Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Trolley Cases, Drug of the Nation

I was introduced to my latest pet hate by my friend Alex but I’m being honest when I say I’d been feeling it on a subconscious level for a while. Alex just brought it into my consciousness and articulated it for me. I don’t feel guilty for appropriating his revulsion because I genuinely feel it myself. And so will anyone who has ever had to walk behind a particular type of person at a railway station or airport whilst hoping to move slightly more rapidly than a soporific Koala.

On Friday evening we were standing outside that pub that’s next to the platforms in Kings Cross Station when he pointed it out. Around every tenth person was pulling a suitcase behind them. A fine innovation in the field of hand luggage was the addition of wheels to a suitcase. Suitcases are often heavy and so this facility can be invaluable. These suitcases came first with a strap with which to pull them but the next innovation made the pulling easier and this was the retractable rigid handle.

The suitcases we saw at Kings Cross station were suitcases in form, sure, but they were mainly tiny. I've since discovered that they're called trolley cases and they're not a million miles removed from those bags that you see old women pulling behind them in the poorer parts of town, often decorated with a tartan of some description. The old women quite often smell of urine but that's neither here nor there right now. We’re talking about vessels that would struggle to house more than a couple of loaves of bread without having to really squeeze them and render them useless for sandwich making. They were generally smaller than the fairly dainty bag I was carrying on my shoulder, I swear people were pulling laptop-bag sized suitcases around behind them. Now I’m a live-and-let-live kinda guy and I believe people should be able to wear or carry whatever they please regardless of how stupid or pointless the accoutrement might be. It was only the next day, returning home after an enjoyable drunken night out, that I realised that these suitcases are an evil part of today’s society.

I disembarked from the underground train at Paddington Station and began the walk to the mainline train that would take me home. Ahead of me was a woman carrying, sorry, pulling a very small suitcase behind her. She headed towards the stairs. I followed and this is what happened:

She stopped at the foot of the stairs and pushed the retractable handle into the suitcase. She then picked up her suitcase and carried it up the stairs. At the top of the stairs she stopped, put her bag down, pulled out the handle and continued along the footbridge. At the end of the footbridge is the set of stairs that takes you back down to the other side of the platform. Before it she stopped, pushed the handle back in to the suitcase, picked the suitcase up and walked down the stairs towards the little horizontal walkway that comes before the stairs continue downwards. She went through the same sequence of actions a couple more times and each time she stopped the rage inside me built up a little further until I almost had to tell her at high volume and very close to her face exactly how anti-social her behaviour was. Which would have been ironic, I know.

I realised that this was something that had been making me angry for a few years but I was just putting it down to the bad mood that crowds of people in stations generally put you in. But it can all be avoided. What is wrong with us? Are we so lazy and pathetic and generally fucking useless that for many of us the effort of carrying a small bag is too great? And is it just a coincidence that many of these people are so self-absorbed that they don't even notice that they are getting in the way of other people going about their day? For me, these small suitcases are symptomatic of plenty that is wrong with modern life. They demonstrate that we are a bunch of lazy, selfish bastards.

It's at this point that I'd normally qualify my above statements by saying that I understand why people need to do this and sorry if I've offended anyone 'cos I'm a nice guy yadda yadda yadda, but this time I won't. I suggest that anyone reading this should take a few moments to consider whether they've ever held anyone up at the bottom of an escalator to pull the retractable handle from their tiny suitcase. If you have then could you please take stock of your life and your place on this planet?


I actually had a fantastic weekend, believe it or not! I saw Delays on Thursday and the mighty Arcade Fire on Saturday with a Friday night of drunkenness and fun with friends thrown in as well. Delays, I've decided, are the best guitar pop band in the country. Every song is a proper pop gem without any of the pretensions that indie pop bands generally have, such as a baffling preoccupation with haircuts and shoes and Oasis and Paul Weller. Delays are aware that how cool your musical and fashion influences are is irrelevant, it's only the song that matters. It helps that the singer sounds fantastic.

Of the four times I've seen Arcade Fire this year this was my least favourite but this is no fault of the band. I was too far from the stage and was tired and had probably not calmed down from trolley case rage earlier in the day. Most importantly this wasn't a landmark gig for me - it wasn't the first time I'd seen them and it wasn't somewhere exotic like New York or, erm, Glastonbury. They were still magnificent. It's just a shame that it's now going to be two years before I get to see them again but absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that...

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