Sunday, March 19, 2006

Grumpy Old Man Monologue No. 2 – Knee Jigglers

Sometimes, seen out of the corner of your eye, spied over the top of your newspaper or book, half glimpsed across the aisle are the Knee Jigglers. They sit oblivious to the world around them, usually absorbed in a book or staring with empty eyes out of the carriage window, with one or both of their knees moving up and down constantly. The rate at which the knee moves varies with each individual Jiggler. Some are slow, but the vast majority seem to vibrate their knees at speeds rarely seen in the animal world. For the Jiggler's fellow traveller this presents a distraction almost impossible to ignore. The concentration of those around the Jiggler collapses, and all they can think about are jumping patellae. However it's not always the knee that is afflicted for these Jigglers. It can be a foot, doing a constant little dance on the carriage floor or maybe suspended from crossed legs. Whichever, the effect is the same on the observer; extreme irritation that elicits an urge to lash out at the jiggling appendage with a rolled up business section. This though rarely happens due to the etiquette of commuting. In fact even asking the Jiggler to cease their unending movement is taboo, so the jiggling goes on and silent pain of the non Jiggler continues...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'm not grumpy...

I have been watching the BBC's grumpy Old Men TV show, where middle aged British male TV personalities whinge on camera about things they find tedious and stupid about modern life. It has made me realise something - I am a grumpy old man. At the beginning of the show the narrator - a brilliantly chosen Lionel Jefferies, states that the generation of men in the age group 35 to 54 are the grumpiest of all. That hit home a bit, as I just fit into the lower end of the demographic, and I get very annoyed and frustrated at society in general these days, ergo, I am a grumpy old man...At first, just because I fell into that age group and had the occasional whinge about things, I didn't necessarily think I was that grumpy, but when I watched it with my wife, she turned to me and said "That's you, you know?" That made me think, and I realised I agreed with these grumpy old men on the show, and found that they were grumpy about many of the aspects of modern life I too am grumpy about. So I have decided to examine some of the things that cause my grumpiness in a series of posts called The Grumpy Old Man Monologues.

Grumpy Old Man Monologue No. 1 – The Loud Person On The Train

I cannot help be get angry when, having carefully chosen the least noisy and most boring part of the carriage to sit, I am disturbed by a Loud Person. Again and again this happens.

Imagine a peaceful commuter carriage scene in the earlier morning. A little quiet murmuring, but nothing you can really decipher. Everyone is minding their own business, reading the paper or half asleep. Upon boarding I carefully select my spot, as far away from any potential source of disruption as possible. But with monotonous regularity, usually one or two stops later, a Loud Person gets on. They look around, for a good spot on the half empty train, then head directly for me. They often travel with a quiet person – this allows them to speak at high volume to a real person rather than be forced to call someone on their mobile. After settling down in the seat directly in front/behind/beside me, the Loud Person proceeds to launch into the most asinine conversation possible with their long suffering travel partner. This partner nods at intervals in total agreement with the Loud Person and very occasionally actually says something, but never loud enough to be heard. This one sided conversation is full of spurious, cringe worthy detail such as the travel itinerary for their planned trip to Noosa or the Gold Coast in six months or how the new girl at work is a useless waste of space. Of course I could simply move seats, but the fact I was there first and letting these people win galls me too much to do that. However sometimes I have to resort to such actions in order to preserve what little sanity I have left. Occasionally I even need to move to a different carriage only to find yet another Loud Person there as well! I have a theory that the public transport organizations actually provide at least one Loud Person for every carriage. It’s as if they are evenly spaced along the length of the whole train – ensuring any chance at a quiet journey is completed destroyed.

In the next post we shall address the question: foot and knee jigglers; excess energy or full bladder?