Apart from the ridiculously early start (who ever invented 9 AM?) I hugely enjoyed the second seminar as well, about making theatre. I've definitely made the right decision, coming here (at least on an academic level). The seminar ended at 11, so I had a day to kill. I did a lot of stuff I still had to do on the admin side on campus, before I decided to scour some bookshops in town and maybe buy a paper and have a coffee somewhere nice. In the end, I didn't even have a coffee. Just enjoyed the surroundings and saw some things. I thought about these, and a couple of them are written down here.
As a foreign exchange student, life can sometimes be a bit difficult. But I've got a secret weapon. If I want people to do things for me, I just use a slightly less professional form of English. It helps so much. If you don't mind feeling slightly patronised, it's a ball.
I saw a man in the street with a Sainsbury's Bag going 'ow' every fifth step. Why every fifth step? What could have hurt him so much on an odd number of steps? Why was it so painful that he had to make the facial movement of pain but not painful enough to entice him to make the appropriate pain-related noise? The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that he probably wasn't going 'ow' every fifth step, but 'f***' step, step, step, step, 'off', step, step, step, step, 'f***', (you get the general idea).
I saw this Fighting Fantasy Shop in Brighton advertising itself as: Adult Creche. Brilliant.
After this, I'd went in to Aldi. Yes, you may laugh, but one day, the Debt Fairy might come and take away your money too! I'm a student! I don't have the means to be middle-class! Now.
The first thing I saw, when I got in, was an old lady with bag, ensconced in the trolley-bit, one eye closed, asking me very politely to help her get to the busstop outside. Now, I wasn't prepared for this. I was listening to music, and I was a bit lost in my own head. She brought may straight back to earth. So I thought about this for a split second, until I obliged. But I was still a bit paranoid. The lady had caught me off-guard. Whatever could she want, apart from me helping her to the busstop? I went through my Not-Lose-Stuff ritual of Phone, Keys, Wallet, Bag (x3). I learnt that at 18, to stop losing stuff all the time, so I now check about every 3 seconds. I'm still horrible with losing stuff. Today, actually, I was frantically looking around for my keys, only realising after about 4 minutes that I had been holding the keys in my mouth. I know! It's hell to live with me. And that's me, saying that. I get so annoyed with myself!
Euhm, yeah. So I was there, frankly obsessed with getting either my wallet or my admittedly crappy bike stolen. What would that woman want from me? I only ever saw that stuff on Sesame Street, where smug animated children would lead grateful elderly ladies across animated American streets after which the old woman would bribe them with sweets and ruffle the smug child's hair after which the already smug child will feel even better about himself, bastard. But that's not the real world! The Real World isn't Sesame Street! Otherwise high streets shops would always be subject to Thunderstorms! And that's 2, 5 and 10, there you go Mrs. Harris, (Bwroom, Bwroom) HAHAHAHAHA. And Mrs. Harris would go: Why are you doing this, Mrs. Collins, why? And Mrs. Collins would go: it's company policy, Mrs. Harris. Because that would be the world we would live in. If Jim Henson ruled the world.
But no. Where was I. Oh, yeah. I was walking this lady to the bus stop and when I saw the jealous people also waiting for the bus I wondered why I was scared to do this. This was surely the most noble, most certifiably Good thing I could do today? What was I scared of? What could be the worst thing, that woman could do? Well (very factual), she could be a thief, trying to steal my crappy bike, my wallet and my foreign exchange student-card providing me with absolutely no discounts
whatsoever. She could steal my passport, my identity and deny me access to my dingy student house. (pause) She could touch me up in the middle of the street, with her old woman hands over my genitals, look at my terrified face with a horrid glint in her one good eye and, give me aids.
And I go, Yes, but why are you thinking those things? You horrible bastard? I don't know! This is my head! I don't want to think these horrible things, but I do! I'm sorry! But before I could counter that argument, the lady asked me to go a bit further along, right at the furthest away point of the bus stop. So for 4 more horrible seconds I was stuck in this limbo, this strange combination of valour, fear, and mild sexual arousal. But when she croaked: “yes, that's it. Thank you young man. Thank you, I suppose you...?” I had already gone. I had run to safety. I couldn't bear to have my hair ruffled in that way. I take care in my appearance and rather shop at Aldi than appear unruffled in there. I'm sorry. But that's just the way it is. And yes, that is the punchline to this story.
The only thing I can add is that when I went home, eventually, the sky had turned a glorious pink, red and purple. As I cycled onto the main road leading to my house, the sky was purple with such an intensity that the street around me was shaded in that colour and the pink-shaded people seemed to be walking in a sea of Cherryade. Quite beautiful. A bit like the Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds-bit in the odd (as in strange) Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine. Beautiful in a slightly magical way. Yeah... Or maybe I just hadn't drunk enough water that day.