Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Mere Bagatelle

The other evening I arranged to meet a friend for a drink in Hastings. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the train journey was hellish: standing room only, with a very rum selection of passengers.

The experience was made even worse by the family below:

The group consisted of two women - possibly mother and daughter - and an assortment of noisy, feral children who kept running around and disappearing under tables and seats (if you look carefully, you'll see a face slightly to the left of the baby). The younger children were all barefoot and liked dashing in and out of the loo, which is not something I'd want to do without shoes on.

At first, I thought the women belonged to a certain stereotype - they had the cheap leisurewear, tied-up hair and harsh accents. But then they started talking about visits to Pevensey Castle and a workshop they'd just been to. Also, the whole family were busy feasting on fresh fruit and drinking pure juice, so my crude social classification radar was starting to overheat in the face of so much conflicting data.

After 50 minutes of hell, I concluded that they were New Age 'crusties', returning from some sort of alternative 'do' in Brighton. They all seemed very cheerful. It's a pity that they were so oblivious to everyone else's feelings.

Fortunately, the journey home was very different - a reward for my earlier trials:

I am now four days into my role reversal with my wife. She seems to be doing terribly well in her new job, while my main achievement this week has been to crash the car. I'm waiting to hear whether it can be repaired or not.

Despite having its front smashed and losing the engine coolant, the car managed to limp back to Lewes. As I drove, I could see bits falling off. A group of workmen watched me go past and laughed uproariously. The labouring classes can be very unkind sometimes.

I'm trying to balance the demands of my business with being a minor domestic god, preparing cooked meals for the evening, keeping the house clean and fitting in a few DIY tasks. I'm doing reasonably well, but I wonder how long it will last before I end up spending my days on the sofa, reading and eating Turkish Delight.

When my car was still in one piece, I managed to get around the local area and take some more Instagram photos. I'm posting them because, frankly, it's much easier than trying to think of something interesting or amusing to say.

Now that my life is increasingly dull, expect more photos.


Martin said...

Haven't dropped by lately, Steerforth, but so glad I did today. Your post brought a smile to my face (for all the right reasons, I hope), and your pics are a delight.

Tororo said...

"May you live in interesting times"; "may you live in increasingly dull times"... I wonder which one is to be preferred?

Katharine A said...

Love the idea of your social classification radar overheating. Look forward to more insights on people to meet, overhear, sit next to and drive past. Love the grey stormy sky photo.

Sarah said...

This post really made me smile. I love the idea of lying on the sofa eating Turkish Delight.

Roger Allen said...

"The younger children were all barefoot and liked dashing in and out of the loo, which is not something I'd want to do without shoes on."

There are train loos I wouldn't go into without a pair of wellingtons and a bucket of disinfectant to wade through afterwards.

Anonymous said...

I always chuckle at your posts - and the pictures are lovely! Sounds like the journey from hell - when I travelled with my three when they were young I'd've been mortified if they caused that much havoc!


Blackout said...

1) Thank you for your Instagram content Steerforth, you see some lovely things.

2) Feeling your pain on the train journey, too; rudeness knows no class-divide.

And apologies for the blatant link-drop, but here are my thoughts on an all-too-similar situation:
(^^ language warning)

Judith said...

Great Pictures and post, probably sugar overload even if it is "all natural fruit" it packs a big sugar load. And yes the comments about the train loos are just perfect!

Steerforth said...

Tororo - I think dull is the new interesting. I quiet like the challenge of finding meaning in the mundane.

Katharine - The stormy photo is my favourite too, taken during the school run!

Sarah - There are worse ways of being, although I suspect that too much Turkish Delight would turn me into a toothless diabetic.

Roger - No, I only use them under extreme circumstances (i.e after drinking too many beers in London). They're not as bad as they use to be in the slam door trains, but are still pretty hideous.

Kaggsy - My one achievement as a parent has been to teach my sons to be quiet in public places. If they can learn respect and consideration for others, it will hopefully serve them well later - I'm sorry if that sounds a bit pompous.

Mighty Blackout - Thanks for the link. I agree that it probably wasn't worth it for 45 minutes and I expect you would have received an earful, but perhaps you and your neighbour could have formed a small angry mob.

Judith - That's true about the sugar. The children were certainly 'wired' and had no sense of personal space, bouncing off people and screaming. I pity their teachers.

