Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Vigilant Idiot

"Be a bit vigilant," I suggested to you all last Friday. Advice, like criticism, is clearly something I can give but not take.

The time: approximately 08:48. The date: today, Tuesday, 24 May. The place: Northern Line carriage, northbound. I am leaning against a glass partition, listening to Alexander by Alexander, and playing a game on my phone. There is not enough room for me to extract my book from my overflow bag and certainly no space to annotate. I am reading Becker's Pullitzer Prize winning The Denial of Death and it requires annotating. So iJewels it is.

At Bank, there is always an exodus, but today's is even more pronounced than usual. Out of the corner of my eye, it appears that there are four vacant seats behind me, the other side of the partition, two facing two. A woman walks towards one of them. Without pausing iJewels, I swivel around the edge of the partition and reverse into another.

It is not vacant.

I have lowered myself into someone's lap.

It is the funniest thing I HAVE EVER DONE. I squeal, leap up and turn around. My victim is a diminuitive Asian female, probably in her mid-thirties, wearing headphones. She is finding it a bit funny but not really. The rest of the carriage is giggling quite a lot. I apologise with all the sincerity I can manage, while laughing uncontrollably. She gestures to the seat next to her, which does not appear to have anyone sitting in it. I get the message and lower myself down once again, thankfully without incident. My game of iJewels is a write-off.

It is nice to laugh. The worst fall-out from The Incident has been at night - I couldn't get to sleep before 4 or 5am, and when I did doze off, I dreamed bad things. On Sunday night I woke up early due to a full-blown panic attack, my hands round my neck, unable to breathe properly for several minutes, lots of asthmatic-style wheezing. Fun fun fun! But last night (Monday) I popped a Melatonin and slept right through. Today I feel like a new woman.

The days have been largely OK - I've just kept myself busy and, if I do remember what happened, I just remind myself how much worse it could have been. I do think it's clever, though, that despite my conscious mind's failure to maintain Red Alert, my unconscious is still doing its job. I was in Paperchase on Sunday picking out a birthday card, totally focused on the task at hand: the mugging couldn't have been further from my mind. But suddenly I felt something brush past me and I leapt as if I'd been tasered. I gasped, whipped around and my potential attacker revealed herself as a four year old in an elaborate princess dress. Similar things have happened several times - a lady stood on a plastic bag yesterday on the pavement and it burst surprisingly loudly - jaded city-girl that I am, I'd normally not even reacted, but yesterday I jumped melodramatically to one side and squealed like a TOWIE cast-member receiving a BAFTA. Clearly, although I've reverted to my casual self on the surface, there's still a good bit of heightened awareness bubbling away underneath. No wonder I can't sleep without 'erbal assistance.

Anyway, the long and short of it is this: thank you all for your kind messages of support. It's meant a lot. And I feel a great deal better as a result. You don't need to worry about me, I'm alive and lap-dancing. Let normal service resume.

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