I remember reading, some years ago, about an experiment where a sports car was placed in a prominent location and stolen. The theory that was being tested was that we are so conditioned to car alarms that brazen theft would not be reported. The people who had arranged the experiment, I forget who it was, brought a lowloader in and lifted the Ferrari. There were no reports of a theft, despite the blazing alarm as the expensive vehicle was removed by an unmarked vehicle. In fact the only interest that the experiment generated was a half-dozen complaints about the alarm.
It would seem that the more brazen crimes can be the easiest to carry out, an air of authority silences most challenges. Today I saw this theory used in practice to devastating effect. At St Pancreas station they have a huge Christmas tree sponsored by Fortnum and Mason, the decoration that they have chosen is hundreds of their world-famous hampers. The hampers are strung all over the tree bedecked in ribbons and bows and are also stacked around the base behind a simple barrier. As I left the metro station this morning I followed a young lady with a rucksack into the main station. When I say that I followed her I mean I was aware of her presence, in that way that you become aware of some people in a crowd.
Having collected my travel documents and headed upstairs I found that my train was ready for boarding so I headed for the gate. A couple of people in front of me I saw the same young lady with the rucksack heading through the barrier to board the same train. As well as the rucksack, which was strapped to her back, she was swinging a Fortnum and Mason hamper. There is no way that she could have visited the store in the time between exiting the metro and reaching the mainline train, in short I shared the journey with a thief. In a mainline London station surrounded by armed police, security cameras and staff this lady had sufficient air of authority to simply pluck a hamper from the stack as if it were her right. If I had a hat on I would have tipped it to her, a master of a craft always demands respect and this was Ms P Panther
When I was a young boy my mother had a very strong interest in psychology. It is not a subject that I have ever studied but I spent many nights reading her text books. I have always been enthralled by the psychology of human beings and the complexity of documenting it. As a small boy I struggled to come to grips with the concept of the eye as rods and cones, latterly joined by ganglions, and how they affect our thinking. Pavlov’s dogs were frequent evening pets.
I guess this interest is linked to my career and certainly to my love of the licensed trade. I have always had an adaptable character and it has certainly served me well. I learnt long ago that rigidity does not win negotiations. If you negotiate from a range of positions not only is your success guaranteed but the other parties failure is readily obscured, a far more important point. A flexible character allows me to play the most appropriate part according to the situation. Many are the times that people have formed an opinion of me only to discover their error too late in proceedings.
Publicans are probably the greatest psychologists albeit without certificates. We walk between different customers and adjust our attitude as needed. We can argue or sympathise over politics but the real talent is adjusting that position not just by person but by the number of drinks consumed. Judging when it is appropriate to talk to people about their problems or better to distract them. As daft as it may seem even knowing when to buy drinks is a matter of some consideration. Too many and you’re trying to hold people, too few and you’re mean.
What got me thinking about this was reading some other blogs which made me want to share an experiment. I have many experiments it’s something that I routinely, almost idly, do. A hot weekend brought about this experiment but first let me explain the theory. When a lady, or for that matter some men, takes a lot of care over their appearance why is that? Often we hear that it is ‘only for my benefit’ but my theory is that it is for validation. So yes it may be for your benefit but that benefit is that it makes you feel good to attract attention. I should point out at this stage that I have no problem with this nor am I criticising it is simply an observation.
Now the experiment. Identify somebody that is conventionally good looking, and attracting attention. Now, for obvious reasons, I have only tried this with women but girls it may well work with guys. You need to be walking for this or you will look weird. Fix your gaze just past the person that you have chosen and keep it there. It seriously unnerves them, almost like you are expected to look. As so often in life not conforming confuses. If you’re good you can see the falter in the step or the backward glance. What does this prove? Probably nothing but I think it highlights how we live by exceptions. If you’re used to attention not getting it is unnatural, it is the exception that draws your attention.
Give it a try sometime, but don’t forget to keep walking.
