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Wednesday 22nd October 2003

When I am running I enjoy being sarcastic to passersby. Usually when they have done something a bit thoughtless or selfish, but sometimes just for the fun of it. As I am passing by quite quickly (sorry, extremely quickly. You should see me fly) I only have time for one or two words of sarcasm, so they have to be pointed and barbed and well conceived. Usually the two words I choose to use sarcastically are “thank you”.
Today as I was running down to the gym there was a couple walking towards me on the pavement. The couple were both quite fat and were walking abreast and consequently blocked the whole path. But the pavement was straight and we all had time to see each other and work out how we could all progress on our journeys without particularly hindering each other. As the road was lined with parked cars and was quite busy there was no way I could dodge out of their way. Clearly they would either have to have an extremely rapid liposuction operation, or alternatively they could temporarily stop walking side by side and thus give me room to pass without stopping.
The problem was made worse because just at the point we were going to pass there was a tree. I felt sure they would do the friendly and helpful thing of at least slightly stepping to the side, but they trudged on regardless, with doughy miserable faces. I had to stop running and step aside and wait for them to pass. As I had had to stop I had time to let my sarcasm really let rip, “Thanks very much,” I said.
You see I had nothing to thank them for. They hadn’t helped me in any way. I think you are beginning to see how effective my sarcasm was. I didn’t get a chance to see their reaction. My feeling is that there almost certainly wasn’t one. They wouldn’t have wanted to go to the effort of changing facial expression. Just walking along was clearly causing them enough torment. But despite the fact that I was obviously being slightly pathetic and acting as if the world should revolve around me (only a bit. I would be courteous to another pavement user and I don’t think it is too much to expect that of others), the employment of the sarcasm did give me enormous satisfaction.
I constructed an explanation for their behaviour in my mind as I completed my run. They were fat and they could see that I was too (though not as fat as them, but they were older and I had time to catch them up), and yet I had the audacity to try and do something about it. I was exercising, clearly trying to shed some of my excess weight. My running in an attempt to become thin was an implicit criticism of them and all they stood (or rather sat) for. They saw a chance to scupper my plans to leave the slothful life behind, if only for an instant and deliberately blocked my way. Using a weapon that I am rapidly losing, girth.
Although the victory was small I am sure it gave them as much pleasure as my short burst of sarcasm. Even as one of the players in this scene I cannot work out who I have more sympathy for.

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