The state of the world according to Groovenstein

madFriday night, I stopped for a couple of beers after work and then decided to head back to the suburbs to link the cru and continue my consumption of beverages. I had drunk a few and had reached that stage of comfort that comes on getting to Moorgate station, beer stomach slightly padded out by two rank cheeseburgers and finding a train going the right route nearly straight away. I was slumped in a chair, practicing bad posture so that I could lean my head back on the cushion behind me, ipod on some good tunes, occasionally sitting up to read from the paper on my lap, telling me about spats in high class restaurants and heiresses flashing their clefts while exiting mahogany upholstered vehicles.

Not such a bad feeling and I was celebrating my good fortune while the train waited briefly at Baker St, calculating that I would be in the pub within half an hour, with a good two and a half hour’s drinking still to go and the prospect of seeing some old friends that I hadn’t seen for far too long. This is always a mistake on the tube and I suppose when the beats kicking in my ears, became interrupted by the harsh blare of the carriage’s intercom, I wasn’t really all that surprised:

“Ladies and gentleman, I’m afraid we’re going to have to hold this train back for a little bit as someone has reported an untended item of luggage. We should be getting going in the next few minutes, once I’ve had a look through the carriages.”

Not a big surprise to us city-dwellers in a city hyped up for terror. No taking chances in these oil-war blighted times, but no big scares either. Sure, the tourists leaped up like they had fireworks up their Angus steakhouse fed arses, but the residents moved slower, like me, shuffling off the train, one eye still on their papers. I got off the train about half a minute after the announcement, relatively sure that this was not to be the moment of destruction, just in time to get brushed past by a kid leaping on to the train. He looked down where I had been sitting, saw nothing, opened the door to the next carriage and bolted through. By then I was off the train and I saw him re-emerge from the next set of sliding doors down clutching a small rucksack.

He was just a kid, maybe about 11 or 12, tanned of complexion, another tourist and he made as if to move off, but he was stopped by the enquiries of a white girl in her twenties just in front of me.

“Oh she said, is that your bag?”

He replied that he did not understand – “Sorry, I do not speak” English.

That was cool though – by then my alcohol slowed brain had unseized and I realised what the young lady must have meant. She had surely made the deductive leap that I had failed to make and realised that the untended bag in question had now been collected, no doubt forgotten by this French accented young chap, a little face ashamed of causing trouble and relieved by having found his quarry unransacked. Just a friendly little Algerian fellow.

rageI whirled round to face the tube driver whose search antics had by now nearly reached us and uttered something along the lines of “it’s ok, this kid just picked his bag up”, pointing arm at the kid about to make his way off, but then I realised something funny was going on. Behind me a strange high-pitched shriek was sounding. I couldn’t place it for a second or so. What was all this noise? Then I realised, as the shrieking reached banshee crescendo that it was the girl. I had been wrong about her initial enquiry. It wasn’t meant as a quick-witted leap of deductive reasoning to get us commuters on our way. It was the beginning of an attack, because now she was shouting:

“What did you put on the train?”
”What did you put on the train?”

I turned again back to face the scene, the girl’s face taut, the veins in her neck bulging as he let off the cacophony, nothing but hate in her eyes, the kid, her alleged terrorist, the demon in our amidst, absolutely terrorised himself, uttering placatory “I do not speak English” statements, wild-eyed himself and rightly so. Perhaps there was danger of a Menezes type bullet in the head from a special armed officer, off-duty and sipping on a hip flask, but still tooled up with a glock pistol and itching to shoot a foreigner after reading the Daily Mail that day. Perhaps this screaming English lady was going to seize him, her harpy painted claws scraping at his neck while she buried her vicious incisors in the dome of his head. I stood: too shocked to move or do anything just looking at her. She was Hitler.

Then, blessedly, the moment broke. The kid took his chance and darted down the stairs to the Bakerloo line behind him and the lady seemed to return in my eyes to just another pissed PA in a smart coat. I got back on the train and sat down. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel drunk any more. I felt sick.

Two days later and I still can’t get that scene out of my mind. Maybe I read too much into it. After two weeks of no blazing I’m deep in paranoia and anxiety attacks, twitching and trying to avoid fast moves or foolish statements that may ruin my relations for months to come. Still, it seems to me that moment was symptomatic of a culture entrenched in ignorance and fear. A place where the good deeds and actions of a sizable minority are devalued by the hatred, the racism and the risk averse, selfish actions of the majority. I agree with what Bennie says in his previous post and in what Breakingstein and maybe others have added. It seems right now this is a sick world and I for one am not optimistic enough in myself (right now anyway) to plan how it can be mended.

reach(a day later:) On other subjects, I realised this weekend that potentially one of my ill-fated romantic exploits of last year had seen me take the role of one of the main characters from Chasing Amy. That twisted my brain pretty badly. Then I popped round to my parents to get my post and found that the inland revenue had decided to hit me with a fine for £100 for the heinous crime of ringing them up and telling them that I was keen to pay my taxes. Apparently being keen is not enough and though I had not missed any form of payment schedule or attempted to defraud them in any way at all, because I hadn’t popped my head up above the parapet within their arcane bureaucratic timescales, I now owed them.

Still today, after a day’s webdesign I find myself cheered up quite a lot. It seems like maybe all this hard graft is about to come to something. A number of fiendish plans appear almost on the verge of fruition and though I risk damnation again by mentioning it out loud, Crosbie points out that we’ve pretty much turned a distant lean dream into a business reality. A digital camera ordered somewhere out in the Amazon realms of webland should be on its move towards my hands, a plan for a film is in the offing and despite all the knocks, I find myself once again indomitable. Hooray for bi-polar flights of depression and optimism. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way.

2 Responses

  1. Bennie says:

    Just the sort of experience you’re bound to have when you’re already a little on the paranoid side….everyone a terrorist and a terrorist for everyone. Latest surveys indicate the young Albanian terrorist boy to person ratio is now one for one – STAY INSIDE and, perhaps, SHOP ONLINE.

  2. breakingstein says:

    That just reminded me… when I first got to Madrid, I went out with a couple of mates, and this little bastard scally tried to pick a fight and then sprayed one of my pals in the face with pepper spray. Little bastard! We would have beaten the fuck out of him if it wasn’t that there were twice as many of them as us!

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