Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Idiot listening

New Cross Road, late afternoon. At any time of day this is a dangerous road. The traffic lights are timed short so that there is barely time for a young and fit pedestrian to cross before the traffic starts again; cyclists jump the lights and abuse those who get in their way; the police drive at alarming speed with deafening alarms; et cetera. And at this time of day people want to get home.

A young man wearing what turn out to be noise-excluding headphones wanders across the road. People shout at him because he isn't walking in a straight line; but he can't hear them.

When he gets to the midpoint of the crossing, he has a thought, for want of a better term, and pauses. The lights change. The traffic begins to move. He walks at an unexpected angle. He gets in people's way. They panic. He stops. People push him. He swears at them. He walks back the way he has come. More people push him. He becomes self-righteously angry. He can't hear anything except the private world of his music.

A woman rides her bike along the crowded pavement and tries to jump it into the station, over the step. When walkers complain, she doesn't hear them because she has headphones on; but she does get angry when they get in her way.

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