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Dreadful Nonsense

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

Yesterday, being an absolute glutton for punishment, I spent most of the day sitting at the back of a lecture room in Berkbeck College (which is a very pretty building, which Virginia Wolfe once lived nearby - yes, that's right, look impressed) listening to a Welsh man talking about cognitive psychology. For most of the time, I understood what he was talking about, but every so often, particularly during the morning session, I'd suddenly realise that for the last five minutes or so I'd pretty much been asleep, but with my eyes open and still taking notes of what he was saying. My notebook is filled with sentences that may or may not make any sense at all.

Therefore I was incredibly pleased when lunchtime came and meant that I could (a) sit outside and not listen to anyone speaking and (b) fill my blood with as much caffeine as I could imbibe in 45 minutes in order to stay awake for the afternoon session.

I took my massive, massive coffee with me to Tavistock Square and sat in the garden. It was lovely and sunny, but very very windy, which pleased me no end, because that meant that no one but me, some tramps and a million pigeons were sitting in the Square at lunchtime. I read some of The Guardian Weekend Magazine, which reaffirmed my world view and the noticed that, on the bench opposite me, someone had tied a jam jar filled with water to one of the side of the bench:

In my dramatically over tired state, I thought for a moment that there would be an obvious reason for this, and that I was just too exhausted for the meaning to be clear to me. I also thought that I could see something swimming around in it, so I went to have a closer look:

There was nothing swimming in it. I wasn't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed. I went back to my own bench, opposite the jam jar, and finished my massive coffee and read a bit more of The Guardian, which provided me with some left wing comfort in what is rapidly becoming a very confusing world for me.

Just as I was leaving to go get back to sitting and being slightly mystified (but very charmed) by what the lovely Welsh professor was trying to explain to me, one of the tramps that had been quietly sitting drinking something from a can came over and sat gently down beside the jam jar. He rustled around in his pockets for ages, and I sat very quietly, trying to pretend like I wasn't staring directly at him, fascinated by his next move.

Eventually, he took something out of his pocket, examined it in his hand for a moment, then very carefully dropped it into the jam jar without spilling a drop. Then he walked very slowly away, back to his other friends who were also having a liquid picnic on one of the benches further up the park.

I couldn't help myself. I had to look:

He had dropped 10p into the jam jar. For no discernible reason.

If anyone has any kind of explanation, either for the existence of the jam jar, the reason it was filled with water, the reason it was tied to a park bench, or the reason why the tramp gave it 10p, I'd be incredibly grateful.


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