Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas cheer, Christmas chunder

The Christmas crowd is out in force with all its nuances and faces.  Some of it is happy.  Some of it is stressed.  Much of it walks very, very slowly, in fat, wide lines that form an impenetrable  barrier.  And a lot of it is drunk.

As I made my way through the city this afternoon, I crossed the road and heard a man singing "It's now or never".  It wasn't recorded and it sounded pretty good.  I looked around to find the singer and saw a young guy standing right on the edge of the road, millimetres from the passing traffic, singing his heart out and searching the eyes of the nearby people to connect with his audience.  In his hand was a can of Jim Beam and he also was doing some moves to accompany his tune.  The showmanship was pretty good and he asked me if I wanted to go and sing karaoke with him.  His big sell was that he was the "best" - at karaoke, I assume.

I didn't have the chance to answer.  As he hit the line "It's now or never" he stepped fully into the traffic.  Cars slowed down as he dodged between them and finally took refuge on the island in between the lanes.  He played the clown, sneaking around like a naughty child who was trying to not be seen.

The love ballad took on a fatalistic, apocalyptic quality.  I really hoped the answer was "never" as I squinted and hunched in anticipation of what I was sure I was about to witness.

He made it to the other side and went on his merry way, bringing impromptu music to the shoppers.

In contrast was the train ride home last night after I'd been to a Christmas party.  The smell of stale alcohol was heavy in the carriage as I opened the door.  People were quiet.  It had been a hot couple of days and it was just starting to cool down.  I heard the sound of a large volume of liquid hitting a hard surface somewhere behind me.  No other sound.  I looked around and saw a number of people silently get up and move quickly to another part of the carriage.  Nearby was a man bent double looking at the people around him.  He had vomited.  Right there on the train surrounded by people.

I turned back disgusted and tried not to think about it.  I'm a sympathy vomiter - the mere thought is enough to make me gag.  I had to focus somewhere else.

When I arrived home I felt bad for the man.  I had judged that he was drunk, but I didn't know for sure.  Perhaps he was really ill and needed help.  No one gave it to him.  The next time I looked around, he wasn't on the train any more.  What if I had taken ill on a train during Christmas season?  Would the few beers I'd had at the party I'd been to mean that I too would be abandoned with a sneer of disgust?

I wonder if my initial reflex was correct?  I wanted to yell "It's public transport, not a public toilet."   I said nothing.  I was too busy focussing on the gag I was trying to suppress for the next three stops.

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