I Think The Clock Is Going Backwards.
So how was your New Year? I spent mine in front of the television licking a large Toblerone watching yet another attempt from London to showcase what they call the world’s best firework display. You see, it was great, but there has always been one thing that’s always nagged me about said displays – after five minutes of shooting explosives off St. Stephen’s Tower, there’s so much smoke you cannot see any more fireworks. The sentiment is best shared by the poor cameraman. You’re watching a camera flail wildly as its operator tries desperately to discover the source of the noise. You end up so dizzy you feel as drunk as the yobs on the street outside peeing on your car.
I settled down for the night to watch the display on the news and had what passes for an early night these days. I then cowered under my covers as the drunks marched down the street in a sort of drunken St. Patrick’s Day parade.
So, I didn’t do much for New Year’s because mum and dad were tired. What we normally do is this. The youngest (me) waits outside the front door with a handful of salt wrapped up in foil, bread, shillings and 40-year-old coal. It’s a tradition my great-grandparents brought here from Italy in the 1800s. Then midnight hits and I knock on the front door and I’m welcomed into the house bringing an assortment of gifts for luck and prosperity in the New Year. I’m not sure why Laziale people picked those items for New Year luck, though. Salt, bread, shillings and coal. Hey, that would be a great name for a band.
Instead, I’m going to question you about a strange rule of etiquette. You see, I’m not good with people – or anything, for that matter – and I’m quite socially inept. Watching me trying to function in a normal society is like watching a comedy farce.
I keep finding myself faced with odd situations whereby I’m not overly sure about what to do. Etiquette is instinctive for most people. But when you’re shy, trying to work out what the correct etiquette is when trying to function in everyday life is one of life’s greatest hardships.
For example, what do you do when the bus driver mishears where you’ve said you want to go, and gives you a ticket for a stop miles before your actual stop? At what point are you supposed to interfere and break the law by talking to the driver to tell him he’s been a complete tool? Oh yes, break the law. You’re not allowed to talk to the driver. You get fined. What is the etiquette for this situation?
So here’s the story. I get on the bus and I quite clearly say where I want to go. But the driver prints a ticket for ‘cemetery’. Which sounds nothing like where I would like to go, but I’m panicking because I know the bus goes passed the cemetery. I give him the £2.30; he gives me no change, so I presume he heard. But I’ve now got a bum ticket. If the inspector comes on the bus and checks my ticket, I get fined £1000 for defrauding the bus company. I check the ticket and I’m looking around trying to find some clue what to do. Walk up to the driver and talk to him? Nope. I get a fine for distracting the driver. Sit and wait for the inspector and get fined a ridiculous £1000? I was in a conundrum.
I feared he was going to stop the bus because he slowed down near the cemetery. I considered hiding behind the seat in front so he wouldn’t see me. In the event he did stop, I even considered blagging my way out of the situation by cobbling together some gibberish, in a petty hope that the driver thought I was some foreign exchange student who couldn’t understand English.
So there I am, on the bus approaching the cemetery and I notice the driver slowing down and giving me the most evil glance in his rear view mirror. I’m there trying desperately not to look at him. Over and over in my mind I’m saying ‘don’t look at the driver, don’t look at the driver’. My heart was racing. And like everyday life, where I feel exposed, it turns out it was for nothing. All was fine. I got off the bus at my stop, the driver didn’t say anything and I ran like the wind.
I tell you though, really, what are you supposed to do in that situation?
Life is hard. I said before that I struggle (I know it’s stupid), just walking down the high street. I struggle not to be frightened when I go to the shops. Mind you, I went into a watch shop this week to get a battery and I did have good reason to be frightened. The man behind the counter looked liked that deadbeat lunatic from every Steven Segal movie. Or Steven Segal as he’s better known.
Since this post has had a whiff non sequitur-ness about it, I’ll end with a beautifully random quote:
‘Incidentally, Collin’s piano playing is widely believed by faith healers to hold miraculous powers. It once made a blind man deaf’, said the late, great English jazz musician and broadcaster Humphrey Lyttelton (referenced in Post 28).
Peace Out :|: