Saturday, July 14, 2012

Update: Doloreta

I am sad to say that I learned my neighbour's name the other day. The husband signed for a package for her. It is apparently Kamila, which is a very nice name and I hope she does good things with it. I was not present when the package was signed for or collected, and I never saw the parcel or the person who collected it, so I am still none the wiser as to the shape of her face or demeanour.

I, however, am determined to keep referring to her as Doloreta, partly because I don't know how thick the walls are, really, and it makes it a lot less obvious that I'm talking about her if I use the assumed name, but mostly because I don't really want to think of her as someone with a real name or a real existence outside of my head. I know it isn't fair but as I still can't pick her face out of a line-up and still don't understand a word of what wafts through the open windows I want all of my thoughts with regard to her to remain a complete fiction. Maybe one day I'll develop a really comprehensive and exciting life for her and write it down in a book and make my millions. At the very least I want to keep Doloreta as my own, my pretend exciting neighbour who is even now carefully plotting the public humiliation of her vile ex-husband or covertly running a discrete brothel for the Polish Mafia.

Even the fact that Boy had to sign for a package for her is too much--now I know that she periodically leaves the house. I'll just edit that in the narrative to her napping and missing the doorbell, or having a stomach bug, or being too busy burying an apostate in the cellar to answer the door.

How Apt

I think there should be one of these, quite large, plastered on every train platform and bus shelter in London. Thank you, husband.

Monday, July 02, 2012


I have discovered a new and dangerous disease that seems to be sweeping through the citizens of London. Recently dubbed (in the past thirty seconds) Dysjanuasis, it is an astonishing disability to handle doorways.

I'm not suggesting British people are too fat to fit through doorways, or incapable of pushing, pulling, or turning knobs upon them, but rather they can't pass through them effectively. For many sufferers this extends to stairways, tunnels, bus stops, and sidewalks, but the effect is similar across all: you get to, just through, or just in front of the doorway and stop.

Why do you stop? Sometimes it is to rummage for a phone, or to tie your shoe. Other times it is simply to enjoy the fresh air, or curse the rain. Most often you have no reason whatsoever, and simply stand there, looking like a damp sock. Either way, you stop directly in the path of other people--sometimes hundreds of people--who need to pass through the door, or mount or descend the stairs, or get off the train, or on the bus, or move quickly down the platform or through the tunnel. More importantly, you stop directly in the path of people who are already moving, sometimes quite quickly, meaning they have to skid to a halt lest they knock you into the street, or down the stairs, or into the (often sizeable) gap between the platform and the train.

Among children, Dysjanuasis expresses itself through such symptoms as: temper tantrums, wiggling, wandering, glassy-eyed stupidity and/or fist-sucking confusion. Among adults, however, Dysjanuasis is asymptomatic with the exception of the doorway failure itself. Sufferers respond poorly to conventional treatments, such as being asked to move (side effects include: astonishment, hurt feelings, rude retorts, and in exceptional circumstances, starting fistfights), being shoved out of the way (side-effects: huffing, shouting, how-dare-you-ing, tutting, and simply failing to move out of the way despite the shove), being slammed headlong into (side effects: belligerence, wild accusations, further failure to move, and the impressively blind-minded "look where you're going, asshole"), and no treatment appears to have any lasting effect.

Therapies are usually begun in childhood but effectiveness of all approaches requires further study. While some parents adhere to the principle that instruction ultimately leads to independence ("move out of the way sweetie so the nice lady can get past you." "okay mommy" Life Lesson Learned!) others contend that regular instruction leads to a reliance upon further instruction ("Ow! Why did that lady trip over me?" "Maybe next time you'll get off the escalator at the appropriate time, schnookums.") so instruction should come through experience of consequences. Either way, neither approach has resulted in any measurable improvement in the condition, and indeed some sufferers may develop the condition spontaneously, or after years of therapy.

Will there ever be a cure? Is it deliberate? Is it a symptom of a larger condition? Am I ready to punch someone next time I get smushed in the train doors because I can't get off thanks to some slack-jawed idiot in flip flops with a handbag the size of Rhode Island, or trip over the crossed ankles of a suit nattering into his phone halfway down the stairs to the Tube? Science may never know.