A funny thing happened…

A funny thing happened on the way home tonight. Well, it wasn’t really funny but it made me think.

The train was, as usual, fairly busy but I’d got my seat next to window and was busy losing myself in Bill Drummond’s 45, a book I got from Hamish last year, read about 50 pages of and then put down for some reason. In two commutes and a bit of lunch time I’ve read twice as much of the book as last time.

Drummond as a writer has a similar effect on me to Douglas Coupland. During and after reading their work my mind works differently, I see connections and ideas that I didn’t before and feel a tremendous surge of creativity that invariably goes nowhere. In 45, Drummond writes about various synchronous events that take place in his life and he is also clearly a man with more than a vague obsession with numbers. I was formulating a numeric idea for the coming year when I read the following :

[The bus is] the perfect place to be if you are not a sociable person but still have the animal instinct to flock, to be part of the unknown masses.

At that exact moment I also became acutely aware of the drunk bloke sitting at the table across the aisle. You know the one, all happy and cheery wanting to talk to everyone and indignant when people try to ignore him in favour of their book or paper.

It seemed to me that this guy was breaking the idea of the unknown masses. He was trying to make conversation, forcing tired commuters to interact with him and each other, breaking that half hour they have to unwind, breathe and get ready to walk through the back door and assure that not much happened at work, how was your day?

I was glad have a buffer of another person between us but then we pulled into the station. Both of us were getting off so as I tried to maneuver out from the table without looking at him (to avoid conversation) he did that horrible drunk action of invading personal space. He put his hand on my back (for his balance or to help me out?) and offered to let me go first.

Part of me wanted to turn round and tell him I was capable of getting off the train without his help but clearly that achieves nothing but make me out as a Dick. I just moved off the train quickly, cursing this man I didn’t know while being almost grateful for the reminder of what someone who’s drunk looks like to people who are sober. I always have a better night out when I can hold onto that image.