There is no taking the piss out of this because it has already gone too far by itself.
This is something I wrote a while back in Italy, I shall be publishing it chapter by chapter on here.
“You realise that if we get caught doing this we are both going to prison for a very long time?”
“Prison” I replied “No way, they’ll probably re-open Guantanamo Bay especially for us. We’ll have a penthouse suite” I laughed, but it was all nerves.
“Yeah well that would be kind’ve hypocritical man…” returned my companion’s voice, somewhere out in the darkness; possibly stoned. “… I heard about American scientists doing exactly the same thing to somewhere else.”
A pang of uncertainty hung in the air for a second, mixing in with the darkness, glass bottles clinked momentarily only to be hastily stifled. The tense sounds of two people trying desperately not to make any noise, still night air amplifying our every mistake, silence saturating the space around us as we emptied the containers and making time seem slow, beautifully fragile sounds standing out in the stillness around us so that we openly winced with every noise.
Stifled curses, bad words whispered.
“You sure you got the dose right though?”
“For fuck’s sake don’t start!” I hissed, concentrating “You were there when we made it and took the measurements, its a few parts per million at the most…” My voice was muffled through a balaclava; it was a voice that reflected the fact its owner hadn’t been getting enough sleep lately, a voice that suggested the balaclava was itching like hell. “…Though admittedly that’s enough to kill a herd of elephants if it was all in one go…” I added clumsily, my mouth bypassing my brain.
“I thought elephants were supposed to be pretty resilient to stuff like this though? What about that one in Oklahoma you told me about?” My companion could be pretty slow on the uptake at times and was talking now out of sheer nervous fear.
“…Anyway it’s released slowly, it was designed to, There’s no way it won’t work.”
The consequences of this, known at this time only to us, made for a rude gesture in the theatre of our minds. It didn’t bear thinking about and so our thoughts mercifully changed channel.
“Hey… You know what happened to that elephant right?” I said tiptoeing carefully into a conversational dead end.
“What? He had a nice dust bath and some interesting dreams?” There was a tinge of hope in his voice.
“No, he died.” Then after a moment’s pause I added “poor old Tusko.”
Another lengthy pause.
We looked solemnly from our hacksaws to the cut away section of piping before us, reflecting for a moment on the trouble we were about to cause.
“Maybe…” began my companion.
Suddenly a long sweeping beam of light erupted in the darkness followed by a voice that certainly didn’t belong to either of us.
“Hold it right there! Don’t move a muscle.”
A split second later there were three voices, all talking at once and all moving many muscles extremely fast; thankfully the ones moving fastest belonged to us.
“Shit the bed, its security! Dump it, dump it; come on lets split!”
As we hurtled away from security the town below slept quietly and unremarkably, pretty much as it did every night, but things would soon be changing. I both loved and loathed our home town; just big enough to have a campus of the local university but not big enough to have anything unique, small enough to have regular markets and to see someone you know each time you walked down the street but yet just large enough to be overrun with faceless coffee bars and hairdressers in a way that created a sense of detachment for its inmates, especially the chavvy kids, the disillusioned generation of tomorrow of which there seemed to be a few more every week. Soon though this would all be in turmoil and nothing here would be grey and dull. The would be less of the same old drudgery that was often mistaken for cosiness in our streets, no more kids standing idly around the market place trying to look menacing through expressions of boredom, no more endless supplies of identikit old ladies cluttering up the streets between each charity shop and spending a fortune on bargains.
This place had been so steeped in normality for so long that it had become painful just to wake up there each day, nothing more than watching the grey paint slowly dry and flake off on another groundhog day. Soon though there would be a lot going on, none of it making any sense. With luck we would bring the entire place to a complete standstill for a few days, completely breaking the status quo. This bubble would be burst by our escapade and people would be forced to confront something unusual; only then would we see the true colours of the occupants that passed each other unseeing each day. By tomorrow this quiet leafy town would be plunged into chaos, puking up all of its truths in multicolour into the pavement and it would all be because of us.
“Bloody hell, you didn’t have to hit him!”
“You know, I think I did actually, I didn’t want to get caught!” I said tearing off the balaclava in frustration and rubbing my face.
“Ok fair point, but maybe not so hard, Christ he went down like a sack of potatoes.”
We were still together, thank God, far away from the cut away pipe and the slumped figure of the security guard, allowing our hearts to beat slower in a small wooded clearing; just left of the middle of nowhere.
