Sunday, 15 July 2007

Spotted on the journey home...

There are three things about my journey home on Friday which stick in my mind:

  1.  In a stretch of terraced housing next to the Clapham-Woking line, there are four houses in a row with near-identical trampolines in their gardens. There are maybe another five or so trampolines distributed amongst the remaining houses in the terrace.
  2. Outside Woking station, there is a bright orange machine which on its side proudly declares itself in large lettering to be a "WET SPOT MACHINE".
  3. Walking down to the underpass outside Guildford station, I found myself confronted by three youngish women with monster-sized buggies. They walked three abreast. With the mammoth size of the buggies, there was not sufficient room for me to get past.

The first observation struck me as a powerful demonstration of the force of "pester power". I can just imagine the sequence of events, conversations, tantrums and capitulation that resulted in the insidious invasion of trampolines throughout this terrace. It doesn't take much creativity - one family gets a trampoline, the kids next door pester their parents, meanwhile the family over their other fence have succumbed and bought their sprots a trampoline, leaving Mr and Mrs Bloggs in the middle with kids telling them at every opportunity that everyone else has a trampoline, wearing them down over the course of a month or six, until the emotional blackmail, hunger strikes and threats of phoning Childline all became too much and a trampoline appeared in the garden whilst the kids were at school. Kids learn quickly. Similar things happens a few doors down. And so on, until there's a rash of trampolines taking over a neighbourhood.

There's not much to say about the WET SPOT MACHINE... I wonder whether it makes wet spots or cleans them up. It makes me laugh, and there's precious little humour to be had on my commute home, so the WET SPOT MACHINE is rather dear to me. I do find it fascinating that it needs to explain what it is on the side. Think about it - when was the last time you saw a sewing machine that said "SEWING MACHINE" on the side? Or a random piece of industrial machinery which declared its essence on itself in large lettering? I actually cannot think of a reason why anyone would need to write WET SPOT MACHINE on the side of the machine, except to give people like me a chuckle on the way home. And for that, I thank them. I should like to nominate them for an honour, except I don't know who they are.

The three youngish women with their babies on buggies who were terrorising commuters of Guildford by blocking the underpass by walking with their buggies three abreast made me despair for the genetic inheritance of their kids. One of them actually hurled abuse at me for getting in their way. I pointed out rather politely (under the circumstances) that there was no way both myself and the three of them with their spacious and capacious buggies could continue in our desired directions unless they rearranged themselves such that they were not blocking the underpass in piston formation. They were kind enough to teach me some new words and insults before running over my foot and lower leg with (thankfully) the least oversized of the three buggies. As they disappeared, I found myself hoping that, in the not-too-distant future, one of their kids would want a trampoline...

8 comments:

KindaBlue said...

They'll be the same mothers who will insist on taking their three-wheeled mini bath chairs into the busiest shops on the high street, usually around Christmas. These days I daren't venture into Boots or Woolworths during December, unless I happen to be wearing sturdy boots and shinguards. I feel your pain, and have done on many occasions up to now!

Anna MR said...

It's funny how the people one would like to support (mothers of small children, cyclists) land up acting so obnoxious one can't. (I always used a sling for carrying my babies, and a backpack carry thing when they got a little bigger. Granted, I was dangerous in glass ware shops when I turned around, but I took up less pavement space. Also, I thought it was nice to carry my children.)

I am in love with the WET SPOT MACHINE.

x

But Why? said...

Kindablue,

Thanks for the empathy. It's always a comfort to receive the thoughts and understanding of ones who have gone before. Somehow I will struggle through the coming days until my wounds have healed and I feel able to confront the vicious youngish mothers of Guildford...


Anna,

Yes, and good on you for carrying your kids. I suspect the kids probably find it more comforting than being thrust face first into the public glare, unable to see their parent/s.

I often despair at the behaviour of some cyclists who seem to think that because they perceive themselves to be vulnerable, they can do whatever they like without regard for others. The idiots.

I shall see whether I can get a photo of the WET SPOT MACHINE to adorn my blog. However, there are no promises, and I am rather concerned that I might look like a train spotter if I am seen wandering around Woking station with a camera taking pictures of the empty rails. And also, I suspect if you saw the WET SPOT MACHINE, it might seem less desirable. It's certainly not very sexy in any traditional interpretation.

But xx

Anna MR said...

But - I'm sorry about this, but you'll just have to go about for the rest of your life with a "suspected of trainspotting" label affixed to your forehead... because it is quite clear we need pictures of the WET SPOT MACHINE. Whether it is sexy or not.

x

But Why? said...

Anna,

Suspected of trainspotting for the rest of my life? That is a cruel and unusual punishment, indeed! But just for you, and because you asked so nicely, I shall slip my camera into my handbag to be at the ready for the journey home tomorrow, on guard to snap the unsuspecting WET SPOT MACHINE. I can't help think that any picture might be a bit of an anticlimax, though, so you may have to downwardly manage your expectations in advance of having sight of the world famous Woking WET SPOT MACHINE.

But xx

Anna MR said...

Oh But, the countdown has started, and I am barely managing to contain my excitement here in the sweltering North. It is good to have things to look forward to in life...

(If I was still in my rock'n'roll age, I would be pogoing wildly)

x

Pixie said...

you go girl, tell it how it is. Don't put up with crap from ignorant buggie women or their offrnsive off spring... I would make a comment about wet spot machine, but it's been done....

You really are a geek. And so to reward you I'm noninating you for an award. Come to see what and why.
PXX

But Why? said...

Pixie,

A ward? With people in white coats taking my temperature at godforsaken times of the morning? I'm a geek, not an invalid.

Bless you. You are a sweetie...

But xx