Monday, June 05, 2006

What's the point?


I just had my first session of Auricular Acupuncture. After some initial hitches it was a very calming and positive experience. The trouble was the my left ear rejected the needles. Apparently this can happen occasionally, as I was reassured by the practitioner as the first one sprung to my shoulder. When it happened again two minutes later she definitely looked at me oddly, as if I might have a clue how to achieve such a thing deliberately.

I was troublesome again when I left. She handed me a cotton ball, stating that occasionally there are a "few drops" of blood. Then I felt this peculiar warm wet feeling in my ear, and just as I was telling myself calmly that this must be some sort of nice acupuncture after glow, the blood started dripping on to my sweatshirt, notebook and pen. Most alarming. I felt her alarm too and tried to reassure her - ears do bleed a lot proportionally - but she was clearly perturbed. Half a dozen cotton balls and some sustained pressure later I was good to go. Bet she hopes I'm not coming back.

Just prior to the session I had the de rigeur conversation with someone I meet regularly. How will you get Here from There? How long does the train take? Where does it stop? How much does it cost? When is the last one? They nod, almost sympathetically ... oh, that's not too bad then ... and I find myself too embarrassed to admit that, actually, I really like trains. I feel this is like confessing some dark submissive fantasy, because I know that to step aboard a train is to invite kidnap.

"So sorry I'm late. I was taken hostage by the Northern Line."

I can't remember who said this to me, but it feels ohSoTrue.

And sometimes I am an unwilling hostage, plotting escape routes and damning my captors, but mostly I have Stockholm Syndrome - perversely grateful for the one-track-minded convictions of the driver of the 14.02 to the Where I need to be.

Freedom in accepting rules and boundaries I guess.

My trains of thought can feel much the same, taking me hostage and whisking me to a place where I may arrive late but never early. As passenger I adopt the same range of attitudes as on the Real Train; counter-terrorist, co-operative, or a tricky third way - appear passive and willing whilst fantasising escape and rescue. Door number 3 seems only to lead back to the waiting room from which I chose it. I am unsure at this juncture whether to vow to stop wasting time with this circular route or embrace it as some sort of holding pattern, useful for getting the timing right. Waiting outside the station for an empty platform ... arriving only so that I can leave again.

Leaving. The word seems so loaded at the moment for many different reasons that I won't be boring you with. In leaving London I have suddenly begun to see it, hear it, taste it, in a way that I haven't (ever? ) for a long time. In the acupuncture room a CD of seaside noises and gentle chords played soothing sounds, and in the background it was accompanied by a pneumatic drill, traffic, sirens and the chatter of the chinese community doing whatever it is that they do so well. In London these sounds barely register. I suspect in the new place they would feel more intrusive.

Speaking of intrusion, I enjoy the privacy that multiple languages enforce. The sound of non-english voices is so much more common in my everyday encounters with People that I find conversations I comprehend quite bothersome. They crowd into my brain, and I am worried that I will miss the luxury of being around people communicating with each other without having to hear their stories. I guess perhaps I hear their stories in a different way - take more from gestures, expressions, breaths and sighs and gasps, but I don't have to cringe over their private details or at my own pedantic objections to the misuse of my favourite words.

So. Today London is in technicolour, surround sound and complete with 3D glasses. On my return home I took the dog to the park where she chased a squirrel, and this strange chuckle came out of the tree, sounding precisely like the crazy woman in little britain. Any one know what kind of bird would make that noise?

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