Teesside Snog Monster (jiggery_pokery) wrote,
Teesside Snog Monster

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An ordinary trip into town

Walked into town today. It was dry on the way into town. Along the way, I was reminded of the saying which I may misremember as "Perform senseless acts of kindness and random acts of beauty". I thought about randomly picking litter off the streets, decided against it, but decided to smile at everyone I met on that trip. So I did. It ended up being a fairly fixed sort of smile, rather than a deliberate sort of particular I've-made-the-effort-to-smile smile, but everyone got it. Even the clearly underage kids who were smoking, drinking whisky from a bottle and saying "me mam's going to kick me out 'cos I was selling fucking ecstacy" got a smile, but their smile was from a distance because they made me feel uncomfortable.

Reached town. Purchased a sandwich, inevitably from Hungry Jacks. A new lady served me; I didn't recognise her, she didn't offer me extra cheese or coleslaw (an upsell of 40p!), she clearly was less fluent than the others and she piled all the salad up into the middle of the bun. All the same, I was very polite. I then bought a copy of the local newspaper, the Evening Gazette from a newsagent; a lady with a walking-stick asked me to pick up a newspaper from the bottom shelf for me, so I did so as politely as I could. I sat outside in the gardens next to the town hall, which were unusually crowded; many people were flowing out of the Magistrate's Courts nearby and I overheard one of them mention "bomb scare".

On the way home, I saw that one of the empty lots on the outside of a shopping centre had temporarily been taken over by the Cleveland College of Art and Design for an exhibiton called "What Makes You Smile?". I had seen this from the outside yesterday, when it was closed; possibly this had subconsciously put me in a smiling mood. I went in; at the entrance level was a vestibule introducing the exhibition, a table with leaflets on it and a guestbook. The guestbook asked people to write in what made them smile, so inevitably I started thinking about some bon mots to put in there. (Why are bon mots not bons mots?)

Upstairs, in a generic gutted shop, there were portrait photographs lined up along the walls. Each had a sticker underneath naming the photographer, the subject and what the subject had said made them smile. A particular favourite was a photo of a large councillor, because a local MP had answered "the ridiculous nature of local government", and another was a man with a fantastic assortment of tattoos, piercings and other body art (not least "FUCK U" tattooed on the inside of his lower lip, which he showed off with pride) who claimed that little budgies made him smile. (longsunday, superfi and any Teesside lurkers out there, the exhibition probably isn't worth a visit to Middlesbrough on its own, but it is worth a look while you're already here. It'll be at the Cleveland Centre until the 22nd, then the Dorman Museum from June 3rd to September 7th.)

There was also a photographer there taking snaps of people with proper lighting. (Theoretically our photos might be used in a later exhibition and/or put on the Internet. We were also invited to buy copies of the photos from a particular camera shop, which set my "aha, commercial" detector tingling.) A photographer named Steve took two of me; I kept my mouth shut for the first, but opened it to show the world my big teeth for the second. The first photo didn't come out, but the second one worked surprisingly well. I felt I looked OK in it - my hair was mostly in place and I didn't have chicken tikka stains around my mouth. It might actually be worth buying a copy for Mum, simply because there isn't a good recent casual photo of me. Then one of the lady students took my details and asked me what made me smile. I said "My Friends," - and you'll understand the silent capital! - "making a difference, surreal conversations, naughty thoughts... and you." The last of these had to be said, really. Happily we were both smiling and laughing as she took the details down, and she did reply "I can make you cry, too..." - but, hey, she's got my phone number!

Walked home, smiling on the way back. It started to rain, but I had an umbrella with me and so remained dry. I managed to get one definite smile back, from a girl who looked about ten years old and had a wide face. I also found one girl who challenged me back with eye contact and laughed dismissively after I passed. (No smile there.) Someone else pulled up their car beside me and asked for a set of directions; happily it was to South Cleveland Hospital, which is famous and isn't small, so I was able to give a really clear set of directions. I only hope they were correct!

Also walking home, I was reminded that on my recent trip to Cambridge, while waiting in Milton Keynes for my connection, I did the "50 things that make me happy in 20 minutes" non-meme going round.
  • Games

  • Ideas

  • Listening to the rain while I'm inside

  • Naughty thoughts

  • Seeing bodies doing unusual things you wouldn't expect they could

  • "P~" (coy shorthand for "the pornographic version of the above")

  • Ducks

  • Pandas

  • Cuddling

  • Systems

  • Numbers, especially 23 and 47 (born on the 23rd, longer story behind 47)

  • Maps

  • The London Underground, its map and its extensions

  • Friends

  • Jokes

  • Fanfic

  • Overhearing other people talking about things they like

  • Nice surprises

  • Doing things well

  • Winning prizes for doing things well

  • Getting something for nothing

  • Improving, particularly at shaving

  • Snow

  • Sliding

  • Bouncing

  • Well-developed arguments

  • Elections

  • Peter Snow

  • Tastes

  • Textures

  • Colours

  • Telling someone who thinks that they're funny that they aren't if I don't think so (NB turnabout is fair play, so do do this back to me as appropriate)

  • Sport

  • Good ideas in sporting organisation

  • Airports

  • Discovery

  • The Forbidden Corner (a spectacular but little-known folly garden in North Yorkshire)

  • Attractive faces

  • Conquering fears

  • Kind people

  • Logos

  • Darkness

  • Dreams

  • Repetition making things funny

  • Concidences

  • Compactness and efficiency

  • Secrets

  • Smiles

  • Technology and prosperity

  • New buildings

  • Manchester Piccadilly railway station

  • Interests lists

  • LiveJournal, the prospects that it brings and its neat interconnectedness

  • Past achievements

  • Comeuppances

  • Familiarity

  • Fantasies

  • The concept of the Mind Sports Olympiad

  • Seeing people once a year and becoming friendly with them

  • Books with interesting information

  • Singing

  • Game music

  • Cooking well (probably, more specifically, having well-cooked food served to me)

  • Glamour

  • illegible (I suspect it means "Dinner jackets" but it could just as easily be "Daydreams")

  • Memories of old friends

  • Shared common jokes

  • Preparing for things and finding your preparation was useful

  • Green

  • Computers

  • Pinball

  • Learning

  • Softness

  • Bravery

  • All Your Base Are Belong To Us

  • Flash animations

  • Explaining

  • Politeness

  • Exploring

  • Things that you normally expect to find indoors being found deliberately placed outdoors and vice versa

  • Warmth

  • Friends' music

  • Friends being happy

  • Movement

  • "Things wk" (presumably "things working reliably"?)

  • Good costumes

  • Long hair

  • Dancing (though I only feel confident enough to enjoy this when I know what steps to do)

  • Codes and seeing them explained

  • Magic and seeing it explained

  • Stunts

  • Safety

  • Being liked

  • Chance meetings
I can definitely recommend the practice for the next time you're waiting for something and uncomfortable in the surroundings.
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