, and I bonded with Mel and Emma in the toilets when my bra strap snapped.

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And then, a couple of hours later, someone said ‘Hey, I’ve got some cheese – fancy going back to halls?’ And we must be the only Freshers in the history of Fresherdom who went back to halls at half past nine on the first day of Uni for cups of tea and a cheeseboard.

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Then came the dread: it was suddenly half one in the morning, I was exhausted from being so inhumanely sociable for so long, and I wanted to go to bed. But no one else had gone to bed. I couldn’t be the first one to go to bed! I would forever be remembered as The One Who Left the Party Early. I knew how crucial this first day was, how important first impressions would be. Fortunately, the urge to snuggle up in my Aspirin packet-sized bed outweighed the fear of being labelled lame, so I bade them goodnight, claimed that I’d been up since five that morning (a heinous lie, but needs must), and scuttled off to my room. And, even more fortunately, about half an hour later, I heard them all do the same.

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So there are several morals to this story, which you may like to share with anyone who will be starting University in the next few weeks:

  1. Congregate in the kitchen. The kitchen is the centre of your world on your first day.
  2. Don’t let your parents hang around. The longer they hang around, the less time you will have to yell your home town and subject at your new friends.
  3. Even if you want to crumble into a sandy heap of terror, run up to the nearest housemate and bellow your name in their face.
  4. Never forget that everyone else’s pants are equally as soiled as yours.
  5. Bring a cheeseboard.

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Becky says things about … THE BOOK IS HERE!

Darlings, it’s here!

This Ridiculous Life, the book I have penned and self-published myself, which is a fabulously spruced-up and revamped collection of some of the things I’ve said on this blog – as well as some lovely NEW things – is back from the printers!! Look:

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Click on ‘Buy This Ridiculous Life’ right up at the top of this page, and buy This Ridiculous Life.

Look, Stickman’s been standing out in the cold for ages – at least make his endeavours worthwhile.

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Thank you, dear Listeners. Thank you.

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Becky says things about … laughing

Since the news broke last Monday about the smackingly sudden exit of our short, furry and funny friend Mr Williams, the Internet has been transformed into a veritable psychology journal, brimming with probing analyses of depression, suicide, alcoholism, hope, lack of hope, life and death. Darling Listener, I don’t want to add to the already lengthy index of opinions on the meaning of life; and besides, who am I to comment on the bleak, crushing force of depression when the saddest moment of my day was realising I left my lunch at home?

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So, most splendid listeners, let us focus on the bright side of life; let us look at what Mr Williams made us do when he put on a rubber mask and shouted ‘HELP IS ON THE WAY, DEAR!’ or when he told Rufio he was a paramecium brain:

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O Listener, I just love laughing. I love every kind of laugh: the painful, uncontrolled giggle that invariably results in an undignified piggish snort; the silent, head-shaking nose-laugh when someone tells you a joke that is wrong on every inconceivable level and you know you are going straight to hell for finding mirth in it; the unexpected, explosive laugh that may well result in an unexpected, explosive emission from your lower regions that you definitely didn’t intend and which you hurriedly try to cover up by making your laughter acutely disproportionate to the thing that made you laugh in the first place.

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Just today I have experienced that joyful, convulsed state that is brought on by perhaps one of the most delicious laughs of all: the ‘finding-something-vaguely-amusing-at-work-and-trying-not-to-laugh-because-the-office-is-quiet-and-people-are-working-which-makes-it-a-thousand-times-funnier-and-eventually-you-are-choking-on-your-own-fist-and-tears-and-sliding-wetly-around-in-your-chair-like-a-floppy-otter’ laugh. Can I remember what made me laugh? Can I bobbins. The laugh made me laugh. The same naughty and forbidden laugh we all experienced a dozen times a day at school when we passed a note that said ‘Mrs Lamos has a hairy back’ during silent reading time.

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Laughter is in everything: that well-timed belch in the middle of a meeting; the little trip up a kerb that you have to turn into a run; the accidental sign-off ‘Love Becky xxx’ in an email to an extremely important and solemn chief-executive; the tail-end of a conversation overheard in the street.

