bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

All Aboard The Groovy Train

Dear Rachel,

I was on the Northern Line the other day, going from London Bridge to Camden Town, when I encountered one of the most distressing of all London Underground species: Spontaneous Comedy People. These are usually drama students or something who see it as their mission to entertain everyone on the entire carriage. They are the poor relations of flashmobbers, who are in turn the poor relations of self satisfied fucktards. Well, some flashmobs are alright. I liked the Tony Hart one, which was a lovely thing. But mainly all flashmobbers want to do is show you what a simply marvelous time they are having. Look at those ones on the T Mobile ad, all dancing at Liverpool Street Station. Al Queda must be kicking themselves, as if they had chosen that day to blow the place up instead of July 7th, Bin Laden would be Prime Minister by now.

Flashmobbers remind me of the aunt at the birthday party when you are about 11 who keeps trying to make you dance to Toploader when really all you want to do is sit quietly all evening without having to be seen doing anything at all. In fact, Dancing In The Moonlight would be an ideal theme tune for a flashmob, as it is probably the most hatefully smug song ever written, with it’s horrible door bell plinky plinky bit at the beginning. In 2002, I walked out on a first date with a girl who had it as a ringtone, on the very correct assumption that the relationship needed to be strangled at birth. I think I said that I was a diabetic and had left my insulin in the car, feeling that this was unromantic enough to kill the atmosphere without being overly gross, and made my exit post haste. I actually slightly have vague diabetes – I’m more of a diabetic sympathiser than an actual diabetic – but I don’t need insulin supplements in any format. I also don’t have a car, so it was a pretty big fib.

The Spontaneous Comedy People were trying to cajole conversations out of perfectly nice passengers by bouncing up next to them and saying yeah why is it that no-one talks to each other on the London Underground, or looks happy, or does anything other than just sit there looking miserable. This is the oldest of all old chestnuts ever and it gets right on my thrupennies*. For a start, there are only nine people in London who speak English, so unless they all decide to share a cab to work, the chances of them being in the same place to have a chirpy conversation are pretty slim. Also, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the London Underground network is actually a mass transit system.   It isn’t a roller coaster.  Moorgate is not Space Mountain.  There are no log flumes at Kentish Town, and no corkscrew between Euston and King’s Cross. I can’t claim to speak for everyone who uses the tube, but I just don’t regard it as a social networking opportunity.  I welcome the anonymity, as I can just sit nicely and read my book. On this occasion, I was reading Bierman and Smith’s excellent account of – yes, that’s right – the North African campaigns of 1941-43. While it is certainly a gripping account of the struggles of British and Imperial troops to contain Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the Western Desert, there just aren’t that many lol moments in it, which explains why I wasn’t chortling away merrily over the fall of Tobruk or casualy reports from Alam Halfa.

Anyway. As I sat quietly, lost in Allied counter espionage activity in Cairo and half listening to the Spontaneous Comedy People, it dawned on me that it wasn’t that people don’t want to chat when they are traveling, they just don’t want to chat to them. Also, the next time I have to hear about how gloomy people are on the tube, I am going to ask for the location of this magical transit system that everyone except me seems to know all about, where people high five you when you get on, offer you wine and nibbles from a buffet and form conga lines down the middle of the carriage. A lot of the time, especially in the rush hour, the London Underground is a genuinely unpleasant place to be, and the fact that people aren’t trying to constantly bite and scratch and maul each other is, surely, irrefutable evidence of the tolerance and good nature of the habitual tube traveller. Although admittedly, to save time explaining all that I would probably have just knocked them the fuck out if they had tried to talk to me, which happily they didn’t.

*Unnecessary (in a blog) rhyming slang – thrupenny bits = tits.

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