I was lucky enough to spend some time woth the gorgeous Aleisha yesterday, thanks Helen for the tip. If you ever have a day when you doubt your fellow human beings then I suggest you spend some time with foster carers. I am always humbled by the love and attention that these guys lavish on their wards. I love babies but I don’t think I could find the level of selflessness that meant I could pass a child onto adoptive parents, even though I know it’s the best thing.
Aleisha has some lovely adoptive parents lined up and soon she will start her new life with them. I know I will miss her, as I miss her predecessor Harriet, and I only see them breifly. For foster parents that have full time care it must be a difficult time, to have such dedication is quite inspirational.
It has also been an interesting weekend for science. I have confirmed that the only reason for a human to eat doner kebab is alcohol. In fact I have proven that the link between drunkenness and the revolving spit of doom is common to us all. Not only do we believe that this is actually food when we are drunk but it calls to us like a siren song.
My evidence for this is Dell who, having consumed a glass or two of wine, left the pub to walk home on Saturday. Dell is a long time confirmed vegetarian but on Sunday awoke to a strange smell in the house.
Yes he answered the drunks calling, sitting in the kitchen was the kebab he had purchased on the way home. In this we can see that the kebab had called to that deep subconscious that can only be accessed when drunk. Being a non meat eater allowed Dell to answer the call and satisfy the yearning without consuming the thing. There is a lesson here for those that are carrying some weight, buy it and bin it in the morning it still makes you feel better.
I think more experiments will be needed to understand what it is in a vegetarian brain that rejects this Pseudo meat. I have to call Blossom Hill today to see if we can arrange a research grant. I think Dell will be happy to participate, in the interests of science of course.
Science is also responsible for the fact that lefty has been giving me a lot more pain. Obviously science is being controlled by the evil Ms Nature but even she has to respect science. I cannot work out what I have done but my best guess is that I have forced the rotation into a new and uncharted area. Essentially all of the moving parts are gunged up with blood and debris from the accident and I have to work through these. I think that lefty has reached a blockage and we are now wearing it down. One thing I’ve never worked out is where all this rubbish goes? I understand why it’s there and that I have to wear it away but does it not just collect somewhere else?
In a final medical update I awoke this morning with a sore leg. Apparently I chose to answer the phantom itching on the donor site by scratching it. I say phantom itching because
It is not uncommon for tube stations to have an odd number of escalators, with one switched to ascend or descend according to loading, but at Highbury and Islington station the middle escalator is in fact a traditional staircase. At the lower end entrance various bollards and visual cues mark out the stairs and the right hand escalator as options to reach the surface and it is this that we have to thank for today’s escalator experiment. Many will recall the lemming approach that I observed at Stratford last month when an escalator was switched off, well this was a variation on the theme.
Passenger X was attempting that most fatal trick when in a crowd, studying his smart phone whilst walking. Guided by the mass of people he approached on the left hand side of the throng and didn’t fully evaluate the bunching that occurs when the crowd is presented with stairs and push for the single escalator. Our man glanced up, saw the crowd and deftly switched to the left hand ‘escalator’ with an irritated scowl, it was then that he became our test subject. As he stepped onto the escalator he was still studying his phone so caught none of the visual clues such as the empty ascent path or stationary nature of the stairs. His mind, on full commuter autopilot, stopped him dead on the first step and then floundered when the expected motion didn’t occur, at this stage I was brilliantly placed on the descending escalator to observe the mind over matter battle. It seems that the mind prepares the body for a smooth transfer of drive from ones legs to the escalator but when that does not occur it is not prepared for the momentum of the body, the result is a spectacular collapse. It really is a sight to see and I recommend it wholeheartedly, our test subject stopped like he had been shot and went face first into the steps. The conclusion of this experiment is that when you switch stationary stairs for the expected escalator you may not retain all of your teeth.
Honourable mention to Danny and Jodie, I am looking forward to a cuddle with the newly arrived Lily Rose only slightly more than the opportunity to raid Mothercare, well done you three and I will see you as soon as I get home.