Nick Cave is shrieking out of my CD player, a heavy bass hammering behind him. Seems like a fitting soundtrack to what I want to talk about. I promised myself I’d only post here when I had something actually worth the effort to set down. Somehow it fails to surprise me that what I want to talk about is loathing. I’m good at loathing. Pick your poison, I can do it. Loathing for my fellow man, loathing for the world around me, loathing for myself, I’ve got plenty to spare.
There’s a bit of all of it in this. Here it is, and you won’t here me say it often:
I fucking loathe London. I hate how it crawls inside your head and leaves its filth behind. A nasty little streak of shit across my brain.
Here’s what I said about London 18 months ago, edited a bit:
“Back in London, and a surliness is back in my head, almost a side effect of the London air.
There was a woman on the train was clearly either unnaturally friendly, slightly retarded, or just plain hatstand. She sat down and tried to strike up a conversation with the folk nearby. Me, I scowled and sent out “hungover, tired, filthy, and pissed off” vibes, hunching myself in and looking away. Being large, black clad and unfriendly looking has advantages.
Still, why do people (including me, obviously) react like this? She may have been over-enthusiastic but a conversation might have brightened my journey, and made her feel better. By the look of her National Express tickets, she wasn’t a native Londoner.
A thought: Would I have reacted to her like that if I’d been in Edinburgh? Or anywhere but London? I’d like to think not, because then I can blame “the city” for my character defect. But I’m probably just your typical breed of living shit.”
So, today’s anecdote:
Pleasant afternoon in Hyde Park with friends. Drumming. Swords. Slow-motion archery. Splendid stuff.
Tube home, less pleasant. Collapsed in seat, exhausted after all that unhealthy fresh air. People get on train. Drunk northern bloke. Moderately attractive woman with bags from shopping in trendy shops. Woman with pushchair and small child.
Small child starts running all over train, especially near northern bloke and shopping woman, who are sitting in seats opposite one another.
Gradually, I become aware that drunk bloke and woman (who may or may not know one another, it’s not entirely clear) are arguing. The subject of their argument is whether or not it’s reprehensible that a small child is being sent out to do the begging.
The argument gets increasinly heated. Eventually, drunk bloke gives the kid 20 quid and tells the child to piss off back to its mother.
The child is not begging, and the poor woman is mortified and humiliated. It’s at this point I leave the train.
Where’s the loathing in this, then?
All over the fucking place. For the behaviour of the drunk northern bloke. For the woman who was mortified that he would give 20 quid to a begging child. For the mother who let her child run all over the train when it was clearly annoying the other passengers.
But most of all, for me.
Because I’d made the same assumption that the drunk bloke had. I had assumed that yes, that child was begging.
What the fuck is wrong with me? Why is it that my reflex assumption about small children bothering adults on trains are begging for their parents? And, most especially, why is it that I ignore them?
Good god. Not only do I not credit people with enough dignity, but because I assume they’re poor and begging, I blot them out. Sure, today, I was right to. Just for all the wrong reasons.
I like to pretend I’m a nice person. Direct debits come out of my bank several times a month to various charities. It allows me to feel good about myself. Well, fucking bully for me. Apparently, I’m good at being nice so long as I’m not forced to actually look the needy in the eye. So long as I don’t actually have to talk to them.
That’s the sort of reaction my mother has. My terribly middle class mother. The one who I used to argue with about exactly this sort of thing when I was younger and more stupid. I used to say some fucking rotten things to her over this sort of thing. Now fucking look at me.
What fucking excuse is there for this sort of behaviour?