bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog
The Last Bad Morning
Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Write a comment
I sometimes wonder what people reading Take A Break are taking a break from. I suspect that it’s from reading other magazines like Take A Break, but whatever it is, it isn’t being part of a House of Commons Select Committee on public transport. I am able to state this with authority after eavesdropping on a discussion that took place on a train the other week. It was a delayed train, and it was on the Essex side of London.
Actually, it was more than delayed. It had been irretrievably halted on the London approaches after someone killed themselves in front of it at Shenfield. I had retained a stoic attitude as the guard repeatedly apologised for the disruption this would cause our various mornings, reflecting that although my morning had been disrupted, it was not as bad as that which had befallen the deceased man. Or, come to think of it, the several mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights he must’ve had prior to deciding that this was a reasonable course of action to take. As a result of what was at least the very last bad morning he would ever have, my train was reversed back up a branch line to Romford. Here, transferring to a replacement service, was where I found myself at a table with the Take A Break ladies.
There’s nothing wrong with Take A Break, of course. I have an outstanding £100 bet with a mate over who can get a story into the ‘Aren’t Men Daft?’ section first, which I should probably take more seriously. A ton’s a ton, after all. I’ll probably supplement it with a picture of myself asleep in a deckchair – something of a prerequisite for the genre – frequent use of the word ‘hubby’ and the oil tanker I am supposed to be driving ploughing into a primary school, as the ‘daft’ thing I have done. There was widespread sympathy for the man under the train from the Take A Break ladies of course, but less so for the train company. To my mind, they were blameless; unless extending complimentary tea and coffee to First Class passengers represented an intolerable societal privilege, and this had in turn driven him to take his own life, they had no case to answer. I myself all but refuse to get on a train unless I can travel First Class, and had thought it was a lovely idea.
Their most popular suggestion for how to deal with delays on the rail network was to build another rail network, either alongside or above the existing one and just ’swap the trains over’ in case of incident. This met with all but a standing ovation from those seated nearby. One woman – whose tattooist must still be laughing – suggested that buses be kept in a constant state of readiness ‘every few miles’ so that delayed rail passengers could continue their journeys by road. There was also some criticism of the rail company for not enclosing all the rails in a massive tunnel, to prevent members of the unhappy community jumping in front of the rolling stock. Well, we can assume our man was unhappy. I would doubt that few people kill themselves because they are so blissed out that they simply can’t imagine life getting any better. In any case, putting everything in tunnels hasn’t worked very well for the London Underground. A tube driver once explained to me that due to the prevalence of ’suicide pits’ around the network, you were far more likely to slide under, rather than be killed by the train if you leaped from the platform, and end up alive but with your legs cut off. ‘Ironic really’ he mused ‘Because if you thought you already had problems, you’ve just doubled them’. We also agreed that the next time you tried it, someone would have to push you off in your wheelchair and then get charged with manslaughter, which be annoying for them. It pays to keep your chin, up if you can.
This all escaped the Take A Break ladies, who now moved on to speculation about the man’s funeral. One had been to a Celebration Of Life recently, and said that it had been lovely. My old man’s funeral was billed as a Celebration of Life, and as I shouldered the coffin alter-wards I reflected upon celebrations marked by a chapel full of plain clothes cops, relatives handcuffed to prison wardens and a police helicopter hovering overhead. It wasn’t exactly New Year’s Eve in Trafalgar Square. One of my half-brothers also applied to carry the coffin, but was refused despite being handcuffed to the largest human being I have ever seen. I thought that maybe they could handcuff him to the coffin till we got to the end of the aisle, and also put forward the case that he was bound to be missed if he absconded from a six man coffin carrying party, but to no avail. During my eulogy, I pointed to the coffin and said ‘Am I the only one not entirely convinced there’s anyone in there?’ which admittedly could have backfired, but the day was already surreal enough and in any case drew appreciative smiles, nods and noises from family members, and ‘You cocky little bastard’ glares from the law enforcement community. My old man moved in complex circles. I found myself thinking that if the man under the train had had his life celebrated while he was actually alive, he might’ve been heartened enough to continue living it. On the other hand, perhaps he wouldn’t. Some people are going to do what they’re going to do regardless, I suppose.
Meanwhile, the Take A Break ladies chattered away happily. ‘I just feel sorry for this poor bloke, having to listen to us prattling on’ said one of them, nodding at me. The other, noticing I was writing furiously in a notebook smiled and said ”Ere – you aren’t writing about us in your notebook, are you?’ ‘No’ I replied, perhaps not entirely truthfully.
Kindle – All these posts can magically appear on your Kindle, if you like. Currently, they are the 111,380th best selling thing in the Kindle store, and in the listings they’re just behind a collection of essays taken from Doctor Who fanzines. On the other hand, they’re just in front of The Process Management Memory Jogger, which in capital letters demands that we all ‘achieve and sustain business process excellence’. I’ll mention that down the market on Sunday and see what kind of reaction I get.
Podcast – Monday’s podcast, which includes an examination of Spitalfields Life. This is a blog/book about Spitalfields and its famous market which I thought was worth discussing, being that the Gentle Author (who wrote it) seems to live in a far nicer market-related world than I do. Anyway. There’s also an insight into prostitution slang, the perils of vomiting in your own car, and a run down of last week’s post set to jazz.
Photards. This week’s romp around the photographic arts is:
Top: Inscription I found in a copy of Hemmingway’s The Old Man And The Sea on Kurt’s excellent second hand book stall at Greenwich Market. I liked it because it congratulates Madhu on her achievement in a Debating Society. She would probably say that on the contrary, it wasn’t that impressive.
Middle: Bill and his excellent porcelain stall, also at Greenwich. I love this stuff, proof that brightly coloured ceramics aren’t just for gays and the menopausal anymore.
Lower: Keith’s contribution to Danny’s stall decoration. It could never happen in Spitalfields Life, because everyone’s so bloody nice.