Murder on the Jubilee Line

A week ago I witnessed an incident on the London underground; the southbound jubilee line to be precise. Commuting in London can be terrible at the best of times, but everyone will testify that the morning rush hour is especially hellish.  It is packed tighter than a sardine can and the slightest cough-or God forbid-sneeze could take down at least a hundred people.

Still the trips are uneventful-horrendous but uneventful; nothing to write a blogpost about. Until about a week ago when I witnessed the type of theatrics I usually only see on youtube.

Curtain opens.

The tube stops at Canada Water. As usual there is an orderly line of people waiting to get in. A young lady cuts the queue and hops on to the consternation of the woman who was in the line.

Cast
Young lady who hops on the train-Hereafter referred to as BW (Black Woman)
Miffed off woman standing in the line-Hereafter referred to as WW (White Woman)

WW: *soft whiny voice* Excuse me please, there is a queue. You can’t just cut the queue.
Me: *in my mind* Just squeeze yourself in and don’t make a big deal out of this.
BW: Silence.

*Five  Mississippis later*
BW: WHY ARE YOU FOOOKING TALKING TO ME? 
Me: *In my mind* alright sis just leave it alone there’s no need for all this.
BW: DO YOU WANT ME TO RAISE MY VOICE? WHY THE FOOK ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? ARE YOU GOING TO KICK ME OFF OR DO YOU WANT ME TO PUSH YOU OFF? WHO PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF THE LINE? ARE YOU PAID TO MAINTAIN THE QUEUE YOU DUMB BITCH?

Random people on the tube: *whimpering* Hey that’s not necessary.

Me: *Looks around for the exits.* Oh God I hope nothing happens. There is no place to run.

BW: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN’S LIFE THAT SHE IS WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN? WHY IS THIS WOMAN’S LIFE SO DULL THAT SHE’S TALKING TO ME ABOUT A TRAIN?

Me: How long before she mentions White Privilege?

BW: …WITH YOUR FUCKING WHITE PRIVILEGE YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN?
Me: Bingo!
BW: YOU HAVE EVERYTHING AND YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN YOU STUPID ASS BITCH!
WW: Silence. Weak embarrassed smile.
BW: Silence.
Me: God get me to my destination safely.

*Two Mississippis later*
BW: STUPID ASS WHITE PRIVILEGE BITCH WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN
Me: *in my mind* Let it go you psycho!
Random people: Hey stop it…unnecessary…c’mon now
BW: ANYONE WHO TALKS TO ME IS GOING TO (get it? be yelled at? Feel my wrath? Cannot remember exact words)

Voice in the tube: This station is Canary Wharf. Change here for the…
Me: Praise Jeeeessuuuuus! *hops off and sprints away*

Curtains close.

The incident occupied my thoughts for the rest of the day and even now I still think about it from time to time. This may not be a memorable incident to some-just another day in the jungle of civilised society. To some, this may be positively banal: “You call that a incident? Why I once saw  a woman fight five men, bite off a cat’s head and give birth to her own grandchild on the Bakerloo line from Baker Street to Edgeware road.”

This is surely not the worst thing to happen on public transportation, but as a lifelong scaredy cat and avoider of confrontation this shook me up. Prior to this incident I had seen videos of people being verbally attacked on public transportation-usually a racist piece of shit telling someone else to go back to their country. When these videos are posted, people often ask why none of the witnesses did anything:
“Oh look at all of them sitting down and allowing this to go on”
“Even the few people who spoke up are still complicit because they did not do anything to stop it.” blah blah blabity blah.

I have never been one of those people sprouting these lines. I have always known in my heart that if I was to ever be in a situation like that, I would not be able to do anything. I knew even then that I would be one of the cowards who say nothing; one of the people who sit still and wait for the whole thing to pass quickly. Whenever I watched those videos I wondered what I would do if I was the one being attacked. Again I knew-as I have known for years-that I would not have the courage to defend myself. I would most likely stand there humiliated, attempting to mask the awkwardness with a week feeble smile like the WW. Maybe that’s why I could not get this incident out of my mind.

