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Friday 28th November 2008

This morning, I wrote a treatment for a new idea called "Try Not To Be a Prick All Your Life." It's a look at the pointless selfish acts that people carry out every day and whether it is possible to make our country more polite again. You know I'm obsessed with poor gym etiquette and lazy littering, but I am also aware of my own foibles and prickdom. I still chuck my used chewing gum on to the tube tracks, but would I do that if I had a better understanding of the lives of the poor sods who had to clear it up? I am almost more bothered about these petty things, than the bigger problems of crime, violence and murder, but only in the sense that most of the ways we dick up other people's lives in a small way are totally avoidable and easy to rectify and yet still all of us (at some point) will be the prick. Life is hard enough for us all, without putting little mental land mines in the way of everyone else. An antisocial act can ruin your day and make you more miserable and less caring yourself. Wouldn't it make this horrible world a bit better if we could just be nicer to each other on this basic level? Especially when our actions benefit no one. And maybe we could try and make up for the times when we've been a prick by doing a few good deeds in recompense. Catholics will sit around and say Hail Marys when they have sinned, but I wonder if that's a bit self-indulgent and self-involved. Wouldn't that time be more productively used if when we've sinned we actually got off our arses and did physically did something to make up for it. If I was God (and maybe I am, so watch out all you religious people who get narked off whenever I point out how flawed your logic is and how ultimately selfish you are - cos maybe I am testing you) I'd be happier to see people trying to do things to rectify their mistakes, rather than praying to me and saying sorry, when I obviously don't even exist.
So these things have been mulling around in my mind for a while and I know that I am probably pissing in the wind, because maybe we're just all rude fuckers and there's nothing that can be done, but I wonder if there's room for a Jamie Oliver style campaign to improve the nation and point out how childish and self-defeating we are being.
The incident that really brought this home to me and gave me the idea happened a few weeks ago. I was driving round Shepherd's Bush Grey and had stopped at the traffic lights opposite the tube whilst pedestrians crossed. Most people had got across the road, but one man started crossing later than the others. He was technically within his rights. He had started crossing just before the green man started flashing, but only just. He was the only pedestrian in the road and the drivers in the cars started edging forwards to get on their ways. But the man, enjoying his sense of power, looked towards us with his big moon face slightly beaming and noticeably slowed down his pace. He had this supercilious look on his face, which clearly said, "I think you'll find the right of way is mine and I intend to make the most of it." How pointless and annoying was this?
Had he just ever so slightly quickened his step then we'd all have appreciated his gesture and got on with our lives, but here he was just making our days ever so slightly more difficult and enjoying the feeling of power. But of course if you have to do something like this to have a sense of potency then you are really demonstrating how weak and petty you are. Even a few weeks later his stupid, chubby, grinning face is etched into my memory. He was lucky none of the drivers he was inconveniencing were a bit more unstable as he might well have been run over by the cars he was forcing to brake. He got slower and slower and carried on smiling and I actually wound down the window to tell him he was a prick. He had made me riled and angry and all for nothing. And what had he gained? Some self-satisfaction from knowing he had left a slightly shitty stain on someone else's day.
I think I have been that prick on a different occasion. But seeing someone else doing it and realising how ridiculous they looked made me determined to never be that kind of prick again. I suppose if I could do a show that would hold up the mirror of prickdom to people who throw rubbish out of their car, or leave their towels on the floor or play their mp3 players without headphones on the bus, then maybe they will realise how annoying and petty they're being and mend their ways.
You may call me a dreamer... and I might be the only one in this case.

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