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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Why do boys always feel the need to explain things to me? I was standing in the kitchen last night whipping up a culinary delight that included not just one but two types of fresh vegetable, along with my dietary staple of quorn and also some rice for extra excitement, and I while I was doing all of this whipping, I was making polite conversation with one of my housemates, who was standing in the kitchen for no particular reason talking to me. Now, I enjoy small talk just as much as the next person when you’re trapped in a lift or underground, but in the comfort of my own home, I want idle gossip, bitching or information exchange – small talk does not float my boat when I’m standing where I rent. But he was insisting upon this, and so I played along if only for an easier life.

I commented to him that, that morning, for the first time since I’d moved to London, I had been on a tube that got stuck in a tunnel (not actually stuck, they’re built so that they can fit neatly through the tunnels you understand, but another train in front of us had broken down, and so we had nowhere to go for the 10 minutes it took to shunt the train forward and let us in to the next platform so that we could breathe the sweet, sweet oxygen once more). My flatmate, instead of tutting in the manner almost obligatory when discussing the underground system here, and saying things about how inefficient it is, when in fact we all know it’s an astonishing system that works incredibly well, and what’s 10 minutes in a tunnel anyway… instead of launching in to the traditional response, my flatmate started telling me about the history of the tube.

Now, it might not be common knowledge, but I certainly know a thing or two about the tube already, having been in relations with a certain someone who used to work for London Underground and who has an unhealthy fascination with machinery (specifically space machinery, but also trains and trams and things on tracks). I already know about when the tubes were made, and the budget restrictions, and how they work, and why it gets so hot, and which ones are further underground. I know which station has the longest escalator, which is the deepest underground, which was first built, which is most recent… And although I tried to communicate that to my flatmate, he had taken that expression that all boys get when they’ve started explaining something to me. It’s like My Fair Lady, and they’re teaching me to say “Spain”.
So I stirred my vegetables and prepared a side salad while he regaled me with information I already knew, and then nodded and said something like “that explains that, then”, which is what you should always say to boys when they’re explaining things to them, because it makes it feel like a job well done.


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