Tolerance is a beautiful and commendable thing. There should be more of it – if there were I’m sure the world would be a better place. However we’re never going to reach such an ideal & placid utopian existence so long as the British Government fail to send out teams of exterminators to rid to world of bloody DAWDLERS, SPREADERS, STOPPERS and SWITCHERS.

At the risk of infringing on Oli‘s sacred blogging material, I cannot go another day without underlining my contempt for these 4 subgroups of the pedestrian kingdom.

Dawdlers: They just wander along at their own pace, oblivious to the fact that there’s other people around them. They seem similarly oblivious to the fact that the laws of composition of matter apply to them and as they are solids (rather than gases or liquids) they occupy a volume in space and other solids cannot (easily, without fear of recrimination) pass through them. The dawdler is most often found on London Underground platforms making their tedious & ponderous progress towards the light. I sometimes wish LU would install tube barriers that required some kind of minimum exit velocity in order to pass through so that dawdlers could be forced to hurry up. But of course LU are seemingly incapable of running the simple version of the ticket gate – I’d hate to impose complications on them.

Spreaders: Spreaders take dawdling to a new level. They customarily work in groups, although sometimes the really proficient ones work solo. They amble along like there’s nowhere to be, but in addition they spread themselves out horizontally so that no other bastard can get past. Their typical habitat seems to be Camden High Street, or any other stretch of pavement that I seem to be trying to progress along lately. Solo spreaders are somehow able to pick the optimum trajectory to take down a corridor so that there’s not quite room on either side to pass by.

Stoppers: The most unforgiveable scum sucking filth in the Underground are not the rats or mice, but the idiots who exit a train carriage onto a platform loaded with moving people and then stop dead still while they work out where they need to go. Often they’re carrying drag-behind suitcases or cellos – real experts can stop and gawp at the wall in such a way that the entire platform’s obstructed. Of course it’s difficult on a crowded platform, but surely human instinct can allegorise the tube platform to a river ? The fastest current’s out in the middle and the best place to stop is over at the bank ? Stoppers are insidious, because you often won’t see them coming – they’ll start surging forward (and thus marking themselves as not-a-dawdler), and then an idea will pop into that great empty bonce, and BANG! Dead stop.

Switchers: Anyone who’s ever driven along beside a hopping kangaroo knows how hazardous a thing that is, because they’ll suddenly decide to hop across the path of your car, but due to the speeds involved you’ll typically hit them. Switchers should therefore be forced to don tall pointy ears so that we at least know to look out for them. Switchers are the ones who don’t do a quich shoulder check first – they just career off in a different direction without any warning. Seriously, ever since my 2nd time driving (at the age of 17, when I nearly forced a guy out into oncoming traffic on Fullarton Road and almost made my Mum say a swear word) I’ve given a quick checking glance over my shoulder to see what’s behind me before changing direction, be it on foot, in car, flying gliders, swimming – you name it ! The above-ground variety of the switcher typically comes with a mobile phone stuck to their ear, and this typically guarantees that their head is pointing away from the direction they intend to travel in.

It’s not particularly uncommon – especially with Switchers and Stoppers – to go crashing into the back of them. What gets me *every* time is the phrase that comes out of their mouths when it happens. Trust me, I’ve run into a few people over my life, and it’s no word of a lie when I tell you they have *all* said the same thing.


The merits of having a chauffeur are fast becoming apparent to me.

2006-01-30 : If I had a hammer…
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