George said...

When much younger, I drove a car back to the repair shop after the fan had punched through the radiator and the coolant had drained. This ruined the piston rings; ruining the piston rings led to fouled sparkplugs; and soon I was making the drivers of cement mixers impatient on any sort of uphill grade. I hope you did not damage your motor.

Sugar is on the whole a soporific: according to an MD I asked, children imagined to be wound up on sugar are usually affected by the caffeine in chocolate. Children are just not good at sitting still, and it sounds as those caring for them thought this just fine.

Travellin Penguin said...

I laughed out loud. We have our share of rude here in Tassie. Yesterday visiting the dog pavilion at Hobart show I had a young teenager girl actually ram me with her body to get past with her border collie. I was going to say something to her but my friend was talking to who I thought was her mother. I found out later that wasn't the case so now wish I had said something. The funniest things happen in our dull routines. I am happy to read about yours. Keep taking beautiful photos. P S One of our good friends is named Wm Turner. Loved the grave stone.

David Gouldstone said...

Whenever I take landscape photos the results are almost invariably disappointing, but you have the knack.

Anonymous said...

I have over 55k unread messages, including your blog posts. Yes that's a lot. I say this this because even with all the backlog whenever I stop to look over your blog posts, I am never disappointed. Especially loved the landscape pictures. Sorry about your car.

Steerforth said...

George - I suppose I'm a bit Victorian when it comes to children in public places, but I believe that even the most fidgety children can sit still if the parents take the lead. Failing that, perhaps they could be sedated.

Penguin - It often feels like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario, but I'm learning that saying something is usually better for my mental health than bottling up anger and resentment.

David - When I go out with my SLR camera with the intention to take stunning landscape photos, the results are always rubbish. I think the trick is to be able to snap something when you spot it. The downside is that my Instagram pics don't have a great resolution and lack clarity.

Anonymous - Thank you for such a kind compliment.

joan.kyler said...

I, for one, enjoy your photos. Living in the center of a large US city, I crave the openness of your country and small village photos. I can almost feel the breeze and hear the silence. Okay, I know the places probably aren't silent. It seems there's always a motor of some sort humming or chugging in the distance or a plane flying over.

And I agree with you about the children. We were taught how we were expected to behave in public, in church, at the market, etc. We were not allowed to roam and disrupt others. There are times and places to play and others when sitting quietly is expected.

Richard de Pesando MA(RCA) said...

Ah - that journey between Lewes (Brighton) and Hastings, into another world, another demographic, another timezone. I do it the other war round so I have the exact opposite experience. On Friday I escaped Hove after accidently ordering 'artisan' Avacado toast and a 'craft' beer that cost more than a meal out here. The family you encountered are legion here - I'm now blind to it.

Grey Area

Brett said...

I'd never heard of "crusties", but now that I have read about them on Wikipedia, I know who you mean. The national forests in Florida are often the sites of Rainbow Gatherings, and we get them in the library to use the Internet and look at maps. I loved your comic post. The "stormy" photo is my favorite too.

tristan said...

keep up the good work !

Little Nell said...

How sad that the apothecary’s gravestone had to point out that he left no iffue. Nothing about his sterling work with a pestle and mortar.

Steerforth said...

Joan - It's very hard to find anywhere that's free from the sound of traffic, however distant, but I've discovered a few spots where the silence is deafening. I hope that with the advent of electric cars, most places will be more peaceful.

Richard - Yes, it's a very different demographic: predominantly white, badly dressed, poor and vaguely menacing, with a tendancy to either be overweight or possess the skeletal thinness that comes from drug addiction. I just keep my head down and turn the volume up.

Brett - I'm sympathetic to people who challenge the status quo of Western capitalism, but the dope smoking, dreadlocks and lack of personal hygiene always puts me off. In that way, I'm depressingly conventional.

Tristan - Thanks.

Nell - And the poor chap didn't make it past 33. I only hope that he led a happy life and that his demise was short and painless.

Kid said...

Ironically, for someone nicknamed 'Kid', I deplore what children are allowed by their parents to get up to these days. They simply have no idea how to behave when it comes to respecting other people's space and privacy. And why do they always talk so loudly (shout, in fact) to one another when they're only mere inches apart. I fear for my old age, because they're only going to get worse.