06 September, 2006

'Arms way

I was thumped in the stomach today on two non-consecutive occasions.

London seems to boast an inordinate number of pedestrians who choose to go about their business swinging their arms in an acutely unselfconscious manner. These people are particularly prevalent in areas of concentrated crowds, where their affectation takes on, in inverse relation to their immediate surroundings, even more of a violent trajectory. Consequently it's pretty lethal trying to make your way along the pavement, as I discovered today. Twice.

I've never come across such behaviour before. It's like being back in primary school music and movement classes, where everyone would be cajoled into finding "a space" and, to the sound of a hopelessly out-of-tune piano accompaniment, swing their limbs around in a vague approximation of a tree being caught in a thunderstorm.

Only these people are adults. And, in theory, somewhat more reserved and appreciative of their environment. One of my assailants was parading around swinging her right arm out behind her almost a full 90 degrees, while leaving her left arm near-motionless. After making contact with my stomach, she didn't apologise (naturally - nobody does in London), choosing instead to simply carry on with her demented limb-flapping somewhere else.

The other person was walking towards me leaving enough room, or so I thought, to pass cleanly by without collision. Oh no. As he neared I could see his arm was swinging in a quite preposterous fashion all over the bloody place, and inevitably I was thumped without remorse or pity.

It's the little things that can push you that bit nearer the edge and set the seal on an otherwise indifferently tough day. It's the little things that stick more in your mind when the evening comes and you're reflecting on the previous 12 hours and which end up overshadowing any number of more significant and portentous issues.

And it's the little things which invariably contrive to hit you where it hurts as opposed to the big things which just fester away inside and whose damage only become clear ten years down the line.


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