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But we all know that there is no greater joy, no laugh more acute, than the laugh expelled at the misfortune of others. O, Listener, how many ribs have I bruised guffawing at the suffering of my friends! When my chum slipped over on the wet deck of the Statan Island Ferry, going from a perfectly stationary position next to me –

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– to this position –

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– in less than a second and for apparently no reason, I laughed so much that a concerned German had to walk the entire length of the ferry to help her up.

The story of another buddy, a normally dignified yet cumbersome sort of fellow who, whilst stomping home with a bag of fish and chips, fell over his front gate and was deposited in a flower bed, will cause me to erupt in a splatter of glee every time I think about it. My father running into the patio doors, my best friend tripping down her stairs and landing in a heap at the bottom; my sister – crouching and mid-wee – falling backwards down a grass verge into nettles after panicking when I told her there was someone coming (there wasn’t); my boss pretending to use his office chair as a wheelchair and promptly wheeling himself out of it; my pal drunkenly stumbling through a park at night and failing to notice the large pond in the middle of it – all these things make me ecstatically happy.

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Sadistic, you say? Nay, Listener – tis not sadism. Tis merely a keen appreciation of slapstick comedy. We all laugh when Oliver Hardy is bashed in the face with a solid wooden plank, or when Stan Laurel is run over by a trolley bus – why shouldn’t we laugh at our friends and family members doing stupid things?

Life throws up many surprises. Some, like a leaky roof or syphilis, aren’t particularly pleasing – but others, like discovering the wit of our fellow humans, are magical. The world is full of funny people. You, my most dear Listeners, are hysterical. There is barely a liquid I haven’t dribbled painfully through my nose whilst reading some of your blogs or your comments to my posts. And, whilst some of those liquids were especially painful, I loved every second.

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We are all used to comedians showing off their best jokes and their most sparkling wit – but it is the ordinary Colin on the street that makes me laugh the most. Overhearing a grumpy exchange between two old blokes in a pub can brighten my day tenfold.

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What’s better than trudging through your daily commute with a thousand other sorry souls, every single one of you despising the human race and everything it stands for, and then having your train driver come over the speaker and say ‘Good morning everyone – as you can see, we’re going nowhere fast. I wish I could tell you why we’re stuck here, but I can’t, so instead I’m going to tell you that today happens to the be the 30th anniversay of the release of Wham’s astounding hit single ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’… and if someone could please wake me up before we go go, that’d be very much appreciated.’

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I made myself laugh yesterday when I went to get in my mother’s car, which I begged her to let me use while she’s on holiday, and to which she eventually agreed against all her better judgement – and I discovered its battery was flat. Dead as a squashed badger. I left the lights on. Is this a royal pain in the arse, and one that will potentially cause me stress and grief and a ‘Rebecca, you can’t be trusted with anything’ comment? Undoubtedly. But I have to laugh. Particularly because I have no intention of telling my mother, and she will only find out by reading this blog post from her hotel in Greece.

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Listener, there is sadness and sorrow and despair in the world. We know this. Anyone more than five years older than us delights in telling us this every single day. But there is also laughter. And Mr Williams may or may not have contributed to some of the laughs in your lives, but he has been the cause of a billion smiles over the world, and I’ve certainly enjoyed mine. Wherever he is, I hope he’s trying on his old Mrs Doubtfire costume, parading in front of a mirror, and chuckling.

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Charlie Chaplin said ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’. And, whilst it is undoubtedly easier to laugh on some days than others, this isn’t a bad mantra to live by.

 

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Becky says things about … being a rubbish woman

Firstly, I’m going to neatly gloss over the fact I haven’t blogged in nearly two months by using Stickman’s yoga skills as a distraction.

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Thanks, Sticky. You’re a pal.

Sublime listeners, I am rubbish at being a woman. There are so many things that society expects of women that are simply beyond my capabilities as a human being with boobs.

I cannot style my hair. I think I have the wrong type of hair. I think my hair is broken. I am forever gazing enviously at women with whimsical corkscrew curls, with sleek businesslike ‘up-dos’, with fringes that sit happily at their allocated angle, with pins and clips and grips that create veritable fountains of  coiffured abandon – whilst I sit under the humdrum melancholy of a frizzy ponytail.

