22 December 2011

Killing Me Deftly With His Song

He was on the bus from Orgiva to Granada – good-looking and leather-jacketed, but agitated, fidgety, speaking out loud to himself and louder still on his mobile phone.  He swooped like a chattering magpie on the El PaĆ­s newspaper scarcely out of the fingers of the passenger six rows forward.  He whistled.  He hissed between his teeth.  He hummed snatches of song, tapped relentlessly on the metallic handgrip on the seat in front.

At Granada bus station, he joined the queue for tickets to Malaga but warbled impatiently when the line crept agonisingly slowly, though he need not have been so exercised with a full forty-five minutes to spare before the next departure.

As luck would have it, our destinations were entwined.  He boarded my bus to Malaga, sat two rows behind, and stridently addressed no one and everyone. Then his personal soundtrack recommenced – and certain songs began to fall into place.  Surely that was a chunk of the old film High Noon, then the TV theme music of The Saint, and that was, yes, how appropriate, Killing Me Softly With His Song

A first view of the Mediterranean Sea unleashed a new barrage of sound effects –  whooping sirens, brassy trilling, bird twitter, dum-de-dums, cartoon boing-boings.  And throughout the hours on the road, the Andalucian passengers showed admirable tolerance. Although they didn’t quite follow the lead and join him in a rousing bout of community improvisation, they nevertheless did the next best thing. They didn’t bat an eyelid.  They didn’t groan.  They didn’t squirm. 

So was the problem, then, with me?  Me with palms going sweaty, earholes craving headphones, larynx holding back a scream, and innards cursing and fuming.  Me fixated on decorum and silence and boundaries and keeping your cotton-pickin’ self to yourself.  Me small again, silent, in the wings, watching someone with the sheer chutzpah to let it all hang out. Me in awe, me in wonder at a person simply dripping with sound.

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