COLUMN: May 16, 2013

I FIND as I grow older that I become increasingly baffled by everything. And bear in mind that I set up Base Camp relatively high up Mount Befuddlement in the first place.

Specifically, I am unclear on why people do things. It is not all people or all things, but it is an ever- growing number of both.

For example, I was perturbed this week by the twentyish woman with whom I shared a revolving door.

I saw the woman enter the door as it moved, stepping into one of the compartments. I stepped into mine. And she did not move. She just stood there, trapped, a look of confusion on her face. I was equally trapped and confused.

Why didn’t she move?

For 10 seconds, we looked at each other. Then I realised. She didn’t know you had to push the door to make it revolve. I gripped the handle and started to push. She looked at me as if I were a madman, but then as the door moved, it dawned on her and she was freed.

Somehow, she had managed to reach her early twenties without encountering a revolving door either in reality or in films. I found that utterly incomprehensible.

Even more baffling this week was the display I witnessed from my work-bound bus.

I saw through the window a pair of tables with accompanying chairs on the pavement outside the premises of a chain bakers.

I found it quite difficult to imagine who would want to sit six feet away from a busy road used by buses and articulated lorries, but I had a go. And here I am, imagining it . . .

CHARLES AND EDDIE SPOT A PAIR OF TABLES OUTSIDE A CHAIN BAKERS.
CHARLES: Oh, my stars and garters! A pavement cafe! Just as in Paris! Do you remember, Eddie?
EDDIE: No, That was Ramon.
CHARLES: Ah. Well let us sit and have an espresso and an exquisite pastry and watch the boulevardiers saunter by.
CHARLES SITS DOWN. AN OLD WOMAN PASSES, PULLING A TARTAN SHOPPING TROLLEY.
EDDIE ENTERS THE SHOP. HE RETURNS WITH THE FOOD.
EDDIE: They did not have any espressos, I have had to get Bovril.
CHARLES: And exquisite pastries, as those crafted by the master patissiers of Montmartre?
EDDIE: Jumbo sausage roll or cheese ’n’ onion pasty? They were the only things that were hot.
CHARLES: Pasty.
AN 86 BUS WHIPS PAST. ITS SLIPSTREAM TEARS THE PASTY FROM THE HANDS OF CHARLES STRAIGHT INTO THE FACE OF EDDIE.
EDDIE: I hate you.

But I am most often confused by young men, which is in itself strange as I used to be one.

Consider the hipster – and why not, as he is already thinking about himself 24 hours a day – and his laughable life. I have railed against him before, and I admit defeat on the battleground of red trousers. I will never surrender in the battle to retain “may I have?” instead of “can I get?” but I am doing that for all of us.

I saw a hipster recently walking through the city with a metal detector. I assume it was a metal detector; he might have been taking a floating disc for a walk – you never know with hipsters.

Imagine the readings this young man must have been getting in a street filled with cars, lamp-posts, cables, and copper pipes. Perhaps he had been fooled into thinking he was listening to some difficult but incredibly hip electronica.

Nevertheless, he was overshadowed by the young man I saw on the homeward-bound bus this week who had a shaven head and a complicated and extensive beard. I understand naturally bald men having beards, as some sort of proof that they can still stimulate the odd follicle, but this was ridiculous. He had chosen to look like a character from the game “Guess Who?” on purpose.

He compounded his ridiculousness by wearing a flat cap and short trousers. I will set aside the fact that a good test of whether a man under 65 is a psychopath is whether he can wear a hat without appearing self-conscious.

The issue here is that this was not a man who was cool and didn’t know it. This was a man who was cold and didn’t know why. This was a man who was the logical conclusion of the incomprehensible fashion for wearing T-shirts with gloves and tourniquet-style scarves. I think I hated him.

They say ignorance is bliss. If that’s true, why am I so angry?

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