I wonder if I should have said anything, but what help would that have served? Surely a person who can snap at a stranger like that would not hesitate to let me have it. It is unlikely that my objections would have made her stop her attack: “You know what sis? I was going to berate this bitch for another 5 minutes but hearing your feeble voice has made me change my mind.” 

Excuses excuses. I’m not even going to deceive myself by saying I would have intervened if it was a more serious incident.

A friend of mine-much smaller than me- once saw a group of men sexually assaulting a drunk woman and managed to run the men off and get them arrested. My first reaction would probably be to find a safe place to hide and call the police from, or find other people and point them in the direction of the crime. I know if she had been on the tube, she would have said something.

It is a terrible thing to be weak and afraid.

 

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LOVE

It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  

For a long time I wondered if this saying was true. I have basically lived my life along the lines of it’s better not to get hurt and if you don’t get attached it won’t hurt to let go that this saying seemed almost like bollocks to me. Why would I want to feel something so deep and intimate only to lose it and have an eternal void where it once was? I thought I would rather not love at all than to love and lose it.

A couple of years ago, I came across this beautiful love letter written by renowned physicist Richard Feynman to his wife who had been dead for 16 months. When I first read the letter, I thought it was lovely and heartfelt but I was in a rush to devour all the other letters that I soon forgot about it.

Today I came across the letter again, this time accompanied by background information about Richard and his wife Arline. A letter which was already so touching became so much more. Long story short, Richard and Arline fell in love in High school and were engaged by his junior year. Shortly after, Arline was struck with terminal tuberculosis and in the face of this grim diagnosis, Richard remained ever devoted and in love, and they got married despite her frail health.

The one thing that kept popping into my head as I read this was:  It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  It is so surreal to me how their love was able to supercede and transcend all physical obstacles-It was over two years into their marriage before they were able to have sex for the first time- and even the ultimate obstacle; death. Richard did not marry Arline out of pity or obligation; or because of how she looked or because of what she did for him. He loved her and she loved him and so they stayed together in love and weathered the terminal storms together.

And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.

Losing a love like this must be unbearable. The memory of what you have lost will stab your heart relentlessly and tear you apart but the memories of how much you loved and how much you were loved in return will also keep you warm and cozy.

I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me.

The letter was sealed and only opened after his death over 30 years later. I am ever wary of the ethics of publicising people’s personal letters without their express consent, but I am grateful to have read this letter. I am still not wholly convinced about the saying, but I understand it a little bit more. Love in its purest form- deep affection, and concern for the happiness and wellbeing of another-is so necessary. In trying to avoid the bad, we miss out on the good and perhaps that’s not worth it. Feynman must have been devastated by her death, but I assume he would not have traded those memories and experiences for anything.

Oh what is sweeter than to love and to be loved in return? I end this post with the beginning of the letter.

I adore you, sweetheart.

I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.

The fire that burns your skin

Narcos is one of the best shows out there and Netflix deserves a spot in teleheaven for giving it to us. Every thing about it is on point- the action, the visuals, the script, the beautiful people. It is also quite educational; thanks to Narcos I can now say “You are all dead, motherfuckers” in Spanish which is useful if my room ever again gets invaded by fruit flies.

My Spanish proficiency does not stop there as I can speak of hijos, hijas, mi primos y primas and ask mi hermanos y hermanas “que pas?” In the future I can command mi’jos y mi’has to reply “Si patron” when addressing me, and dare them to ask “Porque?”  When my food is delivered I can stare at my pizza and chicken wings fondly and whisper:  “Te quiero mucho mi amor” and yell “Mierda!” when I realise one chicken wing is missing. When I run into my arch nemesis (I’d have to get one first) I can go up to this muchacho o muchacha and say passados, passados before tying each end of the hijo puta’s body to a motorcycle and then….

