Saturday, 4 February 2012


The London Underground works by everyone on it acting as though there is no one else anywhere near them, even when (or especially when) they are jammed together so tightly that there's no need to hold on to the rails because there's nowhere to fall over into.  Every now and then what seems like a group of people just trying to get from one place to another suddenly displays some striking act of callousness.  It's not just the complete lack of sympathy for anyone who wants to kill themselves.  The other day someone was taken ill while I was on the District Line.  This was in the same carriage as me but at the other end.  I couldn't see very well but he looked in a bad way, collapsed on the floor and finding it hard to breathe.  The people near him pulled the emergency cord and asked around for a doctor.  The people near me were disgusted at this, furious at the delay to the journey, and kept asking why the man was not just moved onto the platform so that the rest of us could go on.  It was pretty revolting.

There's another sort of callousness in Devon.  A couple of weeks ago my mother mentioned to me that there were large numbers of baby rabbits around because of the unseasonably mild weather.  They won't have survived this cold snap.  I suppose that if they died above ground they will have been eaten by scavengers, a sort of windfall for the badgers, foxes and buzzards.  If they died below ground I expect they will be decomposed by smaller organisms, and the nutrients from their body might make it into plants and get back to the mother rabbits who put so much wasted biological effort into producing them.  People who live in the countryside are often far from sentimental about nature; when you spend a lot of time with nature you notice that nature is often pretty nasty.  In a way the human city callousness is almost preferable to this immense efficient use of death.

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