The true story of an attempted exorcism on a trainMarch 23rd, 2012
I enjoy a good blog me. The difficult question is – what to write about? It’s not that I’ve nothing to say dear readers it’s that I’ve too much to say. I’m like the Stay Puft man in Ghostbusters just before he burst his delicious marshmallow goodness all over New York. Just like that, except I’m not made of marshmallow. Although I did once have a dream that my head was made of cheese. Dairylea to be specific.
Anyway, the point is that there’s a lot to be thinking about these days and no one thing seems to be more important than the other. Such a proliferation of issues is a bad situation for someone like myself who will often spend days making a decision. I’ll write lists of pro’s and con’s, ask opinions even take a clipboard into the street to conduct my own MORI poll . All to avoid actually being decisive. Of course being contradictory I am also, at times, too decisive. For example I’ll always regret the perm and streaks I got when I was 14. One or the other would’ve been fine but together, in the words of Hart to Hart, it was murder.
Even the first two paragraphs of this blog is a way of procrastinating so as to avoid any form of decision about what to write about. So instead I’ll just tell you a story about something that happened to me this week. I should say at this point that everything I write about and indeed talk about in my stand up is true, or at least has a kernel of truth in it. Sometimes people accuse me of lying, for example the woman who said that I wasn’t really from Glasgow and was just making it up. I’m not.
Prepare yourself then, for the absolutely true story of ………
The attempted exorcism on the train!
Picture the scene. The Glasgow to London Virgin Pendolino. The glamour is indescribable. It’s the very definition of opulence. If opulence smells slightly of urine.
I’ve been working hard so have treated myself to a first class ticket. I arrive at my throne and I feel, in every way, first class. I couldn’t feel more first class if I had a rosette. My seat faces away from the direction of travel. I know that bothers some people. Not me. I can travel in a suitcase without any bother. I unpack my laptop and set to work writing my Magnum Opus, a sci fi sit com based on the life of a woman from Glasgow who enjoys Casualty and cats.
As is my habit I size up my fellow passengers. I like to pretend I’m Sherlock Holmes looking for evidence as to how strangers lead their lives. Some would say I’m “nosy”, I prefer “overly interested”. Luckily two of my little known life skills assist me in sizing people up.
- I can lip read.
- I can read documents when they’re upside down.
On the table for 4 to the right of me were three people. Two of them were clearly together, not in a relationship, but definitely business partners. The man opposite them was on his own but was determined to speak to them. He sat with a smile while they attempted to eat their breakfast. Eventually he won and they started a conversation. At this point I slipped one of my earphones off to so as to tune into the conversation (the couple were out of lip reading range). The business partners were traveling to Carlisle, the single gent was on “church” business. He said that very loudly and then looked at me. I thought he was just scanning the room as I do but it seemed a fairly pointed look. I ignored him as I didn’t want any trouble.
I settled back to work writing a crucial scene in my sit com where the main character, Susan Coleman, is nominated for her fourth Oscar.
The next time I raised my eyes I realised that the couple had left and that the carriage was almost empty. I cast a glimpse at the gent and suddenly realised that he was moving his lips. Not talking out loud but muttering. He was also looking directly at me again. He was also reading from the bible.
I’m no expert in such matters (although my acting CV may say I am, but then it also says I can do a Manchester accent) but it did look suspiciously like he was attempting to perform an exorcism on me. I don’t know if that’s happened to any of you but it’s certainly not a typical event to occur. Even on a Virgin train.
I thought “stop it Calman. Your imagination is running away with you. It’s like that time you thought you had super powers when in fact you’d just taken day nurse and co codamal at the same time.” Pull yourself together, I said to myself in a Manchester accent. He’s probably just praying or reading out loud which is totally fine. Except he was staring straight at me. Not to one side, not thinking, staring. Right. At. Me. I did what anyone would do in such a situation and panicked a bit. Thinking rationally I surmised that in order to be performing the religious rite the man must
- be one of the religious types that doesn’t like the gays (which not all of them are)
- know that I am a lady who prefers the company of ladies.
- be on some form of mission to do ad hoc exorcisms. And exorcisms aren’t something I though were done “on the hoof” as they say.
But it’s possible. Who am I to say that the Church aren’t so upset about the threat to society that the gays pose that they wouldn’t start sending undercover agents onto public transport to exorcise the gayness out of people? It’s as plausible as the theory that an unknown entity created the world in seven days.
He carried on and I had to choose my tactics quickly. I thought “What would Jodie do?”. My options were limited.
- Ask him “are you performing an exorcism on me?”. It’s direct, it’s to the point but it’s also very public and potentially humiliating if he says no.
- Ignore him. This seems the easiest choice but when you can see someone in your peripheral vision muttering and reading the bible it’s not easy to enjoy Green Wing, even if you’ve seen it before.
- Stare back. This is a dangerous option. It’s confrontational. It’s saying “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!”.
Now I’m the type of lady who doesn’t like being stared at, whether a possible exorcism is being conducted or not. So I went for option 3. I stared at him for what seemed like hours. He stared at me. I stared at him. He muttered. And stared. Then when the train pulled into the station he abruptly put his bible away and walked off the train.
I sat, checking if all my faculties were still in place. They were. So I left. I still don’t know what happened. It could’ve been my imagination but I don’t have an over active imagination. At least that’s what I say to the my tea bags when we’re performing “Bolero” together.
What I do know is this. I may be able to lip read but when someone is muttering in Latin it doesn’t help establish is an exorcism is occurring or not. I’ll never be so unprepared again.