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PrevIndexNext  A TIZ too far Wed, 21 Feb 2001

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[ TIZ = Temporary Intimate Zone ]

On the train home from London a couple of weeks ago I was sitting opposite a girl who was on the phone for half an hour to her newly-ex-boyfriend, and it was like a whole week’s worth of EastEnders:

“…yeah, but you was allowed to fuck ‘er, is that it?”

“…no, no, no, you keep sayin’ ‘the last time’ as if it cancels out all the other times.”

“…and Sarah’s goin’ on about ‘ow it’s all to do wiv ‘er dad an’ ‘er bruvver, but I ain’t never met ‘em. I don’t give a fuck what ‘er dad finks.”

“…yeah, and what about when you come out of prison, what was that?”

“…nah, ‘ow did the police contact you? She ‘ad your mobile number an’ they called you, they never spoke to me.”

“…nah, you grassed, I never grassed. Anyway, I can’t talk now.”

Then she called her friend:

“…she must ‘ave bin good. It weren’t just the once. She must ‘ave bin good ‘cos he kept goin’ back.”

I wanted to lean over and go, “Leave it, ‘e ain’t worf it girl!” It was fascinating, like seeing someone obliviously making a fool of themselves on a docusoap, and this made up for any annoyance the lengthy and loud argument would otherwise have caused. But sometimes these painfully public conversations seem like the reason Walkmans were invented.

On Saturday I was sitting opposite a guy who spent the entire 45 minute journey on the phone to his mate describing in detail his awful Valentine’s Day, which was nothing compared to the day endured by his obviously long-suffering girlfriend. He revelled in telling his friend exactly how annoying he’d been, a relentless list of unremarkably arsey behaviour. He wanted to watch the football, for example, while his girlf wanted something else on, so he simply switched the TV off, “and we sat there for twenty minutes without talking, yeah? I’m not joking no one said a word for twenty minutes!”

His reserves of smugness still strong he went on and on, finishing every other sentence with “yeah?”, laughing to his distant friend about what a wanker he’d been. The man did not deserve a woman, even if he’d failed three of his four exams last week. His silver Nike swoosh earring also wasn’t gaining him any sympathy from me. But to cap it all off, he recounted the end of the evening, following a Valentine’s dinner with his stunningly patient or stupid partner, to half the carriage: “And she said the three words? Those three words, yeah? And I’m like ‘oh, me too,’ innit.”

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