Friday, 7 February 2014

People-watching vs Public-perving

People-watching or, essentially; socially acceptable public-perving, is something we are all partially guilty of doing whether consciously or sub-consciously. It is evident to see a growing interest in other people’s lives. The birth of TOWIE, Big Brother, Made in Chelsea and Kim Kardashian’s back-side, highlights a consistent love of prying. Ultimately, we have become a nation of nosy neighbours.

So why so much eye-balling? Well there are numerous reasons. First and foremost, we like to judge; we have all dabbled in the judgement department and, in all honesty, we really quite enjoy it. For all of those who deny such participation, please remove yourself from your high horse and get acquainted with the ground. Great. Judging involves various levels; some partake on an extreme level, visually vomiting at the fatty devouring a KFC (this tends to spawn viscous mental notes e.g. ‘Sure you really need that love?’). Others partake on a more casual level, we’re talking, ‘ooh nice blouse, not sure about the shoes’. Other common judgments can include mental totty ratings (many of a sordid variety), scrutinising of behaviour and general self-comparisons. The judgements we make whilst people watching are generally used to massage the old egos. We revel in the critical comparisons we make between members of the public and our own fabulous selves.

Secondly, people-watching offers a degree of entertainment. Living in the colourful Town of Swindon, I have been fortunate enough to encounter a diverse amount of visual delights, all of which have constituted, what I like to call; prime-time comedy gold. Travelling via public transport alone has offered spectacle’s that would put Jeremy Kyle to shame. Swindon’s entertainment value transcends and exceeds much of what I view on TV, choosing a different location is like choosing a different channel, we’re talking Come Dine to Country File within a 15 minute drive. It also offers a more intimate viewing experience, to the extent where viewing can even adopt a kind of risk-element, actually threatening personal safety and well-being. Indeed, a thrilling watch for all you adrenaline junkies. Watching people who look happy, or drunk, or inbred fills us with a little bit of joy. Quite frankly we are fascinated by these priceless social snippets. People’s behaviour and appearance gives us a little bit of insight into other people’s lives. It is a potion which both probes at our curiosity and kick-starts our imagination.

Thirdly, I find people-watching has become a form of comfort-eating, like watching trash on TV. You passively watch knowing a few brain cells may wander and never come back but it feels kind of nice. We embrace the numbness and indulge in some voyeuristic ‘me-time’. People-watching has also developed into a kind of free (YES FREE!) leisurely hobby, something fundamentally unnecessary, but undeniably addictive.

And so, my dearly beloveds, I conclude; It is ok to be a nosy neighbour, or the ultimate public-perver. Please embrace the bargain that is bestowed by your society and treat yourself to some prime-time people-watching.

Friday, 3 January 2014


So this is something that's been brewing for a while, not like a nice cup of PG Tips, we're talking Gandhi’s revenge after a night out down the local curry house...Yes people, you guessed it, it's about to get messy.

It erupted on boxing day, a relatively peaceful afternoon, despite the pecking order of suicidal shoppers, hacking at the sale rails for their latest must-have bargains. I'd just finished coffee with the familan in the go-to coffee house and was making my way out. Seeing as there were a few members of the public wanting to come in, I thought I'd take the time to hold the door open and let these fabulous people in (It was christmas after all, a time of good-will and such). Oh they were wonderful, beautiful, each one in turn, waltzed on past...not even a smile. This is where shit hit the fan. I felt myself enraged. I, as a 21 year-old, was bearing witness to members of the public (many older than myself) ignoring my act of common courtesy, not even a 'ta'. The ignorance, THE INSOLENCE! HOW HARD IS IT TO UTTER A SYLLABLE? A SYLLABLE!! YOU SCUM SUCKING PEASANTS! I didn't say this; unfortunately my anger didn't prompt vulgarity. However, it did prompt audacity. I found myself bold from boiling blood. I locked eyes with each passer-by and in turn took the time to utter three syllables with each of them. 'You're Welcome', two words which were delivered coldly, challenging their ignorance. Some carried on, obviously transfixed by the prospect of a cafe latte and a blueberry muffin. Others developed this look, a look I can only describe as something of disgust, as though I had just made an inappropriate joke about their mother (you know, a fat one). It was that moment, that look, that unknown ignorance, that made me die a little bit inside, right there and then in the middle of Swindon Town Centre.

What have we become? More and more I am being subject to door-opening without any kind of 'thank you', any kind of recognition. More and more I am bearing witness to simple requests lacking a 'please'. Too many times have I seen people on busy trains and buses hastily putting their bag down on the aisle seat because they SIMPLY CANNOT BEAR to sit next to another human being. Too many times have I been subject to unnecessary rudeness, filthy looks and a general lack of common courtesy. Whatever happened to helping a brother out, eh? Love thy neighbour and all that jazz. Common courtesy is being forgotten, left behind with the p's and q's. A small task yes, but a big deal all the same. How long does it take to say please? How long does it take to hold a door open? How hard is it to say thank you, to be nice to someone? It isn't. It really isn't. Common courtesy is something I take seriously. It’s easy, it's affordable and it’s efficient. Therefore having a little common courtesy here and there really has no time for excuses. It is the marine biscuit of social acceptance; we're talking hobnobs, not rich tea's.

Have some common courtesy. Acknowledge someone's niceness, and be nice yourself. Let's face it, no one likes an Arsehole.