“It’s bloody dark” my companion suggested helpfully, before adding “Look there’s blood on the end of your torch, that’s not good; well not for him at least.”
“Look…” I replied as I started to collect dry wood “…He went down and we didn’t get caught, one small hiccup and other than that we got away clean, there’s not a chance he saw either of us.”
“I didn’t sign up for any violence though man…”
“I didn’t either, you know me I’m the original goddamn peace loving hippy beatnik but it happened. Rather him take a wallop than us get pinched; there’s a lot more violence in prison for a start. Now let’s burn our clothes and our gear and split up and if you still want to argue with me I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Fair point, let’s get out of here and start celebrating. Still, I feel bad though.”
There was the flare of a match, a whoosh of gasoline and crackling twigs and for a moment much shivering as new clothes were donned. The sickly smell of burning balaclavas and damp clothes filled the night air.
“Right remember, not a sodding word to anyone “Burn your boots too. And no mobiles, no point going this far just to go and do something stupid. See you tomorrow; you know where.”
With that we split and went our separate ways, leaving only darkness and the smell of success and burning balaclavas.
 For the sake of sanity and safety I will refer to him only as my companion. I still live in fear that one day our actions will be discovered and we will indeed see the inside of prison bars.
I just finished reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and I simply cannot understand how one of the best films could’ve been made from one of the most draining books I’ve ever laid eyes upon.
There is an entire chapter deciated to talking about Whitney Houston, I shit you not. I want my life back; the time I spent over the past week and a bit on trains or lying in the shade reading, I could’ve been doing something useful like staring at the sun!
Still despite everything there are parts in it written in such a way that they refuse to leave my head. Damn.
Today I asked an old woman who works in Letchworth Library why they had a medium sized hut made from sticks out in the garden. ( I’ve never been into that library before) she replied tiredly that “It’s probably something to do with the museum out the back” I should hope so, and doesn’t she know? I worry that standards are dropping for our librarians.
How have I not noticed this before? Why have none of you told me knowing full well that I would want to sneak into it randomly in the dead of night? Explain yourselves.
I have no idea what I would do in there but I welcome suggestions.
I then had to cash in an extremely old ten pound note that I had picked up at summercamp in for one that was still legal tender. I wondered if it mattered that it had been used by people to snort drugs with the night before? Probably not. I have no idea how old it was and neither did the bank staff but they accepted it and agreed with my less than serious suggestion that it must be old because the queen still looked kind’ve hot in the picture.
God save the queen.
Later still at Daves he suggested listening to this noise programme thingum he’d downloaded, (I forget the name) he explained that it was liek an audible drug and that the frequencies involved have a real effect on you. So we moved the couch nearer the computer I got the headphone on, tied a scarf aroud my eyes as a blindfold and got comfy laying down. He started it playing and left.
At first all I got were feelings of intense discomfort as looped sine wave signals meshed together and apart, split into the left and right ear. I couldn’t keep my feet still and had to almost constantly shuffle on the couch to get relaxed I became acutely aware of my heartbeat, pulse and breathing. After a few minutes the frequency slowed and dropped in pitch and I began to feel comfortable and even enjoying the experience. I began picking out different parts of the noise, which had developed random percussive crackles. turning my head slowly to alter the sound I felt like I was beginning to sink into the couch and gain little flashes behind my vision.
I was beginning to think this way kind’ve fun even with the penetrating noise filling my ears when I noticed I was getting used to it. Another few minutes past (I think) in which I didn’t move a muscle.
Suddenly I began to either dream or halluciante images and ideas come and go. The strongest being a scenario where me and Dave are at the bottom of a brick well, sunlight can be seen at the top, each on opposite sides we do pull ups on bars overhead using the surrounding wall to balance ourselves, we must lift ourselves up and then stand on this thin bar and attempt to grab the one directly above it and do another pull up. – the workout it gruelling and progress slow, eventually after maybe 12 of these we reach the top just as above us a rocket is taking off and we are both burned in the exhaust flame. Strangely this scenario ias incredibly funny at the time.