We cannot speak about Narcos without giving credit to the theme song. Usually I do not have the patience for opening credits and I often just fast forward, but not Narcos. Oh the joy in my heart when season 3 was finally released and I heard the song again. The drum (or whatever instrument that is) signalling the start and the 15 seconds or so of gorgeous latin instrumental before the singing begins. Beautiful.

Of course I went looking for the song and found out it is called Tuyo and is sung by Rodrigo Amarante.

I came across a translation in the youtube comment section and I was struck by how beautiful the words are. I have come across other translations online but it still my favourite:

I am the fire that burns your skin
I am the water that kills your thirst
Of the castle, I am the tower
The sword that guards the treasure
You, the air that I breathe
And the light of the moon on the sea
The throat that I long to wet
But I’m afraid I’ll drown in love
And which desires will you give me?
Just to look is treasure enough
It will be yours, it will be yours

Spanish is such a beautiful language and when translated into English sounds very poetic and ethereal; just like the English accent of native Spanish speakers. I was quite surprised to find out that Rodrigo Amarante is a 41 year old Brazilian man, as I thought for sure the song was an old one and that the singer was surely deceased. The last time I was this surprised was when I found out that not only is Michael Bublé still alive, he is also quite young. What is it about beautiful music that makes me think it must have been sung ages ago by a now deceased person?

I eagerly await Narcos season 4 to make acquaintance with the Juarez cartel and I hope God spares my soul to see whatever season it is that will profile Griselda Blanco.

Viva la Narcos! (The show not the exotic pharmacists)

So fucking what?

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.‘ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

Stephen Fry

Society of the perpetually outraged

Social media has become a hellhole. A watering hole for the society of the perpetually outraged. A nirvana for people so immensely talented in the art of extracting offense from the highest praise. Heaven for those who jump out of bed in the morning with the sole aim of reaching their outrage quota; those who live by the motto “take offense first and understand later

The citizens of the society of the eternally offended have become mindless zombies, fueled by their righteous anger and nourished by think-pieces and thirty-tweet threads. There is no original thought in this new society; its citizens peek out of their covens to gauge the general consensus and then furiously type out dissertations that reiterate these opinions. They must be careful not to stray too far from what everyone believes lest they find themselves cancelled with a t and an exclamation mark. These worker bees buzz around the web, tirelessly sifting out the asleep and the slightly dozing off, burrowing deep in search for employment information with which to punish these errant deviants.

The citizens of the society of the perpetually offended are so voracious and dedicated that they will consume their own from time to time. They patiently lie in wait for anyone-even a fellow citizen- to forget to cross their Ts and they pounce. An erstwhile prominent offence taker and outrage expresser is cut down mercilessly by fellow citizens who admit they always knew this person was problematic all along. The bottle is spun again and it is the turn for another offense taker who was just taking offense at a fellow offense taker to be put down. Slowly, everyone is torched, but they bounce back quick. They have to, a spot in this society is never open for too long before someone runs in and fills it with their own fifteen dollars and seventy five cents words.

They steamroll their way through the interwebs, flattening every and anything in their wake. If Jesus descended today from the heavens to heal the world in a chariot of fire surrounded by a million angels, he would be cancelled with a t and an exclamation mark for reasons that will be outlined in no less than one thousand tablets filled with words make sense to the members of this society and no one else. Then another faction of this society will creep up to cancel these people for cancelling Jesus and will in no less than two thousands tablets outline the reasons why the cancellation of Jesus is really the real problem. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Stones (PETS) will then unleash an incoherent rant asking why we write on stones and not on babies; why do we breastfeed our babies but leave the stones to fend for themselves?

The slogan of this society is See the offense you want to see in the world. Offense can be drawn from every single thing-cotton candy, a baby’s laughter, a drop of rain- and if you do not agree with this then you are the reason for world hunger and global warming and you are cancelled with a t and an exclamation mark.