Now, if you haven't seen the advert (Perhaps you're Amish? Although if that's the case, I don't know how you've managed to get online to read this using just basic tools, headscarves and a horse; Kudos!) well it would make a lot of sense for you to Click The Link and watch, before reading on *pause for viewing pleasure* Aw, wasn't that cute! You're probably thinking 'how could misery-guts here, possibly hate that?' Well let me tell you a story before I get down to the nitty gritty!
Recently I was getting a train from Manchester to Edinburgh to see my mum; the same journey during which J.K. Rowling allegedly came up with the premise for Harry Potter in its entirety (Such profitable waves of brilliance continue to elude me, but I remain hopeful!) Although she wasn't going to see my mum, I imagine she was as incensed as I, by the price of a cheese and bacon melt from Upper Crust - so we at least have that in common (Since 'such profitable waves of brilliance' have been published in 68 languages and over 200 territories, I have it on good authority that our Jo is less concerned with baguette prices. I'm afraid to say that we're no longer the kindred spirits that we once were)
I boarded the train without incident, found my reserved seat without incident, and called the person who'd been sat in it 'a dopey twat', under my breath of course. You may consider the latter to be an incident, but past-experiences visiting my mother dictates that I was bound to be frustrated by either myself or somebody else during these delicate early stages of the journey, and I just prefer it be somebody else. I kinda' like the idea that this person felt my under-breath wrath before I usurped them from my seat. Anyway, I got settled (claimed the arm-rest and made it clear to my sister that I'd rather hop to Scotland than talk to her for the duration) and we left Manchester Picadilly.
Some time later and everything's going as well as I could have hoped. By that I mean: we're over an hour in and haven't derailed, I haven't yet paid over the odds for a tartan packet of shortbread and I got to see a portly gentleman run for (and miss) the train at Bolton, happy days. I've got the little fold-down table folded down in front of me and littered with, well, litter. A half-empty bottle of Ribena (it'd be 'half-full' if I was in first class) and a Wine Gums wrapper. There's my iPod, a receipt for the aforementioned litter, which on reflection is also litter, and a copy of George Elliot's 'Daniel Deronda' which I've wrestled with for some time (and by 'wrestled' I mean section 18 Grievous Bodily Harm)
Having slammed the book down a while back, I've resorted to resting my forehead on the window whilst the passengers who've forgotten to bring their own literature stare at me balefully for my apparent lack of respect at my fortunate position, of having a book to read. The train starts to slow as we arrive at the next station, Carlisle perhaps, and so I lift my head from the window so as not to look like I'm licking it (If it had been Preston, I wouldn't have bothered...when in Rome)
Whenever I'm on a train and it makes a stop, I find myself looking at everyone on the platform and trying to guess whether they're about to board and make things even more cramped, or if they're just waiting for the next one. My primary concern up until now had been trying to bite all the chocolate off one of my sister's Malteasers without breaking the biscuit and so this was a welcome distraction. I began to stare through the now thinning mass of bodies as people broke upon the train like waves (not literally of course, that would be horrific) and as I began to shake my head at the sheer amount of people wearing walking boots, I noticed a girl. I'd have noticed her sooner had she been stood at the edge of the platform with her skirt billowing up around her, but my life is not The Seven Year Itch (If you don't catch my drift, then Google is your friend)
She was nice though. Pretty, I think the top of her head would have measured just above my shoulder. It was this piece of guesswork that led me to ask myself more questions about her, that I wouldn't have been able to answer, even if I wanted to. And I wanted to.
I wanted to know what was in her Costa cup. Whether or not it was too hot to drink yet; the way she wrapped her hands around it suggested it was a warm drink. I followed the typical white Apple wire from her bag to her neck where it split into each ear, and I wondered what she was listening too. I mean that I hoped it was something I'd like. Something we'd have in common. The fact we were both wearing the same colour Vans (blue) wasn't really enough of an ice-breaker due to the disgruntled looking chap rocking the same shoes, not ten yards from my muse. And he wasn't my type (despite being disgruntled) The 'ding' from the train doors stirred me from my thoughts and I realized that she was staying put.