I guess I must’ve been dreaming because Dave said he heard me breathing heavy, like snoring heavy but I don’t understand at what point I fell asleep or awoke because the noise was always there to me. The noises in my headphones began to slow down again in its endles repetitive cycles and I noticed that as it slowed my body lost a lot of tension and even informed me via comfort when I had reached the standard ‘quarter time’ speed I associate with dubstep and hip hop. Very odd but wonderfully indescribable. At several points I feel like I can hear a real song playing behind the music but as I concentrate on this it evaporates, sort of like one of those floating scratches you sometimes see in the corner of your eye. Suddenly I sense someone is in the room, with me and opening my eyes I find Dave standing over me, he is cracking up and has been playing music from the other computer to see if I react. I didn’t hear him come in and he informs me that I’ve been gone for coming up to an hour.
I decide instantly to try this again.
Later at Letchworth train station I overhear a stressed conversation, instantly I know that they are a couple and far from happy
“Hows it feel?” this is the man talking.
“Fuck off you cunt?”
“Hows it feel?”
“Fuck off you cunt?”
Repeated ten times or more along the entire length of the walkway, the woman walking fast to get away the man leering into her face, he doesn’t care if he’s hurting her, clearly too angry. There is no more than maybe 3 seconds of silence between each exchange, only the woman’s tone changes as she gets increasingly angry. then they are only screams of rage in the distance and I think to myself that the Spirella building would definitely be the best one to watch explode around here, I shock myself a little with this thought as it comes from nowhere.
I wonder if anyone will have a better suggestion for an exploding building? .
..and thats why i decide to write this.
The other day as I travelled on the tube to Camden to take part in a study on the effects of cannabis for the 3rd year psychology students at UCL I saw the female version of me.
I understand you may’ve just had to read that again and that you may make a link between the study and my randomness but I wasn’t stoned at the time. I am fairly serious about what I saw as It took me quite by shock at the time but standing in front of me was this girl my age, exactly my height, brown eyes and red hair which is peculiar in itself because I have never seen a girl with exactly the same colour hair as me until that day, similar yes but not exactly the same. She was wearing a plain black shirt as I was with a leather jacket in the same style and colour as mine (dark brown not black with gold zips,) similar trainers (which is just plain odd because I would wear much better shoes if I was a woman) and her denim skirt was the same colour and style of my own blue jeans and frayed around the bottom just the same and it wasn’t just the clothes but her facial features and her stance as well, whilst obviously her features very much more feminine than my own there were some serious traits going on between us.
We both had small sharp eyes and good high cheekbones a lack of freckles normally associated with our hair and skin tone and unless she was wearing silk underwear there really couldn’t be more similarities in the way we dressed. Now I know this could just be an extension of that horrible moment where you realise you’re wearing the same top as someone else at a party but this was more than that, this was an entire outfit and looking at her face I realised that she actually looked more like me than anyone in my entire family, more so than any of my cousins or my brother and I was stunned to say the least. I know I’m probably opening myself up to some serious piss taking even by writing this but I simply don’t care because this was too incredible not to share.
I know this all sounds like a series of lame coincidences which is what I thought it was at first but then after an astounding number of things had already grabbed my attention I noticed that she had mirrored my body language exactly as she had come onto the tube (which always makes me uncomfortable) and I could hear the drum and bass from my headphones phasing in and out with the spill from hers and realised she was listening to the same style of music as me and that she had a gleaming metal chain running along the right hand side of her skirt, I reached down instinctively and found that this was the one day in about a fortnight I hadn’t worn mine – damn this was getting a little weird. To have someone walk onto an empty tube and pick the space opposite you and to feel like you are looking into a mirrored world is just mind-blowing especially when she is already staring right at you by the time you notice her!
I started thinking about an episode of Red Dwarf where they travel to a parallel dimension where everything is the same except that their history and society has been dominated by women instead of men. Nellie Armstrong landing on the moon and the works by the famous English playwright Wilma Shakespeare. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was perhaps thinking of the same episode and if we would get on and have similar interests? would it turn out we liked exactly the same bands and films? Had the same dreams to travel California and Australia? Perhaps she could also quote every line of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and writes for music magazines in her spare time… Perhaps I can find her blog about when she saw the male version of herself on a tube towards Warren Street online somewhere? maybe that’s taking things a bit too far.
I wondered if we had been twins separated at birth which would explain why I look like no one in my own family? I wondered if it was vain of me to think that she was cute? I hope not because she was attractive in such an odd way and that’s the bit I find unsettling and its also glaringly obvious that if this was the case then I would clearly look better as a woman!
