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Wednesday, July 9

A Load Off

I didn't mention last night that the return train journey from London to Reading was marred by one rather unpleasant event beforehand. I'd had a nice cycle from Islington back to Paddington (a lot of -ingtons there) and found that I had 3 minutes before the Cardiff train left Paddington, first stop Reading. This would be the best train since it would not make any stops and would go on the fairly swift route to Reading. On top of that, I wouldn't have to sit with my bike, since there's a bike van... at the other end of the train. Oh shit!

Yep. I had 2 minutes to run from one end of the train to the other. You can't cycle in the station, so I couldn't do it the quick way. I literally ran. Fast. There were whistles blowing as I did it. I was certain the platform guards were trying to jeer on the fat man and maybe would even vindictively send the train off just as I reached the end.

As it was, I made it, with a few seconds to spare, plopped my bike in the back and got into a carriage.

Then the industrial strength sweating could begin.

Yuck.

I mention this because it might have something to do with the shock I received when I stood on the scales just now. I assumed I would have gained weight, given that I've had various edible treats in the last week, and have not shied away from filling my belly (albeit with healthy stuff) and have even enjoyed more than a tipple. Ooh, and I had a sneaky fried bit of something in Edinburgh which I'd sort of forgotten. However, I have, bizarrely, lost 3 and half pounds since the last weigh-in - a week ago. No idea how that happened.

So, I'm now back across a stone boundary and I promised myself that when I did this this time I'd do a bungee jump. I'll look into that for September, perhaps.

The gig tonight took a lot of getting to and I assumed it would probably not be worth it. I assumed wrong. It was a bloody lovely gig and I had a cracking time talking crap on their stage. I even found myself coming across somewhat, er, sympathetically to one of the audience - so I'm told. Perhaps I was radiating the cheer of a good gig. Perhaps I get attractive at this weight and below. Perhaps she was just short sighted and low in her standards. However, one particular lady in the audience took a shine.

I didn't meet her myself. Two of her friends came up to try to get me to come over and meet her. This was the late 30-something equivalent of "My mate fancies you" and it's not hot. Sorry. I don't do that.

In any case, I'm not sure that I should be making the most of people who think they fancy stage-Ashley. This version of me is not quite the real deal. Dependent on the sort of room and its size, this version of me is a bit more of the alpha-male than I truly am, and I don't always like him. I like him a little more when he's funnier. Generally, I stick him out there to stop him bothering nice people the rest of the time.

Don't worry. It's not a split personality, it's a metaphor.

The final thing to relate from tonight happened when I arrived in Great Shelford. I couldn't find anywhere to park, so I drove until I found somewhere where the road was wide enough to park on one side and had no cars on the other side and no markings on my side. I stopped the car. Another car pulled up behind and started hooting. I turned my engine off. More hooting. The car is now parked. The following conversation occurred when I got out of the car. Bear in mind that a queue had formed behind the hooting man, who was not happy.

Me: I'm parked here.
Him: Why are you parking there? There's a car park around the corner.
Me: Is there? Sorry, I'm not from round here.
Him: Well, you'd hoot me if I'd decided to park there.
Me: Erm, why don't you just go around me. We can discuss this another time.
Him: (general unhappiness, swearing, flicking of Vs and smoking)

Now. Was I being unreasonable? Maybe, maybe not. Was I prepared to move? Actually, I was, but wasn't given the chance to have a reasonable discussion about it. Was I in the wrong? Legally no. So what was happening?

Well, I think what I just witnessed was a "Game". In this case I think we were playing a variant of "Now I've Got You You Son of a Bitch". The disgruntled driver was hoping I would park somewhere that he could complain about. Then he could complain. He complained, hoping to goad me into a position where either I would back down and move my car, thus allowing him to exert control over him, or where I would have a go at him back, in which case he could use the moral high ground over the traffic jam that he had contrived to occur as a result of my actions, and would, therefore, be able to complain that some idiot had given him a mouthful after they (me) had parked stupidly. I was suckered into the game a little. My suggestion that he should go around, which was intended to be a neutral comment, was a bit too critical, and was enough of an attack to enable him to at least flounce off. Thus, his game was complete.

If this man writes a blog, he'll tell the story that someone came along, blocked the road and then had the audacity to suggest that people just drive around him. This will satisfy his need to play "Why does it always happen to me" and deal with his own issues. Fascinating.

I was suckered into the game as I was "in the moment" with this guy. When you are dealing with a stranger over something to do with the car, you kind of feel reactive and a little nervous about it. So, you don't get the chance to step outside of the moment and behave "perfectly". My analysis of what occurred was done after the event as I walked a little stunned to the gig from the car parking spot.

Before I totally walk away from this, as though I'm the flawless being and Mr Shouty Smoky Man is the dickhead, I think I too have this instinct - the one which looks for an injustice to complain about, thus giving me some vent to some inner frustration or other. I don't know that I do it very often - probably mostly when my drive is blocked, which I think I usually end up acting fairly reasonably over. I used to do it a lot when I was a hot-headed younger man.

Beware of the books you read, they may show you too much about how people work. That takes some of the mystery out of life.

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