Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Soured Case

The days and nights have begun to run into each other, a continuous week-long loop, which nothing seems to relieve.
My internal mood: grouchy, which I occasionally allow to break through to the surface, particularly during my alone moments, though it also occurs to a lesser degree when outside surrounded by seemingly busier people.
Who are these busy people? Those giving the distinct impression they are leading important, time-poor, possibly more fulfilling lives with partners, children, ageing parents, colleagues, pets etcetera, depending on them and so everything has to be done at a pace that is just short of breath, just short of running.
But there are those, two or possibly three generations above me, who find this bustling presence of others, huffing and puffing, annoying. True, they can irritate too with their dithering and aisle blocking, which makes puffers lose their patience and shove their way to wherever they want to get to with no 'Excuse me' or any sort of rushed apology for they just don't have the breath, the time, or the patience, so that those purpose-driven to go out to break up their day are driven indoors to escape these hordes to listen instead to the tick-tick of their living room clock.
Each group will stop, somewhat, sometime after the clock has struck noon. The lunch routine, whatever that is, kicking in, as if indeed something has prodded their bellies into action, then followed by those afternoon hours that usually lag until dinner. All in that interim feel sleepy, regardless of where they might be sitting; some starve it off with caffeine or sugar, others let it gradually take them. A few hours lost is neither here or there, and those that can be lost might as well be pleasantly spent.
The caffeine and sugar-fuelled tap keys, try to focus on the screen that blinks before them as if willing them to surrender. Their working pace a little slowed now the morning rush is over and lunch has come and gone. Yet whilst on this downward slope to the home bell, the one that chimes in everyone's head as they near the point of their departure, their flagging energies suddenly revive. Two hours left. One hour left. Half an hour. Fifteen minutes. The brain circuitry lights up, activity surges in coordinated strategies from the head to the mouth and fingers. Phone calls and e-mails are rapidly fired off, the machine the intermediary in this system of work-in, work-out. Desks tidied, programs shut down, bags packed, coats gathered. A last minute check for keys, Oyster cards and travel tickets, then a quick walk to the car or a jog to the station.
Homeward-bound. Squashed with others on a bus, tube or train, MOVE DOWN, MOVE DOWN, as more push on, force the doors just as they close, or dispiritedly chase after the bus as it pulls away from the kerb and then mutter obscenities as they trudge back to the shelter. Motorists, bumper to bumper, enviously note each cyclist that whizzes by and curses them, as if they were sticking pins in dolls, and then tries to edge ahead or change lanes in the false notion that it will get them to their destination faster, which might not be home but the gym.
The gym where again they will run, only stationary, or step up a hill, or attempt to ski a couple of inches above a carpeted floor. Maybe they'll swim where at least real water's involved, or take part in a sweat-inducing or stretching class where the mind has to engage somewhat so as to scrutinise the placement of the instructor's arms and feet or pedal furiously to the frenzied beats, before towelling the equipment and/or themselves, showering and finally freeing the pangs of hunger they held at bay.
Once home, these divergent groups again conjoin, though one is heading towards bed, rather than dinner, microwave or take-out, in front of another, possibly larger, flickering screen. The same nightly routine, but one set slightly in front and one behind, still on differing time. Each wanting the fast or slow rhythm the other has got, yet one will pretend they don't want to be young again and the other won't admit they want to be old.

Picture credit: Sour Grapes, 1910, William Heath Robinson