Saturday, 29 November 2014
Meanderers, ditherers & lurid ties
11 November 2014
Since I only have to be in London for an afternoon meeting, I treat myself to a later start. This turns out to be a bad move. Mid-morning trains, I discover, are far more stressful than rush-hour ones.
On an early train, bleary-eyed commuters sit checking their emails and falling asleep. The only sounds are a gentle tapping, some snoring and a bit of dribbling. Once the train reaches Paddington, the dribbling commuters snap to attention, clear the train in seconds and hurl themselves at the exit barriers like pinballs. What I’m saying is: they do not hang around. They know why they’re there, and they Get On With It.
But the mid-morning train is a magnet for meanderers and ditherers. These are people who think it is acceptable to spend five minutes deciding where to sit, another five deciding where to put their baggage, and a further five, at the carriage door, deciding whether to leave the train properly or not. It is not acceptable. Not even remotely. When you reach the carriage door, you go through it. And when you are through it, you get out of the way so that other people can also go through it. That’s how doors work. And while we are at it, the same thing applies when you reach the top of an escalator, because otherwise you will have an escalator-full of people up your backside. This is not rocket science. Concentrate, you stupid people! Stop talking and concentrate!
At 11 o’clock the train manager asks us to observe a two-minute silence in honour of the fallen. Hurrah! At last the Welsh ladies in the seats opposite, of whom there are about 150 at a guess, fall quiet. The meanderers sit still. The ditherers desist. And there is an exquisite, if brief, oasis of tranquillity. The Welsh ladies go purple with the effort to contain themselves.
My afternoon meeting, when I eventually get to it, is for the oral proceedings course. It is our final final planning meeting, and we are still working on our auxiliary requests for the mock hearings on Friday. It feels just like preparing for real oral proceedings.
One of the tutors is wearing an extremely lurid tie. He says he put it on specially for me, because I made comments earlier in the year about his two-and-a-half-piece Lycra® cycling suit, from which he infers a lack of sartorial expertise that only a barrister in a day-glo tie can rectify. Well I hope he doesn’t wear that tie in his day job: it would probably justify additional damages.