Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Train Of Thought.

New Year's Eve, and I'm on a train.

I'm in an astoundingly bad mood, and am also six hours away from my final destination. My head and heart are pounding from the conflicting feelings of being very sorry to leave where I am, and being bloody glad to get home.

I start to wonder where the 'twat on the train' is.

It's a rule of ‘Rail Travel’ in this country: you cannot travel a lengthy distance without encountering a stranger - usually sat next to you – that you would not murder with a smile on your face. He is the ‘twat on the train’.

Perplexingly, all is fine. It’s a bit crammed. But that’s all.

With great relief I open a can of strong drink. I’ve had a couple before I got on but it’s fine. I’m unhappy. I’m allowed to be unhappy and have a can of strong drink? Yes? Yes. There is no ‘twat on the train’ so I am ok.

A couple get on and sit at the aisle opposite me. I assume them to be married.

He’s a ‘snorter’.

“Oh God,” I think to myself. “Just don’t say anything. He’s got a sinus problem or something. Just keep quiet.”





His wife seems very serene and totally involved in her book. CAN SHE NOT HEAR?

She must be deaf. She’d have divorced him.


Christ. I’d leave him. I’m not even married to him. Fuck.

I can LITERALLY hear the grotty sputum gurgling around every single cavity in the man’s head. EVERY ONE.

Looking at my watch, I realise I have at least four hours of Captain Disgusting to put up with.



The easy option is to put in my headphones and ignore him. But it’s busy, the metal tube I’m in is crammed with people and I’m unwilling to give up any of my senses. Not when there’s this many randoms around.



I shove my hands into my pockets in frustration and find a massive amount of napkins – the sort you pick up when you have children, thinking they might be handy later in the day.

Slamming them down in the tray in front of the Snorter across the aisle I say:

Me: HERE. Thought you might like these.

Odd silence.

Snorter: Oh. Erm. Did I drop them or something?

Me: No. It just sounds like you REALLY NEED TO BLOW YOUR FUCKING NOSE.

Odd silence.

An hour later Snorter and his wife depart. His wife pauses only to peer at me and say:

Snorting Wife:
I just want to say – I think you are a very rude man.

I think nothing of this, until York, were - with a flourish - I get off the train, and realise a number of things:

I do not live in York, or indeed anywhere near it.

I’m really going to have trouble getting anywhere near my home at this hour.

3) I am astonishingly drunk.

4) I should probably make some resolutions. Along the lines of : ‘not being a total cunt. All of the time.’

I could very well be the ‘Twat On The Train’

Scratching at my unsuccessful Christmas beard, I resolve to not only get home but to stop being totally unpleasant, probably starting with people I’ve not spoken to in awhile.

After all – what could go wrong?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Intentions.

I’m on the phone, listening to the ‘ringing’ tone whilst I wait for the other person to answer. The person is a client; the director of a small advertising agency. I’ve not been able to get through on any of the landlines, so I’m trying her mobile.

She answers, and we exchange the usual pleasantries.

Me: Anyway, so it’s been nearly a year since I last spoke to you so just thought I’d check in.

I have what many may think an unappealing habit of completely dropping a person the moment they cease to be immediately useful to me and never making contact with them ever again. My past life is littered with abandoned friends and family members.

The friends – well, I’ve never had any problem making new ones, probably to the amazement of anyone who regularly reads this horrible blog, so big deal. And the family members – well, fuck'em, you know?

But I’m starting - with this phone call to a lady that I used to know quite well and speak to very regularly - to try and feel the spirit of the New Year and the good intentions that are supposed to come with it and that.

Old Client: Oh don’t you know? Of course you don’t. We had to liquidate the business six months ago!

Me: Oh.

O.C: Yeah yeah had to lay-off twenty-five people. Terrible. No fun, no fun at all.

I’ve been robbed of much of my motivation here, but persevere.

Me: What happened? I mean was it the usual thing with, you know ….

O.C: Oh nonono nothing like that. The accountant was stealing.

Me: Eh? Who? Lesley? [Her name wasn’t Lesley] She seemed really pleasant whenever I spoke to her. [To ask if she was ever going to pay me, as it happens]

O.C: I thought so too. She’s halfway-through a two-year prison sentence for fraud now.

Me: Right.

I’m really at a bit of a loss now. Old Client is making no effort to end this conversation, but I’ve nowhere to go. I could ask about her family but knowing her school-age son to have a crippling combination of autism and ADHD and also the trouble she’s had finding a suitable school for him – to the extent that she even tried to create a new one tailored for other children with her son’s special requirements – I don’t really want to go there. I’ve such a low level of natural empathy I could be fucking autistic myself.

Right then. Well. Ok. [Old Client is silent. She’s not making this easy on me] You’re alright yourself though?

O.C: It’s been quite a year to be honest. My sister died ….

Me: ………

O.C: ….and my daughter’s been diagnosed with cancer.

Me: ………

O.C: It’s in her brain.

Me: ……..

O.C: So, anyway I’m really not doing much in the way of press advertising these days…

Me: Well, God, no, well, of course…

O.C: I’ve a couple of small clients that I do occasional stuff for so I’ll be in touch, but it’s more a hobby now. Lot’s to do, you know? Good to hear from you again though.

Me: Ah. You too. Er….

O.C: [With remarkable cheeriness] Alright then babes, later yeah? Be good!

I hang up. She always ended a conversation ‘Be good!’ It suggested a mutual naughtiness that rather amused me.

I take the imaginary ‘My Name Is Earl’ – style list of my new good intentions and tear it up. And stamp on it. Then set it alight. Before pissing on it, and then burying it in a field of bastards.
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