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Monday, 17 September 2012

A Grand Day Out

A little over a week ago, I went to see Dredd. But we'll get to that. First let me tell you about the day I had in the run up to watching the film.

Because I am me, and therefore pathologically incapable of planning ahead or having any kind of workable time management skills, I just left the house when my bits of housework were done and headed off to Darlington on the basis that there was bound to be a screening at some point round about the time I got there. Surely.

3 and a half hours I had to kill. 3 and a half hours! In Darlington, of all places.

Of course, with loads of time to kill there's only one logical thing to do; so I bought some pringles from the pound shop and sat on a public bench to tweet about how I had loads of time to kill. Which was when it happened. Attack of the Spider!

Have you ever sat and watched a spider run up and down your arm for ages? It goes up. It goes down. It goes up. It goes down. It goes up... I can thoroughly recommend the experience for it's therapeutic properties. There's more to life than spider athletics though, or pringles for that matter, so I roused myself and headed into the town centre.

 As I passed through one of those little tunnels under the road that I can't remember the name of but come in very handy when buskers don't want to get wet in rain showers, I heard a woman bemoaning, in very strident terms, that something 'was not her bloody fault!' I say bemoaning in strident terms. What I mean is yelling at the top of her lungs. As I drew closer to the as yet unseen woman it became apparent that whatever it was she had done wrong, it had involved her being put under pressure to make a decision, in a split second. She's not good under pressure, and the other (unheard, and at this point, as far as I knew, possibly imaginary) person should know this and stop haranguing her (she actually said haranguing, I was gobsmacked) about this stuff.

Turns out the person getting shouted at was a child, of about 8. Who, seemingly oblivious to her distress (or possibly just not knowing what haranguing is), continued to calmly explain that he didn't like that kind of ice cream and wouldn't be eating it, thank you very much. I moved on.

In the market place there was a man. He was hanging off a lamp post and reading scripture, very loudly. Apparently, and I wasn't aware of this so he's taught me something at least, we are all dust in the eyes of God. He went on to explain that it is a sin of presumption to think yourself anything more than said dust. Now, I'm not a particularly religious chap, but I find it hard to fault the logic there. Moving on.

Cafe! Sat in the really cramped cafe with ultra uncomfortable seats and read a bit of my book (A Serpent Uncoiled, by Simon Spurrier, if you must know, and it's effing marvelous) whilst eating chips, beans, and FISH FINGERS! I hadn't had fish fingers in years! Why don't I eat fish fingers anymore? I love fish fingers! Cafe got extra busy so I left as soon as I'd finished eating, rather than carry out my plan of staying and reading for ages while nursing my coffee and looking sullenly at the staff as they made passive aggressive attempts to move me along by wiping around my cup and 'accidentally' bumping my seat.

At this point I was running out of ideas to kill time and still had 2 hours to go. Things were looking desperate. I'm not saying that Darlington has nothing going for it; there are two licensed sex shops with a wide variety of dvd's to suit all tastes, after all. Sadly, and you'll know this if you've ever been in a high street sex shop, they are massively expensive, so not really an option; it's weird, but I have no embarrassment about going in to those places and buying stuff, but if I go in, wander around and then leave empty handed I feel like a dirty old man and get all self conscious. Explain that, Frasier!

Anyway, I decided to go on a mission. Many moons ago when A Dance With Dragons came out I didn't buy it because there was no rush, on account of how I wanted to re-read all the previous books in the Song of Ice and Fire series first. When I finally did get around to buying it, it had gone from the shops. Obviously. I have all the others in hardback; no way was I buying this one in paperback. So with this time to spare I went on a search of all the charity shops and second hand book shops I could find.

I didn't find the book second hand, although I eventually did pick up a copy in a publishers clearance shop, but what I did find was a shop purporting to be given books away! I went inside, it wasn't a scam! Apparently all the books had been rescued from landfill and they just wanted them to go to a good home. You could help yourself! Is this a thing? I approve!

Anyway, I spent a good while after that sitting on a park bench watching a bunch of squirrels prancing around without a care in the world, and a bunch of drunk men be very threatening to various passers by who wouldn't give them a cigarette. Then off to see Dredd I didst gambol. After a quick stop at the poundshop for some more pringles and the old 3 cans of pop for a pound deal. Because have you seen how much that shit costs in the cinema? I'd like to!

Dredd was, as I had hoped; but wasn't, if I'm being honest, wholly expecting given what had happened last time someone made a movie of this character; a bloody brilliant film, full of lashings of hardcore violence, blood splatter, one liners and things blowing up. Just what the Doctor ordered. Although I was a little distracted by the fact that a member of staff sat near me for over half the film. Was he watching me eat my pringles? What are the rules about bringing your own food to the cinema? WHY IS HE LOOKING AT M...Oh, it's fine, he's gone.

After the movie I went to the bakers, got a pasty, a chocolate eclair and a bottle of water and then headed for the bus home. On the way passing a very creepy human statue performer who, I'm not afraid to admit, well put the shits up me. A performer I might add who was in Newcastle two days ago when I was there. I saw her from a distance and after thinking it was a strange coincidence, then discounting that on the basis that coincidences don't exist and coming to the conclusion that she must therefore be stalking me, I steeled myself to pass her. And I still crapped myself when she waved as I went past. Anyway, back to a week ago...

Hard as it is to believe, all that waffle above was meant to be funny. I know, I know. But I'd like to end on a serious note. If you'll indulge me?

Whilst sitting on the bus awaiting departure I heard a shout, from the pavement outside. A mans voice, slurred, shouting about how "that's a nice bag love, how much was that, darling?" I looked up, already having become engrossed in my book again, and say two men bearing down on an attractive young woman, leering like nutcases and obviously drunk. The woman put her head down and carried on walking.

They followed. I watched, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a nagging voice in the back of my head saying " do something." I didn't. They followed her along the street, asking about her clothes, her bag, how she was doing; all at high volume and all while leaning in extremely closely. She looked terrified, and increased her pace. I still did nothing.

When she neared the corner, she actually started to run, and disappeared from sight. The drunk men stood and laughed for a couple of seconds... then one nudged the other and they started to run after her. I watched the other people on the street; surely one of them would say something? But no. I told myself that I should get off the bus and follow; try to intervene... but I didn't, and the bus started to move, and I told myself I couldn't help now anyway and besides, she'd be all right. She would just go into a shop until they got bored, or she would flag down a security guard in the precinct or...

Even if the woman was in no physical danger, and I'm in no way certain that she wasn't, she was definitely distressed. And I did nothing; not because I didn't think those men were in the wrong, but because I was scared. I wanted to intervene, but I wanted to not get punched more.

I'm ashamed of my behaviour, but I'm not going to lie to you, I think I'd probably react in exactly the same way again if the situation arose. I guess that's just the kind of man I am. A coward. A coward, and a shit.

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