Friday, 21 December 2012

Cruisin' for a bruisin'

Today I have ridden my bicycle. Yesterday I ran with my legs. Nothing too energetic in either case as I've still got a rattly chest, but 6 hilly miles today and 32 fairly flat ones today is ok. And heck is it wet out there - we've avoided the worst of the rain so far this winter, but our luck seems to be running out. On at least three occasions today on minor roads my bottom bracket was skimming the top of the flood. With another very wet day forecast tomorrow I can't imagine what it'll be like on Sunday - but I'm planning to go and have a look. Tomorrow will be a running day I suspect.

Anyhow, to today's subject; I've started doing something potentially more dangerous than descending a Pyrenean pass at 75kmh in the rain - getting involved in public situations. Not walking on by. As a kid I wanted to be a policeman, and the urge to intervene when intervention is necessary is still there it seems. In recent times I've suppressed it out of a sense of self-preservation, and I suspect there are plenty of times I would and will still suppress it - in London, with obvious psychos and so on. However, there are other times when it feel like the right thing to do. Edmund Burke's quotation that "when good men do nothing, evil triumphs" has become over-used and a bit of a cliche, but it's no less true for that. And frankly, if a reasonably self-confident but not threatening middle-aged bloke can't intervene, who can?

So far there have been two incidents. The second was a little earlier today when I witnessed one of a group of kids (probably 12-13 years old) throw an empty can of pop into the hedge as I got back from my ride. I didn't actually see who did it, so I asked the group who it was. To my utter astonishment one of them put his hand up. I - quite calmly - asked him first why he thought he had the right to litter my neighbourhood (he said he didn't), and why didn't he take the can home with him to bin. He said it was too far (it was a mile). I said it wasn't and he should pick up the can and take it with him. Again to my astonishment he did. If only they were all so easy. However, there was no shouting or swearing on my part, and I don't think I humiliated him in front of his mates. I possibly also looked like I wasn't going to be messed with in my bandana and mirrored shades. Stop laughing, a chap can fantasise....

The first incident was on the train home from London last week. For a change the client wasn't paying so I was in Standard class. (I know, I know, the sacrifices...). I was also in the quiet coach. And as per normal there was someone with a too-loud ipod (instead of the normal phonecall-maker or taker), just in front of me. She was pretending to be asleep, so I tapped her on the arm and asked her to turn it down. She did. And duly emboldened, two other passengers in different parts of the coach then asked their fellow travellers over the next half hour to, in one case, do the same, and in the other, to leave the carriage if they wanted to carry on their phone conversation. And both of the requestees also did as asked with no dramas. Considerate people of the world, fight back!

My two targets so far have been a woman in her 30s and a kid of 13; it'll be interesting to see when I come up against a harder target. If it goes badly then it's been a pleasure to write for you dear reader. If not, then there'll probably be more of this drivel at the start of 2013. In the meantime, a very Happy Christmas to all my loyal displacement-activity seekers.

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