Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Sniff Continuo

I'm not one to complain about commuting. Most of the time I positively enjoy my train journeys to and from work, which I spend reading, listening to music and looking out of the window at the passing scene - surprisingly 'wild', as my route passes through a string of commons and well-colonised edgelands. But on the way in this morning, I was sitting quietly reading when a young man of more-or-less respectable appearance took over the seat opposite me, connected himself to his iPod - and commenced sniffing. Sniffing loudly and lingeringly every ten seconds or so. I gave him one of my withering looks, but of course he was intent on his little screen and quite unaware of anything or anyone around him. Taking out my DiscMan (note for younger readers: This is a near-obsolete portable device for listening to old-style 'CDs'), I thought I would drown out this unwelcome sound by playing music. But it's astonishing how penetrating the sound of sniffing can be. Every few seconds it would come - sniff... sniff... And believe me, Poulenc's choral music is not improved by a sniff continuo. Yes I know - I should have done the smart thing and handed him a tissue. I didn't - but another passenger, getting off at Clapham Junction, did. The young man thanked him in a devil-may-care manner, made perfunctory use of the tissue - and continued to sniff determinedly all the way to Victoria. Just another example of how 'personal' technology allows us each to live in his/her own little bubble, as if the world around us didn't exist. But then I can't be censorious, as that's precisely what I too was trying to achieve with my music, if only in self defence.

7 comments:

  1. Suffering indeed Nige, I would suggest the use of a good old fashioned ghetto blaster, may be obtained from any good charity shop in a high street near you, effective, if somewhat bulky.
    Picture if you will the ancient rattler, winding it's way down through the northern Indian foothills. On board the successful French Herzog expedition, first ascentionists of Annapurna, a real pig of a Himalaya. A number of the team had suffered frostbite and, in case gangrene set in, were being parted from their fingers and tootsies. Horrified locals sat opposite and with boggling eyes were given front stalls views of the action. The rattler eventually wheezed into a crowded station, the carriage door flew open and Jacques Oudot, the expedition doctor, ever the good housekeeper, swept the bits onto the platform. The terrified crowd ran away screaming, fearing some evil was being cast down upon them by the sahibs.

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  2. Oh Malty, Malty, thank you for that - if I was giving away a bottle of Glengoyne for Comment of the Month, it would be yours, no question!

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  3. You think a DiscMan is ancient technology Nige? Try finding a Walkman when you want one. I'm setting about transfering a lot of old perfomance cassettes to MP3 or at least I am if i can find anything at all to play tapes on.

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  4. I'm treasuring my Walkman, Banished - and my store of tapes. It's still possible to pick up a Walkman (new) on eBay, but probably not for much longer...

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