What is Britishness?
So I sit here on the Trans Pennine Express; first stop Huddersfield, final stop Newcastle. I have experienced Britishness in all its shapes and forms on my short journey to the train station this morning. But before I digress let me first tell you of my cup of tea and bottle of water that has cost me £2.30; boiling water, tea bag, carton of artificial dairy juice and half a pint of water in a designer bottle. £2.30! That for me is Britishness; fucking expensive, but Britishness none the less.
For the remainder of the writing I shall refer to Britishness as B.
Yesterday I went to the train station and bought my train ticket to Newcastle; £52.20 not of my money but of the company I work for , they want me to go to the Baltic Gallery and take a look at the British Art Show 6 which we will be hosting part of in a couple of months time.
I am to look at the exhibition and set up ‘from a security perspective’. I am armed with only a digital camera and my wits.
The last time I was in Newcastle I was arrested and cautioned for urinating on a police station, I hope they don’t recognise me. I have grown a beard since the incident and I have just realised what a shrude article of clothing I chose to wear this morning ‘my black and white jumper’, I should blend in like a sniper on a hill. I will not speak, so I will not give away my accent and I shall not make the same mistake again of mixing Benolyn & Vodka! I am strictly a Tunes and Whiskey man now.
So after I awoke this morning and subconsciously disguised myself as a Geordie and left my cold mid-terraced Victorian house; walking to the bus stop still half asleep because of the constant screaming of our next door neighbour (the mrs)…
“You’ve never been the same since your fucking mother died!”
and my favourite
“I can’t believe you’ve broke my fucking telly! The fucking red light won’t even come on! If I’ve got to listen to the fucking radio anymore I’ll commit suicide, you fucking cunt!”
Please listen to the fucking radio. I scream through the wall.
On the bus I managed to find a seat on a predominantly sardine packed vehicle. The seat was at the front of the bus just behind the driver, the one that faces the back of the drivers head normally reserved for the elderly and the disabled. I took a quick look around and saw nobody fitting either description, so I sat. The eerie thing about sitting behind the driver’s seat is that you can see not only yourself, but everyone else on the bus in the reflection in the glass.
So as we hit each stop on our route into Manchester, the bus gradually filled up to bursting point, I imagined us all soaked in cheap tomato sauce and tinned.
With buses, trains and particularly the tube you lose your comfort zone, and with being British so follows cold sweats, avoiding eye contact, uncomfortable silence, depression, suicide and death. I had the luxury of a seat at least so my comfort zone was moderately intact apart from a young lady whom must have thought that with only four days to go until Christmas, I was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit. She was so close at one point that I was certain she would sit on my lap and tell me what she wanted for Christmas. I hate being so close to someone that you can taste their perfume instead of smelling it!
So four stops before the city centre, an elderly lady with a walking stick boarded the bus, I read the sign placed next to the driver and she fits both descriptions; ‘Elderly’ and I guess slightly ‘Disabled’ because of the walking stick. Here’s my chance for my good will gesture before the year ends, just to prove to my wife that I am not a self-centred prick (B). I sit there waiting to make eye contact and then move and give her my seat; she blanks me and stands at the front of the bus next to the driver, just out of reach of my voice. There I hover half an inch off my seat, my good will draining from as every second passes, I look intently at the back of the old bag’s head scarf (which I presume contains a blue rinse and rollers (B)), trying some voodoo mind trick so she will acknowledge me and I can finish what I started.
As my action man stare is weakening, I notice that the young lady who believes I am Father Christmas is staring at me thinking that I am going to jump off the bus and steal this old girls pension (B). I panic! (B) I turn my head so quickly that my hover mode becomes unstable, like a duck landing on an icy pond, and I fall against the young lady. Only for a moment, but we touch. I decide to ignore the situation completely (B). and although I am now the colour of a glazed cherry I still chose to ignore it (B). and although I can see the rest of the passenger’s reflections in the window, looking at me I still chose to ignore it (B).
This story is embarrassing, I do not wish to continue (B).
The End (B)