Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not-So-Good Friday

You may think that Good Friday is the day on which we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. Or perhaps you are more drawn to the Pagan celebration of Eostre, the fertility goddess whose symbol of a hare is thought to be the origin of the Easter Bunny? On both counts you would be wrong. Good Friday actually marks the official start of the ‘tourist season’ in the small Yorkshire market town in which I work.

It is an ancient and annual event. In the early hours of Good Friday morning, coaches travel far and wide across the vast county that is Yorkshire. If the driver remembers his passport they may even make it as far as Lancashire or Tyneside. These coaches gather a motley collection of people and deposit them at daybreak into the market place of our small town. Their sole purpose is to wander aimlessly for several hours, thus clogging up the narrow streets and ensuring that ‘popping out in your lunch break to buy a sandwich’ becomes a harrowing event of stroke-inducing proportions.

Today saw a particularly fine collection of such folk. I spotted:

  • People who have never seen a market before.
  • People who have never seen a cobbled street before.
  • People who have never seen cheese before.
  • People with several dogs, that they have trained specifically to walk on the opposite side of the pavement to themselves thus creating a ‘trip wire’ effect with the leads. (Why is one dog not enough? And why bring your sodding dog out on a day trip that consists entirely of shopping?)
  • People with specific mobility problems. (Not normal mobility problems. That is manageable. People with mobility problems may walk slowly, but at least their pace is predictable. People with specific mobility problems are only able to walk for 20 yards before stopping suddenly to look around them, presumably because the view suddenly becomes utterly compelling. They stand stock still, look around, block your way and then start up again. And then they do the same bloody thing another 20 yards down the road.)
  • People who can only walk 4 abreast on the pavement, despite its narrowness and the throng of people making this virtually impossible.
  • People who eat pies from a paper bag whilst walking. (Please note: this is both bad for your digestion and bad for the people walking behind you, as it propels you into the ‘people with specific mobility problems’ category. Find a fucking bench and sit down to eat.)
  • People – mostly men, it has to be said – who have been dragged along by somebody else and hang around outside shops/market stalls blocking the way and looking like piffey on a rock bun.

Good Friday is the day when these people return in packs. And I have to take a huge deep breath, because I know that this will last until at least late September. Thank god that today was dry, because when they all get their brollies out I turn apoplectic. So if you live in Rochdale and someone offers you a coach trip to a ‘quaint Yorkshire market town’, please think of me and just say no.

P.S. You may ignore me. I am a curmudgeonly old so-and-so sometimes. Most of the citizens of my small town will welcome you with open arms. Honest.


swimmer6foot4 said...

Well, you have my sympathy, MsM. In York this week would mark the beginning of the crocodile season (those long lines of school children that would follow one of the teachers down Stonegate - another following up behind). I believe it's now crocodile season throughout the year there. Strangely, Hackney doesn't suffer this problem, tee hee.

However, I hate it when people are walking along the footpath in front of me and their mobile phone goes off so they suddenly stop dead in their tracks to look at the phone's screen. No "look behind" or "stand to the side" or "wait 'til it's handy to read it". Oh no! It's "my phone has made a noise so I am going to do the pedestrian equivalent of an emergency stop and bugger the consequences for anyone behind me". And as for cyclists on pavements, yikes, I could rant for England.

Sorry, MsM, I know this is your blog (and one of these days I will get round to writing something original on mine) but I feel so much better after sharing that rant!

Hey, look! No links!

Dandelion said...

Why have a sodding dog anyway, I want to wonder.

I feel your pain though. I don't think they're mobility-impaired, I think they're considerateness-impaired.

What would be REALLY GREAT would be if people could be somehow educated in pavement-awareness, to have respect for fellow users. I attempt this on a case-by-case basis, time permitting. Otherwise I just say "Selfish!" or "Inconsiderate!" very clearly in the direction of any culprit. That'll teach 'em!

Dandelion said...

And as for "emergency-stoppers", I just make sure I bump into them, and then I do an exasperated sigh, or say "ow" so that they say sorry, and realise what they've done.

The Moon Topples said...

I share your disdain for tourists, but only recently discovered that I can apparently retain this feeling when I am actually a tourist myself.

My trip abroad was educational in many ways...

Sorry your town is infested. Chicago, for some reason, is thronging with them all year long, although they primarily keep to the areas they are supposed to. I can't imagine what would lure someone here during the winter months, but lured they are. They don their shirts festooned with our skyline and take pictures of the rest of us going about our lives.

At times, I envy them.

I have no idea why I have written so much here. Other than my tendency to ramble.

My tendency to ramble began when i was...

trousers said...

I have been using the term "Pavement Rage" for a couple of years now. I'm sick of being bumped into, blocked, pushed to one side or any other manner of actions by the ignorant or downright inconsiderate.

So its somehow comforting to read your post, and the comments in the thread, of which I'm in full agreement! I could rant for England too on this. Pavement Rage might not be the most accurate term - since it suggests that all of us are somehow irrational, with hair trigger responses of verbal abuse or temper to any incursion (perceived or actual) onto our path. This is obviously not the case - I KNOW myself to be perfectly rational and not prone to such things.

