The Kindness of Strangers

Moments if human kindness are a rarity in London on a weekend. They can often be shocking and should sometimes come with a warning of sorts, just incase it evokes emotions that people aren’t ready to deal with. On a Saturday in Leicester Square the general scummy punters that peruse the area are usually only ready for being munted, being really munted, being super munted and having a fight, or being so munted they can’t stop falling over. Anything past those few possibilities and it can often stump them, their minds unable to discern what might actually be reality outside of their horrid insular eurobeat, expensive drink buying minds. I don’t mean to insult everyone in the vicinity of Central London on a Saturday night, but due to the late starting time of Just The Tonic last night, I witnessed a special breed of chump as I strolled to the venue at 9.30pm. There were men wearing shirts unbuttoned to their stomachs trying to give flyers to girls for clubs they could get into free. The naive girls were swooning over the men, and falling for the clubbing trap, being too naive to know that when they step inside that club they will be the only females in there surrounded by sweaty, pervy, old men. There were groups of chavvy lads and girls all shouting at each other, clearly excited that they have left the home counties for the evening and being so bewildered by the lights and other civilisation that they act even more moronic than usual. Then there was the Party Bus. I will let the name sink in for a minute and then leave it to your own imagination to conjure up the exact horror of such a creation. All I will say is took everything in my soul to not decide that humanity had failed there and then. I spent the rest of the walk thinking of the Red Cross and other life saving establishments just to convince myself there is a point to us existing.

After the show I raced at light speed back to the tube to try and get the last train. I left so quickly that I forgot my cheque which was a major schoolboy error. I don’t want to appear shallow, but I am, and I wouldn’t be out on a Saturday night if it wasn’t for the money aspect of doing my job. As I have stated, I don’t like Saturday people. Just The Tonic was actually a lovely gig with a nicer crowd than most, with the exception of some lads from Birmingham who did what I like to call ‘Heckle and Run’. They would shout things then when confronted with them, they would shut up. I don’t like this. Either stick with your convictions or shut up. I insulted Birmingham about four times and then ignored them. The rest of the crowd were a bit sleepy but intelligent and nice, and the sets from Reginald D Hunter, Pippa Evans and Pete Firman were all grand. Richard Herring popped in from his show next door, and had a drink and said hello. It was a nice night. But this did not stop me feeling like a massive cock for leaving my pay at the gig. This little bubble of realisation only hit me as I jumped onto the Piccadilly Line tube and the doors started to close. I almost started to re-enact the scene from the Graduate but in a far less dramatic way, and bang on the tube doors, but then I noticed the man opposite me who was being violently sick into a plastic bag. He was an odd looking man in that he looked like he wanted to like metal but couldn’t quite bring himself to it. He had big black boots, black jeans, a big belt with a skull buckle and a metal t-shirt. But this was all counteracted by his rather nice watch and short hair. To be fair I don’t think anyone else was judging his vanilla music loyalties as he was being violently sick into a plastic bag. After noticing it wasn’t a bag for life and thinking how lucky it was no one needs to use it again, I realised the bag was being held by a small oriental woman who was sitting opposite him. She then fished around in her bag for some tissues and offered them over to him. I assumed these two were not together. For several logical reasons including the fact that he was a big wannabe goth and she was a tiny oriental lady, that he was horribly drunk, and she was sober and carrying her shopping home and that even though she was helping him I don’t think he had any idea who she was or where he was.

This meant that what the little woman was doing was an act of human kindness. It took a minute for me to comprehend that something like that could happen on the London Underground, a usual hive of selfishness and ignorance. There is almost an unwritten rule that states if something bad, unusual or interesting is happening, close yourself off from it completely, put your headphones on and it will go away eventually. What this woman was doing was confusing a lot of people on the carriage. Several of them looked on not sure whether to be disgusted at the puke or happy at the lady’s helpfulness. A group of lads, totally baffled by the notion of anyone helping anyone, just pointed at half-metal and told him how shit faced he was. I think that was the closest they could get to being useful, but it was evidently clear that everyone knew he was pretty shitfaced. I was wondering if they would spend the rest of the journey just pointing out obvious things like that irritating kid from the 90’s adverts about Milton Keynes, as this was all their intellect might allow. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was very happily listening to the new Graham Coxon album, whilst playing the Sims on my phone. I had just irritated three virtual people by making Randolph knock on their doors at 3am and then wet himself. I didn’t want to leave the game at such a crucial moment but I felt sad that this woman was being the only helpful person on the carriage. So I paused my game, took my headphones out and offered half-metal the fresh bottle of water I had in my bag. The lads suddenly became silent and the rest of the passengers went really quiet. Two people who didn’t know each other, were helping a man they also didn’t know who was being embarrassingly sick in a public place. It was almost fiction. Some of them had to check we weren’t filming a Richard Curtis film, then they realised that we weren’t saying anything disgustingly cliched and there was no sign of Hugh Grant falling over his own curtains and so had to assume it was real again. Half-metal took my water with thanks and wolfed half of it down. He also looked confused at having been helped by anyone, and said thanks to me and the lady quite a lot. The tube pulled into Holborn and he got up to go, accidentally putting his hand into the bag of sick. His suddenly now sober expression spelt out exactly how stupid and disgusted he felt at that moment. Rather than take his hand out covered in sick, he made the decision just to leave it in there as he probably couldn’t make himself feel any worse than he already did. He said goodbye and stumbled off, leaving me and the oriental woman to exchange a smile and a knowing glance. The glance expressed that we both knew we had been a bit nice and I then put my headphones back on, and returned to the Sims, making Randolph kick over some people’s bins.

I think that now means I have some bonus karma points. I’m not sure how the system works and I definitely only gave the man my water out of kindness, but if there is some sort of Nectar type system I’ll be quite pleased. Perhaps I can now have £10 off my shopping or get some airmiles or something. At the very least I’d better get paid for my gig. Otherwise I can only assume it means I can be a proper arsehole for some of the week and expect no backlash. I might go around kicking people’s bins over for real and then when I’m out driving, I could cut other cars up quite badly then beep my horn like its their fault. The oriental woman must have a lot of karma points for providing the bag. I almost wondered if she did it to justify something really bad she’s done. Technically after something like that she could go out and kill a tramp and it’d be allowed. Or maybe, she’s just a nice person.

I’m going to Cardiff today. Some of you might say that that is proof karma doesn’t work.

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