Tuesday, 3 July 2012

I'm not so good with heights


I'm writing this sitting in Starbucks. I've turned into one of those people.  You know - the ones who write things in Starbucks.  On a laptop.

There was only a short queue this morning, away from the serving bit, along the counter.  There were three of us standing in the queue, and then one woman - who was American but that's not revelant - who stood in the middle of the floor vaguely near the till.  When someone in the queue pointed out that there was a queue she said "Yes, I know, and I'm in it".  She thus placed a moral obligation on those of us in the queue to remember her virtual place in the queue and cede our turn to be served when it came to the right moment.  Indidivually it's quite a hard task to remember her place in the queue, but we only needed to collectively achieve that effect - so individually we didn't need to remember her place in the queue, but simply remember whether she was in front of us or behind us.  Though not even that.  Those of us in front of her didn't need to remember anything at all, but the person "behind" her in the queue would just need to remember that she was just in front of them.  Those behind that person don't need to remember anything else.  So instead of us all having to remember her position in the queue, we've reduced it to one person remembering a simple fact.

Anyway, I'm sitting in Starbucks.  We've established that.  In fact, I'm sitting quite near to the window.  It's 8.30am and there are people walking by with their heads down - exactly as I did earlier to the Union protestor on Fleet St who tried to shove a leaflet in my hand to tell me why bus drivers deserve £500 for working during the Olmypics but don't get me started - and just trying to get to their desks with the minimum of human interaction on the way.  I tend to be pretty good with faces - I am quick to spot people I recognise even if I've not seen them for a long time.  I see hundreds of faces pass me on my way to work each day, and occassionally recognise a few.  But how I recognise people mostly is through their walk.  I can't describe or copy the walk of people I know, but even at a long distance - presuming I have my glasses on - I can recognise someone by the way they hold themselves and the way they move as they walk.  I can't be the only person to do that, surely?

I may be good with gaits, but I'm terrible with heights.  I could tell you what colour hair my friends have, even what colour eyes they have in some cases, but I couldn't tell you how tall they are.  More than once in recent weeks I've suddenly noticed that someone I know pretty well is taller than me.  I have an idea in my mind how tall people are but, without giving details which may insult those involved, I tend to base that on how I think of them, rather than how tall they actually are.

Talking of heights, we went on the Emirates Airline last Saturday. Highly recommended. Oh, and don't bother queuing for a ticket - just use your PAYG Oyster card on the barriers...

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