Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Violations of Privacy

I might not be the only person in the world who gets upset (in the Victorian "harrumph" sense) when my personal space is invaded, but sometimes I feel like I am the person most likely to overreact. On a recent trip to London I found myself quipping endless sarcastic comments to people brushing past me in tube stations, compounding evidence to prove that I do in fact suffer terribly from Small Town Syndrome. One such example finds me claiming to be able to crush a baby if forced to fall on it, after being rammed in the foot by an impatient mother and her lavishly expensive buggy-mobile.

Have you ever heard of Paris Syndrome? It's a strange-sounding form of culture shock suffered by, apparently, the Japanese alone. Building a romantic image of the world's most cliché marriage proposal hotspot has led the Japanese as a culture to believe that France and especially it's capital are tranquil, quaint and set somewhere in the 1920s, with mild mannered bakers whistling 'je ne regrette rien' on their way to the market. As fellow Europeans (and as semi-racist English people who take any chance they can to have a pop at the French for some reason or another), we know this dreamlike vision to be false. Extremely false. Any trip to the Champs Elysees on wheels will leave you feeling that perhaps France has gone totally and uncontrollably mental. Nevertheless, tourists visit Paris with these heady preconceptions, and are left with shock so severe, repatriation treatment is needed in order for them to be able to go back to their normal lives.

Sometimes I wish there were classes to go to in order to get over shocks that life throws at you from time to time (or if you're me, every day). Forget repatriation to England, I'd like a course on how to deal with everyday ocurrances in a more human-like way. Things like missing an important train, or forgetting my keys, or saying an unfortunately offensive sentence in front of people you don't want to aggravate (eg. saying Gordon Brown was a legend for calling that awful woman a bigot in front of hardened Tory semi-relatives). They would be so useful I'd consider paying for the entire scheme myself.

My reason for wishing there was such a thing as "life school" comes after my 'last straw' moment, when I freaked out so badly over a broken window that I called the police. Some would say sensible. I, however, was concerned that perhaps the broken window was a vendetta against me as I will be possibly appearing in court as a witness soon, and was convinced i was going to be kidnapped or murdered in my sleep. As it transpired, the cause of the mysteriously round hole in the window was made by a stray golf ball, chucked - no doubt - by the horrible little monster children that let themselves in my garden to see what rubbish we have worth taking. Last week they took an old pushbike and a broken oven off our hands and our patio. This week, who knows? Perhaps the Polo? Or the cat?

The window-hole caused much palpitations and panicking, but I wonder - had I been trained to deal with situations like this, would I have been any better? Or is having your home and personal space violated so inherently awful that you can't help but feel vulnerable and isolated? This one broken window showed me that just because I had walls around me didn't necessarily mean I was safe from the world around me. I could leave the house in the morning and get flattened by a falling grand piano. Precautions need to be taken, which is why I am staying in bed all day today with the cat, eating tomato soup and feeling sorry for myself. I need to move back to the country.


chestymorgan said...

It's easy to berate yourself after the fact.Congratulate yourself on exorcising your anxieties now so you'll be more likely to be a cool,calm and collected person in the future.I have become increasingly more hysterical with age to the extent that I often wonder was i a much better person when I was a habitual stoner.

Dreamlike detachment is the only way to live imo XX

Katie said...

Excellent advice :) I should have Selected Ambient Works piped continuously through my floorboards to keep me on a sane level of floatylight dreaminess :) x

Mike said...

Sometimes i get annoyed when i see people coming through the gate to cram leaflets into my postbox (and not just because i REALLY don't need any trees cutting down and i'm more than happy with the Dominos menu i already have thankyouverymuch), for me any invasion of personal space, and by extension living territory, is met with suspicion, and i'd imagine it invokes certain primal feelings in most people.

I think it's like anything though, the older you get and the more you learn about the world, the more potential there can be for fear (and related emotions), as you realise all the horrible possibilities, and all the things that could go wrong.

I remember when i was around 16/17 i didn't give a fuck about a whole lot, but that's partly because (contrary to what i believed at the time) i didn't really know a whole lot..

In general i'd say it's better to face things head-on, sort it out, and move on to the next one!

家豪 said...

我們這一代最偉大的發現是,人類可以藉由改變心中的態度來改變人生。 ..................................................

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