Most of the time anyway.

One example was when in a shopping centre in Nottingham. A man was walking more or less by my side, and then walked straight across my path without warning. Guess what? He tripped over. Not because I purposely tripped him, but because that's what happens if you walk right over somebody's feet. When he picked himself off the floor, he stood and stared at me. I stood and stared back for a few moments, then just slowly shook my head and walked off.

*stops writing because he feels his blood beginning to boil*

nmj said...

Pavement rage is a great Edinburgh you have pavement rage from now til Autumn, peaking during the festival; and those who walk and stop and walk and stop don't have mobility problems, they are just stupid. As someone who doesn't exactly speed-walk herself, you'd think I'd have empathy, but no, I just want to kill them.

Anonymous said...

I think I recognise that clock tower, it strikes me that your Good Friday is not quite as fraught as being a local on an alcohol fuelled 'Race Day'.

Ms Melancholy said...

Ah, Ad, this is not actually where I live, but another similar Dales town. I don't want to give too much away!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Swimmer, I also lived in York for 4 years, and I distinctly remember the crocodile season. I also lived in Hackney for 3 years. I wonder if we know each other??! Yes, the mobile phone thing is particularly annoying, isn't it? Glad that you understand me!

Hi Dandelion, I am in total agreement with the 'pavement awareness' lessons. It gets to me just as much as inconsiderate road users. I like your technique, by the way. We are so conditioned to say 'sorry' if someone bumps into us, aren't we? This is a peculiarly British thing, I think.

Hi Mr Moon, you are very welcome to ramble as much as you like. I feel very validated! I think I am now an over-considerate tourist when I visit a place. I am very careful not to get in the way of people going about their daily business. Too much so. It irritates my husband that I am over-aware of my 'visitor' status.

Hi Trousers, yes, Pavement Rage is a good term. I am glad I'm not the only one who feels this. Sometimes I worry that I am utterly intolerant when outside of the therapy room. Bizarrely, as a therapist I am genuinely tolerant of all sorts of difficult behaviours and rarely work on a confrontational level. But generally I like a good rant. Please feel free to join me.

Hi nmj, you have my total sympathy. Edinburgh must be a nightmare at times, and Fringe season must make you want to emigrate for a month. And I agree with you on the 'walking/stopping' syndrome. I am very tolerant of people with mobility problems, or buggies, or even double buggies, or wheelchairs.... but just randomly stopping makes my blood boil.

Sometimes I feel like a total cow. But so glad I am not the only one.

Caroline said...

Being from Tyneside and having been on many quaint Yorkshire market town tours, I will now offer you my apologies. I have probably been spotted eating 4 pies from a paper bag whilst walking with my 35 dogs and my family 7 abreast on your pavement.
Next time I'll look out for you and say hi.

I should leave my comment there.
Please don't get me started on tourists in Chester.
Please don't.

austin said...

Got to confess to being the recipient of some "pavement rage" that totally floored me.

I had taken my 18 monther all the way to New York to meet her only cousin (and Mum was having first adventure post baby baby time). We are walking down Madison Ave, me pushing the stroller, when kid gestured that she was thirsty so I stopped to pass the water (must mention that the pavement had decent width), when the woman behind me said " What the f#*^!" and "Get Movin!".
She must have had it up to here with tourists but I was amazed at her anger. I said some basic swear word as a friendly reply and that was that!

PS Glad that you are tolerant of those with "buggies"! (which I have translated to mean "stroller"?!")

Anonymous said...

Ah, the perils of living in the Dales, tourists, day trippers, caravan fanatics in convoys that dawdle, shop-lifters, school trippers looking for a place to have a sly ciggie and alcopop, locally brewed ale consumed in rather large amounts by punters on a day out, stop off, to or from one of the many Race Courses that festoon North Yorkshire...

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Caroline, apology accepted! But I need to know - have you ever been very drunk on locally brewed ale in a market square? If so, you need to apologise again, I'm afraid. Mmm yes, Chester. I have been known to take the odd day trip there myself....

Hi Austin, yes there is another side to all this isn't there? Yes, by the way, a buggy is a stroller. I am perfectly tolerant of parents with buggies - small children locked in houses alone is not something I am advocating. However, you have reminded me of another example of my pedestrian rage: parents who let very small children walk down long flights of stairs, one step at a time, because little Johnny refuses to be carried thus causing a queue of immense proportions behind him. I can get cross just thinking about it.

Hi again ad, oh god, those bloody caravans! I don't mind sheep, cattle, tractors or hay trailers but get stuck behind a caravan for 5 miles and I am ready to burst. And people getting drunk during the day in the market square. And - and this is by far the worst - people wearing inappropriate clothing on a hot day, just because they are on their holiday. I do not want to see women in bikini tops or men with no shirt on walking down the high street. It really pisses me off. Oh dear, I think I need a lie down. I am really starting to rant.

brumcunian said...

I live in Manchester. Around here there is the annual student invasion in September. You've had a lovely summer chilling out in beer gardens in Fallowfield with your mates while the students have gone back to mommy and daddy.

