Sometimes I hate this being English thing.
No, that’s not an allusion to the football. To give you all a rest, I have resolved that this blog will be a mentioning-the-football-free-zone for the next two weeks.
It’s to do with the way ones mind is conditioned to work.
Here’s an example. Friday. The station car park. I am approached by an unshaven and slightly wild-eyed stranger, who mumbles a request for a lift.
My very English thought processes go, in this order:
- I cannot refuse point blank, as this complete stranger will think I am rude and there will be awkwardness.
- I cannot pretend that I am not going in that direction, as somehow he will find out that I am lying, think I am rude and there will be awkwardness.
- He might be a maniac. However, being chopped into little pieces seems worth the risk, to avoid being thought rude and the ensuing awkwardness.
I therefore offer him a lift, with all the insane generosity of a Stephen Gerrard back pass.
Damn. Football-mentioning-free-zone starts now.
Our few attempts at conversation peter out. He stares out of the window a lot. Occasionally, he takes a packet of pills out of a bag and studies the instructions.
There is silence between us. Not the easy silence that you get between friends, but the awkward, awkward silence of awkward awkwardness. Damn you, this being English thing! I live a life doomed to awkwardness.
It’s that sort of silence that you get when you invite Arial Sharon and his wife to tea, only to find that you’ve double booked with the Arafats.
We drive a few miles. I concentrate very hard on the road.
Still. He does not seem to be a maniac. This is a bonus. It just shows. Just because somebody is wild-eyed and unshaven does not mean that they are a maniac. Thinking that would be akin to racism.
“What’s with the pills then?” I finally ask.
“I’ve been to a Chinese healer. He was amazing. I walked through the door, and you know what he said?”
“What did he say?”
“He said: ‘I can tell you get angry very quickly’.”
“And do you get angry very quickly?”
“Oh yes. Really, really angry.”
The wild-eyed, unshaven loon.
Silence fell again. By this point, we’d moved on from the Sharon/Arafat tea party debacle. It was now the type of silence that James Herbert would have featured, had he written a book entitled ‘The Silence’, about an evil silence that goes about turning people mad. Except this WASN’T a James Herbert book, so I couldn’t even skip to the porn.
We drove another mile. I dropped him at the petrol station.