This didn't come as a shock to me, nor did it break my heart - but in that moment I was able to isolate a few of the thoughts I'd been having, and I'm embarrassed to share them with you now (before finally getting to my point)
I'd been thinking about walking side by side with this girl, our hands in each other's back pockets as we 'walked and talked', our free hands perhaps nursing warm Costa cups. I hadn't imagined a conversation but I know we were talking. I'd been watching our different sized, same shoes, moving out in front of me as we strolled. I'd been thinking about walking across wooden floorboards. Walking up behind her as she's stood washing the pots from dinner, looking out of the window above the sink. I put my hands on her waist, my index fingers on her hip bones (I don't want you to think this as being sexist or misogynistic, it's just pleasantly convenient that it was her night to wash up...I'd probably made the dinner anyway!) And now I get to explain why all this makes me hate that advert.
Firstly, now this doesn't bother me as much as the 'thirdly', but this guy is setting the bar pretty high! If it wasn't already hard enough to pluck up the courage to tell someone they look nice, to complement them, feign interest in what they're doing or straight up ask for their contact information...now we're meant to sing it acapella?! Because of this smug bellend, the next time I want to approach an attractive young lady, I feel the need to have a fucking ukulele with me, to even have a chance! Where on earth was he even going with that thing anyway, to Preston?!
Secondly, she bought it! Now I may not be Vidal Sassoon but even I could tell that she was most certainly not 'a natural blonde'. And he got her age wrong! I'm not saying I'd have been right on with this one either, but I know not to try. You could tell she was between 25/30 and at that point it's best not to push your luck. If you guess too young well then she's worried, you think her girly and unsophisticated. Guess too old, you may as well hit yourself over the head with the shovel you've been digging your grave with. And he suggested that she looked the type to be going to Leeds...Leeds! If I was her I'd have thrown myself onto the rails. (Oh, I checked and can confirm that Wigan is not the 'home of pies' either, so he's made himself look a right mug there too)
But now, the big Thirdly. This advert shows a situation and two people I envy. This man, albeit with the aid of one of the more pathetic string instruments, says exactly what he wants to. Exactly what he means. He forgets about the other commuters around him and puts aside the stigma that one could be seen as being unbalanced for singing across a railway at a stranger. I don't even like doing karaoke (I deplore it) His voice, his words, his timing- none of it's a concern for him, or in turn for her. It becomes a special moment for them both that they'd remember forever, regardless of the outcome.
If I'd have been her, I'd have been a little on edge and embarrassed by having a tuneless stranger serenade me in broad daylight. I probably wouldn't have lost my place in my book to appease them and it's highly unlikely that I'd have missed my train (unless it was to Leeds) to join them. Would you? We wouldn't, and that's the problem I think, with me certainly. And the fact that it took a Match.com advert to bring to my attention that I'm not making the most of my life, really is an upset. I'm far too safe when it comes to this sort of thing. It's not that I 'care what others think' per se, it's just that...well actually I sort of must do, as I've sat staring at those three dots for a few minutes now and no excuse has been forthcoming. It's not that I'm not romantic or spontaneous either, I think it's just a comfort thing that I'm gonna' have to work on.
I could have got off my train at Carlisle, walked right up to that girl and explained all of this to her (leaving out any profanity and the washing up rota) She could have given me a look before running for her life, or she could have married me a few years down the line. Surely every marriage must have started with a 'hello' of sorts? Or maybe she was about to jump on the rails and that was just what she needed to hear at that moment (come to think of it, she didn't have much luggage, so that's certainly a possibility) Now another 'ding' jolts my forehead from the window. I've arrived.
It was at this point that I told myself, it was only ever just a television advert. Scripted and paid for, without any real spontaneity or consequence. Those two people never really stared at their shuffling shoes with genuine awkwardness, or exchanged numbers. Nor did they board the next train to anywhere and start a new life together with net curtains, cutlery sets and a golden retriever, but it's a nice menagerie and one that I hope to learn a lesson from. Maybe this marks a new page in my life. A watershed. A more positive outlook. I collected up my things and rose from my seat, smiling in spite of myself at my own sentimentality. And it was that very smile that was replaced by a vicious scowl, as only now do I see my card and realize I've been sat in the wrong seat all along!