Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Battle Of the Cringe on the 14.43 to Waterloo.

So, there I was, sitting quietly, minding my own business ( as is customary on an English train ) , when the flute I was carrying dropped to the floor. Now this would be absolutlely fine in normal circumstances. Mildly embarassing perhaps, but not soul-destroying. I thought that maybe I could just pick it up, smile awkwardly at mock-concerened fellow passengers and be on my way to Waterloo. WRONG

Man:(in a slippery, overtly concerened tone, Western African accent) Are you...Okay?

Terror strikes me like a big, heavy, metal pole. I dont immediatly look up, as I am so crestenfallen. I know what this means. It means the onset of an ongoing saga of Cringe. I need to end this. And I need to end this now
Me: (in a short, coldly cooperative tone) Yup. And that should have been the end of it, or I hoped it would be. I hoped that this would somehow prevent my comfortableness being systematically destroyed. I was wrong, again. I open my book and stare at the pages as if they had the meaning of life and the universe etched across them in gold leafed calligraphy, eyes as round as saucers, a look of concentration so fierce only a foolish dunce would disturb me. But I can feel his eyes boring into the side of my head like a sniper's dot. And in my periphial vision, I can deduce that this repellent man is thinking of another way to form contact.

Man:(with a carefully crafted 'I-have-rehearsed-this-in-my-head' tone) Do you know..where Woking is?

WHAT. He could have at least come up with a better conversation point than that little gem, like perhaps the state of the economy in Luxemborg or opium production in Afghanistan. I look up at my opponent in this Battle of the Cringe. His beady eues peer at me and his slug-like lips twich repuslively. I know where this is going. And I am pathetically powerless.

Me:(in a robotic, purposefully unattractive manner) We. are.on.a.train.that.stops.in.Woking.

I snap my head back frantically, and bury my nose further into the spine of my book. I contrort my body into the most closed body language I can fathom and press muself firmly against the window, the furthest I can get away from this horrible little man. He leans over the gangway awkwardly, still staring at me, still thinking of things to say ( I can hear the cogs turn in his head), oblivious to my hints. I want to cry.

Man: Do you live Portsmouth?

Me: No
Man:Where do you live?
Me: East London

Man:(Dangerous raise in excitement to his voice) So do I!


My brain screams in anguish. This thing could not possibly go further, or more quickly downhill if it has a 28 tonne tugboat tied to it and said hill was a cliff. I take to practically ingesting the poor Charlie Brooker book.

Man: My name is Olaf

Me: (nods slowly, every movement of head is enhanced tenfold and slowed down to bullet-time)
I sit there in silence. Maybe he had finally got the hint that I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a toilet brush than carry on talking to His Creepyness. Time slows down drenched in stodgy Cringe. Neither of us move, suddenly paralysed by the thick atmosphere. I indulge in an inner smile, sure that finally, victory is mine.

Olaf: What is your name?

Me: (Visibly crushed) Almaz :(

I whip out my phone and start tweeting furiously in a way that suggests 'I now must not be disturbed under any circumtances on pain of death but driving this phone into your temple.' Then all of a sudden, an unfortunately familiar voice breaks the silence of my cringeful excruciation.

Can I take you out to dinner

Huh? Cringe Central and the 14.43 to Waterloo!! Is this guy SERIOUS?Oh my days, oh my life. But deep down, I knew this was where we would end up, right in this very spot. I just could not bring myself to believe it. I can feel the collective click of ears pricking up all over the carriage.

(so very firmly, a look of disbelief scrawled onto my face by my scrambling brain) No.


Me: I don't want to
Olaf-the-fisheyed-fool: Why?
Me: Just don't
Olaf-the-detestable-little-man: Why?
Me:(more and more aghast) I don't want to see...anyone!


Now I am AN-GER-Y. How DARE he? I turn back to my book, blood boiling hotly, superman style lasers burning through the 'gold gilded book of the meaning of life anf the universe'. I tweet even more furiously. How DARE this CRETIN make me cringe, so? I giggle manically in my head. He is responsible for my imminent insanity, I am sure of it and he will pay. I snap my head up only just avoiding paralysis.

I can come to your house and pick you up if this is the problem.
(practically roaring/spluttering hysterically, utter manic confusiong racking my little frame) I ASSURE YOU THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM!!!
Olaf-the-absolute-dirk: Can I have your number?

Lost the will to laugh. Lost the will to love. Lost the will to live.

Me: (Like a world-weary sea captain who has lost all h is crew and can only sigh due to utter dejection)NOOooo
Olaf: Facebook
Me: Don't have it

Olaf: Email
Me: No
Olaf-two-brain-cell: Why?
Me: Because they are mine to keep.

Olaf-the-idiot actually look annoyed with ME. All ican do is languish sullenly, waves of cringe walking over me like the waters of the Lake Distict. Why me, God? Why me. But wait! Olaf is not leaning over the aisle like a fool! Has my ordeal ceased at alst? I begin to read my book again, actually able to enjoy it without little eyes crawing all over me. 5 minutes pass. Ten. OUT OF THE WOODS!!!! Bur wait. Actually, wait.

Olaf: I feel bad now. I feel bad now.


Me: Don't feel bad, you tried.

I crack a smile. It really is over. The storm is over. The Cringe subsides. The battle is won, And the next thing I know we are stopping at beautiful, glorious Woking.
And though I still have my battle scars, dealt but the mighty hands of Olaf, directly administering Cringe. I wear them proudly. And women out there-I know you do too ;)


  1. that's hilarious!!! Well written can proper picture it!

  2. loool wow girl that is great! :D

  3. Jokes, speechless jokes.... poor olaf though still