My most recent visit to London, and I was waiting to meet someone at Waterloo Station. Looking around nervously, scanning across everyone who walked past.
A bunch of football supporters walked past, shouting and chanting on the way to a match. Closer to me passed a couple, looking at them too. As they passed, one said: “I hate people.”
My friend Vee has a phrase she uses a lot: “PAC”.* Often, I have to agree with her. But they don’t always do it deliberately. They do it by accident, out of ignorance and rudeness. People are bad just because they don’t notice other people. They don’t think about other people, and they don’t think about the consequences of their actions. They don’t think about what other people are feeling.
Not all people, of course. I like to think I don’t do it, at least, not as much as average. I like to think I pay attention. Most of the rudeness in the world isn’t deliberate; it’s caused just by not noticing the people around you. Like the football supporters in Waterloo Station, striding across the concourse chanting and not noticing everyone else backing away.
* it starts “People Are…”
Samhain is coming up, so here are two vows for the next year.
Avoid getting close to people you don’t trust utterly. If you’re wary about somebody, you’re wary for a reason. The closer you let yourself get to somebody, the more you’re risking being hurt, even if neither of you realise it at the time.
Let people make their own mistakes. Some things can’t be taught; they have to be learned. Even if you can see they’re going to hurt themselves, sometimes you have to stand back and let them. If you try to stop them, they’re not going to listen, and you’re only going to make things worse.
This isn’t about you. Sometimes, when I post here, all I’m doing is talking to myself.
Do you like it when random people from your past bump into you in the street?
In my case, I generally don’t think I do want to get in touch with many more people from my past. All the friends I wouldn’t want to lose, I’m still in touch with; I still see them at least every year or so. The rest of my schoolfriends, to be honest, I don’t particularly care about. It might sound harsh, but it’s true. If I’d wanted to stay in touch with them, I could have done.
I’m thinking about this now, because yesterday afternoon I was sitting in a pub, having a bit of a munch with a few friends, when some random people start pushing their car into the car park. They come into the pub, and idle time away by the bar waiting for the AA to arrive. I glance at them and don’t think anything of it; but then, listening in, I suddenly recognise one of their voices. I sneak another look: it’s someone I knew fairly well at school.
I hesitated for a moment. But I didn’t particularly want to talk to him. I last saw him ten years ago, and have barely thought about him since. I didn’t want to tell him how my life is going now, what I’ve been up to, who these friends I’m with are, how I know them.
I looked up for a moment, and caught him looking at me, as if he was trying to place where he’d seen me before. I turned back to my friends, and back to the conversation.
Was in the pub last night—well, afternoon really. We were having a quiet drink, when a mad drunk bloke suddenly attaches himself to us. And he won’t shut up. Or go away. Neither of us are brave enough to tell him to piss off, so we just sit there whilst he rambles on about his life, his likes and dislikes, and ogles every girl that walks past.
Fortunately, we were in luck: a couple we knew wandered past and lured him away, giving us a chance to nip out and run to another bar a long, long way away. We really didn’t want there to be any chance of him bumping into us again.
I wish I was better at dealing with guys like that. All I could do was sit and smile and say “uhuh” and “ah, yes” every so often, trying very hard not to giggle. I must have said about ten words in total, whilst he went on and on about how great it was when he worked on the railway, his skill with a shunting pole, how he hates “arseholes” and likes girls with large breasts. Here was him going: “She was a double-G cup, and a dirty girl too” and I was just sat there going “uhuh? Oh really? I see” and so on; thinking OHMIGOD GET ME OUT OF HERE.
More people-watching: in the second bar we went to, there was a very cute-looking couple stood by the bar. He was tall, dark, seventies-style shoulder-length wavy hair, beard and moustache; the beard only covering the parts under the chin. His outfit would have shouted “funeral clothes” on anyone else—black suit, white shirt, black tie—but it just went with his face and hair so nicely, it just made him look smart and in-touch. His girl was dark-haired and dark-clothed, came up to just about his shoulder, and lent her head against him.
I love to watch people when I’m going about. I try not to be noticed, in case they think: “eek! mad stary person!”
Yesterday’s example: a bored-looking girl on a train. She kept looking out of the window, although the window pillar was in the way. I wondered at first if she was looking at other people, too, by their reflections. She was sat in the window seat, and would occasionally look across the carriage to the opposite windows. It was getting dark, so there wasn’t much to see.
Short, dark hair, with a spot on her chin. I liked her outfit: black trousers, black lacy top, black suede jacket; red skirt and cute red trainers. When she got up she moved nervously, trying hard not to touch people as she stepped over feet.