I wondered if I was on a reality TV programme about to be set up for something not quite hilarious? But dismissed this idea fairly quickly
I felt so bad then just as I do typing this now for not summoning up the testicular fortitude to talk to her but what would I’ve said? Something casual perhaps like “I like your jacket” subtly pointing out that it was almost exactly the same as my own and then moving on to the fact our hair was the same colour and we were listening to similar music. Should I’ve just pointed out the apparent coincidences and get a conversation flowing until I could mention the fact we were seemingly separated at birth? Perhaps not but it would’ve been a damn sight better than simply waltzing up to her and exclaiming “You look like the female version of me!” And in my moment of indecision about my method she was gone and as she turned right out of Warren Street station towards McDonalds she was lost again as suddenly as she’d been discovered. I wish I could’ve seen her walk into McDonalds or light a cigarette – anything that would’ve allowed me to think that she wasn’t really like me but she didn’t and my fascination kept its shining light
My umming and ahhing about whether she would take offence or be startled or not seems so pointless given the way she was also looking at me and smirking with the right side of her mouth as I do but I guess I’ll never know.
I’m not really one for morals but I think if this story had one it would simply be ‘carpe diem’ to seize the day and the moment because even if she had thought my realisation was the strangest thing ever (which I doubt, there are much stranger things on the London underground) then she would’ve been gone again in an instant and I wouldn’t of cared in fact I am far more haunted by the fact I didn’t say anything and missed an opportunity for a funny conversation than by anything she could’ve possibly said.
Perhaps she was thinking it too and was equal shy about mentioning it? Just like me.
I hope you enjoy these rants, I make no apologies or explanations for them and it is my simplest hope that by laying out the things that go through my mind day to day we can connect over them and find similarities and therefore a way to make each of our individual lives easier simply by knowing that whatever the world throws at us we do not go through it alone.
You know the times you spend just looking at people in the street or on trains and busses and wondering who they are?
I’m talking about the times you find yourself sat on the fountain in Stevenage town centre or the statue at picadilly or using the underground at King’s X and you look up at a stranger and find yourself wondering what their story is or where they are going? and how come they ended up crossing your path as they do now? You end up wondering about the millions of people around you and how they come to interact and who they are?
Everyone does this, it’s a healthy extension of our own wonderment and imagination, some people give it the moniker of ‘people watching’ and people do it differently, some watch people in a detective style trying to work out by their clothes and demeanour who they are and what they do, they use clues such the subject’s briefcase and choice of vocabulary or even the expense of their wristwatch to try and gauge what they do for a living or where they are from and they delight in the knowledge they can garner from even the smallest of clues.
But this is tediously boring and even slightly creepy in my humble opinion and whilst it is fascinating how much information you can gain about someone if you really look at them the real pleasure in people watching comes from making up stories and inventing the histories and missions of those strangers who cross your path. I’m guessing that there’s a few of you who read that last sentence who know exactly what I’m talking about.
Without exception everyone I have spoken to about this has fantasized, actually that’s too strong a word, has conjured up stories about a stranger in their imagination to while away the time and the most common themes tend to be about those strangers really being spies and secret assassins or other secret sections of society their humble briefcases containing much more than office stationary and a packed lunch, instead these mild mannered middle class commuters on public transport or passing you as you gaze out of the window of some bland eatery are actually carrying everything from unstable plutonium stolen to make nuclear missiles to silenced pistols and lethal poisons as they headed towards downing street.
If you have ever seen Ocean’s 13 where they steal the Faberge egg from a bland looking backpacker taking public transport whilst a convoy of impressive looking black cars distracts the attention of any would be thief then you will be able to understand that we never know what people have in their bags or who they really are or what they are doing. We can’t ever really know but it is a human tendency to wonder.
We all know why we people watch, even if you’ve never really thought about it – because its our imagination drifting out into our surroundings making them more interesting for a while. People watching and giving others stories takes the tedium out of everyday life helping to pass the time when we’re doing something mundane and are surrounded by others doing the same and its directly connected to our sense of wonder which we should never ever lose.
In fact I can’t help but wonder about the lives I have lead in other people’s imaginations without ever knowing it – I wonder what they saw in me and where I was going in their imaginations?
If you have any running themes that you tend to imagine when you people watch or anything you do when in these situations or thoughts on what I’ve written then please share them as its always good to know that even the odd little things we do we ALL do together. Da Hui