Then freshers week rolls around. Getting a bus to town takes three times as long because first year uni students pile on to the bus and then ask dumb questions like 'what stop do I need for uni', 'how much is it' (when the bus has a big advert on its side saying fallowfield to university 50p), and the classic 'how do I make the bus stop'. Surely these retards have used a bus before in their lives. But then again maybe not.

Then there's the gay village being packed out with students either on a guided tour with uni LGB group or just a bunch of girls out to have a nosey while simultaneously being loud obnoxious and unable to hold their drink. Or my personal favourite... students that are new to the city harassing you for directions because you seem to look like you know where you are going.

I take great delight in sending freshers miles out of their way in the wrong direction. It's my way of education them to not be overly familiar with people in a big city. That and the fact that it amuses me. Ms M you have my sympathy. Tourists and students are a nightmare!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi again Brum, hey, guess what? I used to live in Manchester too! Don't be too hard on the students though - it's not their fault the poor things have never used a bus before! (I was a student there, but on a post-grad course so I am sure I wasn't one of the annoying ones ;)

cusp said...

Personally I think most people, unless I decree otherwise following a face to face interview, should be forced to stay where they are.

This includes:

all the elderly people who come to Asda every Thursday in coaches from outlying villages and then freeze at various points in an aisle.

all the elderly and infirm people who still insist in blocking up the Post Office on Thursdays because it's pension day.

all tourists who come to my present place of abode to look at the quaint architecture

all the tourists who came to my former place of abode to admire the seaside and the shops and then blocked the whole town from 5-7.30p.m. because there was only one way in and out via the level crossing

all people who work for or shop in my local CoOp who have the IQ of a dim gnat and observe a chip and pin card with a drooling horror so that everyone else in the queue has to wait an extra 15 minutes while they figure out what to do with it and remember four numbers to authorise their purchase of two own brand packets of kitty nibbles and a pack of low sugar orange squash

all people who run a small business and decide to bring in their weeks takings in small change just before I was about to get in front of them in the queue

I've said enough and I'm ranting

Quick someone.....find me a
psychotherapist !

anticant said...

When I was little, I was taught to look where I was going. This obviously doesn't happen any more. Why not?

Sorry, Ms M, but as a Northener exiled in London I find it hard to empathise with someone who has the good fortune to live in the Yorkshire countryside and is melancholy. As a fellow therapist, dare I suggest that you should be more confrontational more often? Not only can it help the client to move on, it's also great for raising one's own spirits when it works!

As for all those lousy trippers, they'll soon be gone at the rate global warming is progressing...

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh Cusp, you have it worse than me! I fear you may have to find yourself a therapist after all... thanks for visiting x

Hi anticant, thanks for visiting too. You have my sympathy - exiled in London would drive me mad these days, although I liked it well enough when I lived there. I said that I rarely work at a confrontational level, not that I don't confront. (Am I being very pedantic?) This was really a shorthand way of saying that I am really not this intolerant as a therapist! I agree - if I understand you correctly - that the therapist's job is to 'disturb' not to 'smooth over' and that a mode of confrontation is necessary for this to happen. I prefer to look for the internal dissonance, and wait for the inevitable relational rupture, rather than make direct confrontations of a process, however. My first therapist was particularly confrontational, and I still bear the scars! Thanks for commenting. Hope to see you again.

Misslionheart said...

I'm a Lancashire Lass, but lived for a few years in the Dales. Airton actually. Would I be right in thinking this place begins with S?

We used to drive across the Moors to the market there. I think I remember a cafe called 'The Naked Man'??

la-que-sabe said...

Oh Ms. M! You have, again, hit the nail on the head. Whereas, perhaps, you might have been better hitting a tourist on the head - perhaps you could cause a domino effect and then you could use their toppled bodies as a path to your sarnie shop? (Or perhaps that's just me being nasty?)

We have hoards of tartan trousered, sun-visored, loud Americans in Dublin every summer, coming to find their roots. Of course, to be fair, we have people from almost every nation cluttering up the streets while they attempt to find out where great grandpa Seamus lived, but the Americans are definitely the worst. It incites almost all Dubliners to murder. The only exceptions are the store owners who make their living selling expensive bright green tat to tourists as souvenirs. Ick.

Clare said...

Hahaha, having grown up in York I know exactly what you mean. You're trying to do your shopping, and everyone else is stopping suddenly, standing still and looking up. Or walking v e r y s l o w l y.

Most annoying!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Misslionheart, - Airton, you lucky thing! A very beautiful place indeed. And yes, you are in the right direction!

Hey lqs, yes, we get those too in summer! I feel a bit mean moaning about tourists to be honest - I really don't mind well-behaved tourists. It is bad pavement manners that I have a problem with. Unfortunately they so often go hand in hand. You have my sympathy though, having spent a weekend in Dublin once. It was heaving and very expensive.

Hi Clare, yes, I think York is the uber tourist honey pot. Those cobbled streets are not designed for crocodiles of children, are they?

rivergirlie said...

what a delicious piece of social anthropology (with a hint of misanthropy)! i've observed all these in sunny stratford upon avon - my home town - which, from about march until the end of october is clogged with the types you describe, plus a heavy infestation of french school trips. quite a cocktail!