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I have tried, Listener. I have followed YouTube videos to the letter, I have bought contraptions and equipment more reminiscent of open heart surgery than a casual grooming session; I have come dangerously close to breaking my neck as I contort my body in front of the mirror to achieve what bottles and tubes call INSANE VOLUME or GRAVITY-DEFYING BOUNCE (a scientific paradox, I’m sure you’ll agree, as to ‘bounce’ surely means an inevitable descent after an initial ascent, thereby succumbing to gravity and not defying it in the least) – and all to no avail.

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Just the other day I bought THERMO ROLLERS, determined to acquire a carefree-wavy-mermaid look. I followed all the instructions. After 20 minutes of looking foolish in front of myself, I unravelled the rollers in quiet anticipation of the twirled glory to come, and achieved the following:

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I am also rubbish at nails. I don’t understand how women can keep their nails looking so lovely. I can’t operate nail files, I can’t afford constant manicures, and stick-on nails are surely for the under 18s or the over 80s. I yearn to be able to drum my talons on a desktop, or drape my hand elegantly over my neck to show off my sleek red manicure. My nails look like a hobo’s teeth. Ragged, torn, unkempt finger teeth. This is not a good look.

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And what of contouring? That peculiar, Cosmopolitan-induced concept of facial contouring. Drawing lines on your face to make it look more 3d than it already is, to give you a smaller nose or a more defined jawline or a less spatially-consuming forehead? Those girls on YouTube casually flick orange bronzer all over their mug and before I can say ‘Oh gosh, someone should tell her she’s put on way too much and she looks like someone’s tried to draw a map of the North Circular on her face’, she does something flicky and brushy with an enormous brush and she is transformed into a flawless, beauty-pageant superstar. I am filled with confidence at how easy it all is, and attempt to do the same, with the following result:

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I forget to moisturise. I would love to be that girl who lovingly swathes her limbs with creamy goodness morning and night, and slips about the world like an oiled nymph, un-plagued by the dreaded freckling of dry skin on tights or the raw, chapped knuckles of a cruel winter. And, on the next level, I would love to remember to exfoliate. I want to buy a loofah and use it, instead of have it mock me from its untouched position in the bathroom cabinet, a devilish symbol of my failure to remove my billions of dead skin cells and reveal the nubile smoothness underneath. I want a life that is not tormented by that silent, watching loofah.

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I can’t darn. I have never mended a piece of clothing. I cannot thread a needle. I have tripped over a thousand over-long hemlines, I have trailed them in the mud and crud and hoisted them up like a rebellious princess on the way home from a forbidden rave, and I have endured all this without ever once thinking ‘Maybe I should learn to darn’. I fear my clumsiness and general cack-handedness would render the exercise disproportionately dramatic.

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Clumsiness is another foible. I am the most inelegant, elephantine lummox to ever walk the earth. I cannot do anything delicately. The simple act of raising a water bottle to my lips to quench my thirst is done with such vigour, such carelessness, that 11 times out of 10 it results in a terrible over-spill situation which, when I am talking to my boss, or trying to impress a dude, or surrounded by live electrical equipment, can be somewhat trying.

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I make more noise performing everyday tasks than a herd of obese T-Rex rushing to the opening of a new fast-food diplodocus restaurant. Cupboard doors bang, Tupperware clatters to the ground, bins tip over, windows break, mirrors shatter, roofing slates explode, children cry. I get so caught up in the whirlwind of my hulking ineptitude that I actually wonder why things are crashing to the ground. If I stopped clodhopping around for one second, I’d realise that the wasteland of devastation around me was actually caused by the fact that I am a hopelessly maladroit bint.

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I have never cleaned my oven, flowers perish in my presence, I do not own an iron, I drink lager from the bottle instead of a delicate G&T by the tumbler, I never dry between my fingers after washing my hands, I obsessively watch Man VS Food instead of The Great British Bake Off, I forget my eyebrows exist, I sneeze like a walrus farting, I leave socks lying around, I don’t know my bra size, I hate ponies and gerbils, I would rather shove my face in a ribeye steak than nibble daintily on a lightly-fried hake fillet, and I have never mastered lipliner.

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I’d ask to come back as a bloke and see if I do any better, but I fear that looking after an extremely delicate and vulnerable appendage 24 hours a day would be too much to handle. As it were.

 

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Becky says things about … commuting

A multiple choice question for you, lovely Listener.

