I was on the tube into town, a couple of stops from my destination, when a shifty looking man with a massive suitcase entered my carriage. He caught my eye and gave me a weird look. My brain leapt to the worst possible scenario and immediately assumed that his unwieldy luggage contained a bomb.
A voice in my head said, “Get off the train” and I nipped off before the doors shut. If my paranoid inner self was correct I’d just saved my own life. Whilst leaving all the other passengers to die.
Which makes this a bit of a lose/lose situation. If this slightly unusual man had a grudge against humanity and was about to unleash carnage, then I was going to feel pretty selfish for leaving my fellow passengers to their awful fate.
And yet if I had stood up and said, “I think you should all get off because for no good reason, other than a bit of a weird feeling, I think that that almost certainly innocent man might be about to kill you,” then I would have looked bad in a very different way. Either racist (if the man was vaguely Middle Eastern/Irish/ambiguously foreign/far right/) or disablist (if he was vaguely mad-looking) or just insane (if, as was the case, he was not really any of those things but had just caught my eye in at the wrong moment).
I am delighted to say this is not a race thing for me. I have got to the point where I mistrust and fear all people regardless of the colour of their skin. Does hating everyone make me better or worse than someone who singles out one group? Like the Islamaphobe I don’t trust Muslims, but unlike him I hate everyone else as well. At least racists like some people.
The voice in my head had spoken and I recalled so many stories about the voice in someone’s head somehow guiding them away from tragedy, so I trusted it.
As I walked up Oxford Street and hadn’t heard any commotion from the tube, I wondered why I had trusted the voice in my head. What if it was one of the evil voices in the head, like the ones that tell serial killers to kill prostitutes or George W Bush to go to war or Prince Harry to wear that Nazi uniform? What if because of the voice in my head I’d been hit by a bus or walk ed into a street-based terrorist atrocity or bumped into someone I didn’t like and have to have an awkward conversation with them?
How many people have listened to the voice in their head only to be killed? We never hear from them. Due to their deadness.
All in all I felt like a damn fool on every level. Nothing went wrong with the tube train (as far as I have heard, but maybe someone made a bad smell on it or something as I doubt that would have made the papers) but luckily nothing bad happened to me either.
And I got a fifteen-minute walk in, which might have slightly prolonged my life. The voice in my head may be playing the long game on this one, gradually improving my health though should really pipe up a bit more when I am drinking eight pints of beer.
I am pretty sure the voices in our head are always a negative force, at best excusing our selfishness, at worst our prejudice or desire to do something horribly wrong. I am never listening to my stupid brain ever again.