bulk :: 15st 1
gym visits :: 3
bananas :: 8
hate-fuelled violent fantasies :: numerous
promises to blog more regularly :: numerous
I have a very close friend who is not very well and currently undergoing treatment for the scariest, most serious of all diseases. You know the one. On Tuesday morning she came to London for a hospital visit in South Kensington, after which we met for lunch. Then we went to see Gran Torino, then we caught a tube to Holborn to meet some of her other friends for a drink.
On the tube, my friend started to feel unwell. We managed to find her a seat, but she was feeling really woozy and looked like she might be about to pass out. Also, she said: ‘I can’t hear anything’, which – although I tried my hardest not to show it – I found kind of terrifying.
We held on for a couple more stops and slowly made our way up and out into the late afternoon air, where my friend drank some water and tried to breathe her way to recovery. Unfortunately, it was rush hour in the middle of central London, so the streets were packed with commuters rushing at full speed and the air was putrid with petrol and general city stench.
We were busy trying to find a little space so my friend could gather herself, when she told me she thought she was going to be sick.
Outside of Holborn tube station is one of those large kiosks you often find outside of busy tube stations. This one sells handbags, scarves and other fripperies. We walked into the space between the back of the kiosk and the railing, and my friend leant over the railing so that she might be sick into the gutter if it turned out that she had to. She was fighting it, hoping it would pass, but bent over the railing just in case. I was standing next to her, my hand on her back, feeling scared for my friend and helpless, but trying to support her as best I could.
As we stood there, behind this kiosk, the guy who runs the kiosk popped his head round the back and shouted, angrily, ‘Don’t be sick there’. I shouted back that my friend wasn’t well and he disappeared up the front again.
As it happens, my friend started to feel a little better and we wandered further down the street so that she might further recover and make a call to find out exactly where her friends were. At which point I caught the eye of the kiosk guy and he shouted something else, something about people always being sick behind his kiosk. He was a thickset pugnacious individual and his manner was very aggressive. I was angry. I wanted to explain to him that his aggression was misplaced, that my friend was seriously ill. So I left her talking on the phone and I went back up to him.
I said, ‘My friend’s not well. She’s really ill, you know.' I'm not sure why I didn't say, 'She's got cancer', but I didn't. It may have been something to do with not wanting to cheapen her condition by even mentioning it to this pig-headed yahoo. Instead I said, 'It’s not like she’s drunk or anything.’
He said that he didn’t care. He said that people were always puking behind his kiosk and it stinks. My face changed to one of hateful rage.
‘Yeah?’ he spat, squaring up to me. ‘Come on then.’
I asked him what he was saying and he pointed out, quite rightly, that I’d made a fighting face, so he offered to fight me. I said I didn’t want to fight him. I told him I just thought he was being really inconsiderate. I repeated that my friend was really ill, trying to get him to understand that this was much more important than the possibility of a fleeting whiff in the street. Which was when he said, ‘Alright, she’s ill. So what?’
My face fell and I shook my head in despair.
‘Alright, mate,’ I said. ‘Thank you.’ And I returned to my friend, who had heard none of this, and I tried to put it behind me.
But I can’t. It keeps going round and round my head, this guy’s lack of concern for his fellow man. I think of his face, his anger, the void where his humanity should be, and I hate him.
But hate is wrong. I know hate is wrong. It goes around, comes around, increasing in intensity, solving nothing. All these fantasies I have where I rerun the conversation in my head and pull a gun on this heartless boor or projectile vomit into his open mouth; fantasies of organising a vomiting flash mob to turn up to his stall and fill each and every last one of his handbags with puke; fantasies of swallowing a hundred laxatives and turning up at his stall at 6am and smearing every inch of his workplace with stinking, repugnant liquid excrement – they’re really not helpful. And I don’t know what to do with them.
I understand also that there is every chance he’s actually a perfectly nice guy, who just happened to be weighed down by the pressures of working in the centre of a hectic city filled with drunks and thugs and idiots. And I found myself wanting to know if that was true. So I did a strange thing. I went back to Holborn this morning and spied on him for a while.
As I spied, I considered approaching him again and asking if he remembered shouting at a sick woman on Tuesday, and offering to fight her friend who was just trying to take care of her. I wondered if he'd feel bad.
But I didn’t take the risk. He still looked like an obnoxious little thug to be honest. The kind of person who wouldn’t think twice about knocking someone to the pavement and kicking them into the gutter.
So I came home.
It was a very sad incident. If not depressing. And it left me feeling pretty helpless.
I'm still not sure what to do with the feelings it's tossed up. Except write about them, and share the sadness.
In other news, today I befriended a fabulous squirrel. Here it is with one of my nuts in its mouth…
Awww. Nice one, squirrel.
Now, have an excellent weekend, whatever you may be up to, and if you see someone in distress, for God's sake, be nice to them.