Kafkaworld's Blog

September 10, 2011

On ‘Hell Is Other People’.

I always thought Oscar Wilde said this.  It seems like the sort of thing he would say.  Then a man on the wireless informed me that Jean-Paul Sartre said it.  It seems the sort of thing he would say too, even more so as he was, I believe , an existentialist.  So nobody existed except him.  Which you would think to be rather lonely.  Unless he believed that remark about hell and other people.  I have now officially diverged from my theme too many times and am therefore inhabiting a paradigm in another dimension.  It’s quite nice here, nobody around except me.

Never mind, I’ll begin again.  I spent last weekend in Melbourne, a city which I consider to be my spiritual home – assuming I was rich and could afford to live in one of the ‘nice’ inner-city suburbs, handy to the tram line.  I’m such a pretentious yuppy.  Homeless in Melbourne in winter doesn’t appeal to me at all. (Damn.  Off topic again).  So there I was on the plane, in my precious cubic metre of personal space, when a young woman, shortly to prove even more pretentious and selfish than I, sat in the seat in front of me.  As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, she pushed her seat back to maximum recline, causing the book I was reading to hit me in the nose.  I wasn’t amused, but thought maybe she was unwell or tired, but no.  She ate and drank heartily, talked loudly, told jokes and sang along to her stupid iPod.  I retaliated as best I could by kicking the back of the seat, and I did attempt to borrow a crying baby from the lady over the aisle but she threatened to call security.  Obviously, Ms ‘I Am The Most Important Person In The World’  had no idea of the discomfort she was causing in the row behind her.

At the end of the flight, she gathered up her designer hand luggage and swanned off.  Fontmaster and I chose to wait as the elderly woman in the aisle seat required a wheelchair and she seemed so frail, we didn’t like to crawl over her.  I’m sure Ms IATMIPITW would have trampled her underfoot in a heartbeat as she raced back into her very important life.

Next, walking down Collins Street, keeping to the left, I was confronted by a line of four friends who loved each other so much that they couldn’t bear to leave each other’s sides, so they just swept down the footpath like a human bulldozer, forcing we lesser mortals onto the street where we had to explain ourselves to the oncoming traffic.  Not that this behaviour is not restricted to Melbourne.  You can enjoy it anywhere you go.  I felt like screaming into their stupid smug faces, “Hellooooo.  Is there anybody else on this footpath except you or are we figments of our own imaginations you fucking idiots“.  But I didn’t.  I’m so well brought up – apart from the constant swearing.

Deep breaths everyone, only two more to go, and they are my favorites.

The first one occurred in Little Collins Street where I was attempting to enter Kikki.K, a stationery shop where I like to browse.  Unfortunately for me, Mrs Very Well Dressed But Brainless had arrived before me and, fearing for the safety of her three children (also very trendily dressed and with much more expensive hair-cuts than mine), instructed them to sit in a an unbroken line across the doorway!  Nobody else could enter or leave until Mrs VWDBB had purchased her pencil and left the shop.  To be fair, the kiddies responded quite well to being kicked in the head (very gently of course), and shuffled up a bit to let me through.  Gosh we all laughed.

That night, we went to the State Theatre at the Arts Centre to see the divine Australian ballet.  Our seats are in the second front row, where I hope to breathe my last during a performance of any Graeme Murphy/Kenneth MacMillan ballet.  On one side of us were two women, on the other side, two girls aged about 9 and 11.  As we settled in, it became obvious that they were together as they kept leaning across and shouting to each other.  We offered to swap seats so they could sit together but they were happy to keep shouting.  It was then I noticed that the girls both had large backpacks, jackets and several supermarket bags full food.  Obviously there was a danger of them starving to death while watching the show. These were carefully placed in front of them so that people going to seats further in had to step over the mess.  The demographic of ballet audiences is quite old so that frail elderly people, some with walking sticks, had great difficulty getting past.  The girls were completely oblivious to anybody else’s comfort.  If I had come equipped with a walking stick, I might have walloped both them and there stupid mother, accidentally of course.  These things happen in small crowded spaces don’t they.


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