Well, it got me thinking about taste, behaviour and toleration of others.
I took Michael to Central Station. In the old days, before the very good influence of my last partner, I would have stuck him on the bus and let him get on with it. Or worse still, just said goodbye at the door and expected him to do the whole thing on his own. Instead, I went all the way to the station and waited for the train to arrive and depart, then waved goodbye as it disappeared out of the station. Why? Because he’s a good friend and deserving of respect and consideration.
On the tram we were sat next to a “unit”. That is a roughly spherical shaped woman (Hamish calls them “gronks”). Before anyone complains that no woman should be ridiculed for being fat, let me add that this “unit” had her shoe propped up on the seat in front of her, where other people have to sit. She was also sending out an audible ts ts ts ts from her “personal” stereo/iPod. We shifted our seats, at my insistence.
At the station we came up against the no smoking ban (M is a chain smoker). So that meant hanging around outside for a first fag. And then a second fag on the platform (breaking the law) . On the train it would be no smoking all the way to Brussels.
Some things are banned and others are tolerated. It is a matter of taste, and people are so concerned about cancer that it’s easy to understand the ban in this case. As to a woman on the tram putting her feet on seats where other people have to sit, and also polluting the environment with tinny music, that’s okay………….ish.
I went to the library and picked up what I needed. As I left, I saw a library assistant leaning by the exit, smoking a fag – I asked him about it, and he said he wasn’t allowed to smoke inside. But inside, people carry on loud and lengthy conversations. That’s a greater irritant to me than someone having a puff on a cigarette, though I’m not particularly keen on that either, as it makes me cough.
I walked home down the Prinsengracht and this time got a really good look at the Westerkerk tower. There is no question in my mind that the new bright paint there, picking out several details, is very apt. I like it a lot, though I was thrown by it in the first instance [4/12/07]. But I was only thrown by it because I thought “am I allowed to like this?”
Perhaps even more important than questions of taste and behaviour, are matters of tolerance. If you are too intolerant, then you can’t have the relationships or friendships you would like. Unless you can find someone who shares your exact tastes and standards of behaviour. But what is the likelihood of that? No. Tolerance is a building block in these relationships and also crucial to the political dimension as well.
Just before I reached home, a beggar came up to me – a young handsome man, Asian, thin looking. He asked if I could give him some money to buy something to eat. I said no and moved on quickly. It all happened so fast that it was only as I moved away that I saw how desperate he was. And then I regretted not helping him. I said “I don’t have much money either” but as I walked on further I thought: “yes, not much money, but I can go home, I can eat, I can pull the plug on the phone if I like and do nothing except write music until Friday evening, so, by any reasonable standard, I am rich”. When I looked back, I saw the man heading towards someone else and I felt sorry for him. Oh dear.
Michael caught the Thalys 2, headed for Paris-Nord. It looked beautiful. And suddenly I missed Paris.