Free 'health' check for my car today through the RAC, jolly nice of them, thought I. Dropped my car off at the garage and then took the train into the 'Boro. Don't know why I don't take the train more often, only £5.40 return, no parking fee to pay, I could run to the train station and back after work, save petrol, mileage, general wear and tear on the old girl, all round winner, winner, chicken dinner, plus I'd be maintaining my 'fitness' as an added bonus . Better still you get to people watch. Don't you just love a good scan of society. As time has passed I've moved from judging (admittedly I did do that) to just observing (hopefully less of a hypocrite now). Although perhaps my recollections will still seem to judge the people I've watched. It was just a 20 minute train journey, what would you have thought?
I like making eye contact with people, just to smile, sometimes if I'm feeling bullish, I might even nod, or with the wind in the right direction too, I might summon up the courage to say hello. Maybe it's my age but I must admit that I enjoy chatting to parents about their children; usually when I'm spotted by offspring they always seem mesmerised by the odd looking fellow, I can do a mean Mr Bean impression. Smiling and pulling faces with children is, for me, quite uplifting, a natural happiness transaction; they look at me, I pull a face, they giggle, I grin and so it continues. The laughter and smiles of young children bottled, would be priceless.
On to the people heads down, tapping away on mobiles or laptops, earphones in, seemingly full of importance, and they are to someone, somewhere in the world. I just wonder what are they doing? Sometimes you get to hear the chatter of friends talking about the latest gossip down their street. You have to be careful not to be noticed here, nothing worse than an eavesdropper, is there?
Surveying the railway carriage, I can't help but notice our seeming pre-occupation with appearance. I'm all for looking smart, dressing in the latest style, although to look at me you wouldn't think so. Just happy now I don't feel judged, flinging on a pair of chinos with trainers (urgh), running around in mismatched sports kit (yuk), sometimes I think I'd even be happy to go out in my jammies (no!). Once in a while I do like to look smart though, even if it is making a bit more of a perfunctory effort for work. Admittedly I don't get out much. So after that digression, I'll get back to my point; our seeming pre-occupation with personal appearance. One of the characters I noticed on the train was a late teens, early 20s woman. No, not like that! More like an immediate why? My mind immediately wandered to thoughts of Charlie and the Chocolate factory. This young individual, who I'll call Violet, was self tanned to a level of tangerine she might probably have tasted orangey. Self tan, huh? How did I know, the ankle sock line and watch strap sort of gave it away. Underneath it all, she was aesthetically pretty, so what was even more concerning was the turkey- plucked eyebrows, substitued with thick, black eyebrow crayon marks, evidently drawn on by a younger sibling age five, maybe six as I guess at a push they could have been considered symmetrical. This individual had not completed her ensemble yet. What seemed necessary was the duck bill, trout pout, dinghy lips. Who injected this poor lass with 50psi? This surely has to be a step too far? I mean why? Why are we doing this to ourselves? To a degree, I get it for older people who are clinging on to their youth, but even then surely it's better to embrace the stripes that you have earned through time, age and experience? Perhaps it is just me? For a moment let's just say this person was 17, why I ask myself has she gained almost a half sleeve of tattoos? Is no-one looking out for this person's welfare, why is she (but this observation could be applied to a young male too, as I know lads of 16 with tattoos) so concerned with the colour, shade and perhaps even shape of her own skin that she has gone to relatively expensive lengths to change it? Then again I think of Violet, maybe someone is looking out for her but she's decided herself to do what she's done any way. I hope she's happy, I pray the changes she has made and is making to herself, helping her to achieve some level of happy. Perhaps I can utter those lines now I'm well into my 40s, 'the youth of today'?
Almost forgot, about five seats back, would you believe, dressed in poured-on black-ink jeans, was a male lookie-likee of the aforementioned 'Violet impersonator'. I smile to myself and once again think, 'wow, the youth of today'. I bet both of these characters do that 'porn-kiss-smile' when they are taking selfies, you know the one, don't tell me you don't?
Maybe it's not so much the youth of today but our generation who have led us to this point and not been as eager to say 'no' like our parents and grandparents before. We've just acquiesced for a quiet life, perhaps damaging us and our children in the process. Evidence for this assumption. Look at each and every layby to see the discarded bin bags and rubbish, the refuse tipped in gulleys by the roadside and yet the message is getting through about recycling and the state of the planet, I don't think so. My surmise is that we don't care enough until it directly affects us. I worry for the generations after us, what are we doing? Sorry, but I don't think we care enough to clean up our acts and any time 'do-gooders' try to tell us otherwise, we rebel, after all why wouldn't we? We've been giving in all of our lives.
Look at me spouting off!
Gandhi once wrote, 'be the change you want to see in the world,' if only I could believe it. Until then I'll keep pulling faces for babies...