Would you rather:

a) Peel off your own cheek, rub salt into the bloody gaping hole, then staple the skin back to your now irreversibly deformed face;

b) Attempt to crawl inside the anus of an elephant who has just suffered from what his keeper calls ‘a wobbly tummy’; or

c) Stand in a confined space with your face inside the armpit of a stranger, and breathe in not only his gasses and vapours, but the gasses and vapours of a million other people in the same confined space for an indeterminate amount of time, twice a day?

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If you have opted for a) or b), you are most likely a commuter. Hello, fellow commuters. My name is Becky, and I am a commuter.

Twice a day, I stand in a train carriage along with approximately 2,450,957 other people. There is nothing pleasant about this.

I am short, Listener. I am 5 foot 4 inches. I therefore spend a great deal of my time standing below the faces of people taller than me, and when I am trying to read my book it is difficult to concentrate when I am caught in the violent torrent of a tall man’s nose breath.

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I board the morning train looking like this:

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and disembark looking like this:

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This is displeasing. It has also taught me that tall men breathe A LOT. More than is probably necessary.

I try to use the commuting time to read a book, in order to edify my mind. However, due to the fact that I am crammed into a small box with those 2,450,957 other people, this doesn’t always work out.

Example of failed reading #1:

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Example of failed reading #2:

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Oh, the intimate proximity of others, Listener. Faces everywhere. I turn my head to the right and my eyeball brushes against the eyeball of the man next to me. I turn my head to the left, and the girl chewing gum over my shoulder accidentally bites off my nose. I am so trapped I can only stare directly at whatever is straight ahead of me. On a recent journey, this happened to be an old, faded streak of bird poo on the back of a man’s jacket. By the end of the journey I was livid. JUST GET IT DRY CLEANED YOU FILTHY MONSTER. A whole journey staring into the face of another human’s evil disregard for cleanliness. Hellish.

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As a commuter, you learn to perform everyday actions at a minute fraction of their normal spatial requirements: sliding an object out of your bag with a movement invisible to the naked eye; holding your phone against your retina in order to text. This doesn’t always work out: last week my headphone wire got caught in the spokes of my umbrella as I was trying to fold it away into my bag, and my head ended up being sucked into my own handbag.

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And what if a song that you don’t like comes on your iPod? Or if the volume is UNBELIEVABLY LOUD AND IS LITERALLY RIPPING YOUR EAR DRUMS TO SHREDS AND WILL CAUSE YOU UNTOLD AURAL PROBLEMS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE??? There is nothing you can do about it. One of your arms is wedged against the testicles of an overweight businessman, and the other is pinned to your side by the force of 594 school children. You must spend the journey either being musically abused by the song you don’t like, or being deafened to the point of tears. The only thing you can do is just be brave, Listener. Brave.

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I entered a train carriage the other week to be faced with a man’s backpack. It was preventing me from getting my whole body inside the carriage, which is often necessary for a safe journey. I politely asked the man to take off his backpack so there was more room for me.

The man answered me with a cold, hard stare that said ‘When you die, I will not only give an incorrect church address to all your mourners, but I will visit your lonely grave and write in marker-pen on the gravestone: ‘I’ll wear my backpack wherever the f*ck I like”.

I was thus forced to hope that my body was mostly inside the train carriage, and as the doors closed, I was relieved to discover that I had not lost a crucial appendage – until I realised that my hair had become trapped in the door. I realised this because it forced my head to slowly lift towards the ceiling, so I had to spend the entire journey gazing quizzically aloft and pretending I was thinking deeply about something, with this bastard’s backpack wedged against my chin.

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Commuting is like being thrown into a Room 101 filled with all the horrendous things about human beings that you already hate. Incessant clearing of throats. Loud breathing. Snorting. Sniffing. Swallowing. Loud chewing. Random and inexplicable grunting. Loud private conversations about Sebastian’s unreliable cornet tutor or Roger’s worsening hernia, or loud business conversations filled with buzzwords and acronyms that make you want to vomit into your own sleeve.

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Commuting is the Devil’s journey. Commuting is our penance for all the bad things we have done in our lives. And our reward for our morning’s worth of psychological and physical abuse?

Work.

Brilliant.

 

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