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Oh the emotional WITCH'S HAT I was in this lunchtime. Having emerged from the GYM (what? you don't think an ADONIS LIKE figure like MINE looks after itself do you? It takes work... also, BEER) I headed up London's World Known Tottenham Court Road to get some ENVELOPES, so as to do a mini-mailout of press releases about the My Exciting Life In ROCK mini-tour.

As I strolled along I NOTED a group of Young Adults sitting on street furniture being talked to by a bloke who looked like an unwanted extra from FAME: THE LATER YEARS. He was all brightly coloured trousers, backwards hats and slightly too intricate facial topiary. He saw me coming and LEAPT off the piece of concrete he'd been perched on towards me, arm outstretched. "Hey mate, how are you? Good day?" he said, LUNGING at me.

INNER CONFLICT! What I really wanted to do was WALK ON BY, thinking he was BOUND to be a chugger or something, doing what they ALWAYS do i.e. Be all smiley and difficult to avoid so that POLITENESS forces you to stop and listen while they try to FLEECE you. "Come on Hibbett!" I said to myself in my Stern Talking To Self way "He's not wearing an Official BIB is here? Maybe those young people are TOURISTS, and he wants to ask a question while demonstrating that HEY! Londoners aren't as grumpy as they've been lead to believe. Would it hurt to shake his hand? Eh? WOULD IT?"

So I shook his hand and said "Good, thanks", and waited for the inevitable FOLLOW-UP... But none came. I smiled back and carried on my way, thinking that SIMPLE GOODNESS had triumphed over cynicism. He was just a cheery fellow wishing to spread some happiness!

Then I heard him say "You see, he wasn't so grumpy was he?" and realised - AAARGH! - he was actually a CHUGGER TRAINER! He was using ME as an example of how you could ENGAGE somebody. It was worse than I'd ever DREAMT - he wasn't just tricking me, he wasn't JUST making everybody that little bit LESS likely to engage in the people around me, he was USING me as a means to teach OTHERS how to DO IT!!!

NYARGH! By the point I had worked out precisely HOW ANNOYED I was about this (and it was LOTS - he wasn't even wearing identifying material, surely that means it's OK to SHOOT him? Or is that just in The Great Escape?) I had gone JUST too far to turn back and REMONSTRATE and, according to the FANTASY VERSION that played in my mind, turn to his apprentices and tell them that the REASON people are so grumpy and unwilling to be engaged in conversation with them is PRECISELY BECAUSE they are so used to every friendly greeting to lead to people JUST LIKE THEM trying to get MONEY out of them, "a percentage of which" would go to charity.

OOH! I was STEAMING with annoyance! Chuggers! BAH!

posted 8/10/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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