I thought I would have nothing important to moan about from the weekend; evidently I thought wrong.
Mid afternoon Saturday I stepped out for a jog; nothing enormous - half an hour at a medium al dente largo. It was drizzling slightly but nothing biblical; only that light indecisive drizzle London does so well, so I'd be fine.
Five seconds later the heavens opened and a further one second after that I was absolutely drenched. I won't bore you with too many more details, I'm almost boring myself already. Suffice to say I decided to jog on.
Bobbing past the shops and the bus stops I received a few strange looks. Not surprisingly I was the only one out there running in running gear - nobody in their right mind would be out in this voluntarily. I was the sole loon. Wrong again... well wrong for the first time really; the thing to moan about comes later.
Anyhoo, going through Highbury Fields I saw another jogger coming towards me. I gave him a "ha, what are we like?" wave and smile and awaited my return wave and perhaps even a shrug gesture. Both out running in a downpour? Well, this could be the start of something beautiful. He looked early thirties, perhaps still unmarried. Obviously I'll be best man; the "how did you meet" part of the speech is already a gem... unless of course he has brothers. That's fair enough, rain or no rain. He may have old friends but I don't see them out running with him in the rain. They didn't meet with a look that said everything and preceded a life-long bond that...What the Hell - he didn't wave back! What the (colourful expletive like those the pirates from the Asterix comics used to use when their ship was sinking yet again) is wrong with him? After ALL we've been through.
10 minutes later I saw another jogger. Bit of a weirdo this one. One of those types who goes jogging with a backpack on. A backpack in a downpour? No, that's taking it too far. What this adds to the jogging experience I'm not sure. If he wants an extra challenge, why doesn't he just run a bit faster? Not sure I wanted nuptial duties for this one.
Backpacker had coke-bottle glasses and an overbite from Matt Groening. Waiting at home for him was a homely looking girlfriend with dried rivers of dog drool on her home-made jersey and smelt of home-made muesli, devoured each morning with all the accuracy of the cookie monster, while poring over one of the more earnest supplements in the Guardian and...SNUBBED AGAIN, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! *$??"^%!!? I didn't even want to be friends; he's the one with the stupid backpack and the macro-biotic girlfriend!
That's it. We need rules for spontaneous greeting. Well I guess rules would add a little less spontaneity, but something has to be done. Here are my starters:
Running: Depends on the circumstances. If there are lots of you and it's Hyde park on a nice day, no. If it's somewhere more remote, especially outside of London, then yes. If it's a fun run and there are 30,000 of you, definitely.
If you're on or looking at a boat: no. One of you is land-based while the other has spent 2 minutes on a tourist boat on the Thames so thinks they're now an Admiral. Get over it. It's not that much fun and you haven't got that much in common. If you're in the Thames, maybe.
Walking a dog. Yes, interaction here is compulsory. If one of your group has started sniffing the anal glands of another, the least you can do is make small talk, while trying to yank the sniffer/ sniffee away, ruining the only bright spot in their day.
You both have children? No. you don't know their story. They might not be theirs; perhaps it's baby-sitting and haven't bothered to learn their names, perhaps they're recently kidnapped and you're looking at part 2 of a future straight-to Sunday night TV based-on-a-true-but-frankly-not-that-interesting mini-series. Actually this makes me sound a tad grumpy doesn't it? Go on then, exchange baby wisdom...
Running in a downpour? Yes! Yes! Yes! We have something in common damnit. It's not like we're on the tube. It's more like we're on the tube and both happen to be reading the same book...and it's not Harry Potter or the Metro.
Ok, point made. As you were...