The other evening, I was walking around Shepherd’s Bush Green to get to the tube station when I noticed a slightly odd man standing on the pavement, observing everyone who passed. To be honest, this isn’t all that unusual on Shepherd’s Bush Green, though what was strange was that his genitalia remained safely inside his trousers.
He was wearing a scruffy plasticy overall and was holding a clicking counting device in his hand. As the two women in front of me went by he double-clicked one of the buttons (there were five to choose from). Then as I went by he pressed one of the other buttons once.
It appeared that it was his job to count and categorise the pedestrians walking along the green at dusk on a Wednesday. Who would want to know this information? And be prepared to pay a man to find out? And given that two of the five clickers were seemingly to register male and female, what were the other three for?
The man was shifty and collecting his mysterious data surreptitiously as possible, almost as if he thought he was being noticed. Sure, he had some kind of uniform, but it was half-hearted, which made me more suspicious. It seemed obvious that this fella was a charlatan, who was working for himself and who probably got some kind of perverse sexual excitement from counting passers-by and dividing them into five sub-groups of his choosing. I prefer the cock waving honesty of the normal perverts. The fact he kept his penis hidden from view, in a sense, made him more disgusting.
I had assumed that he was categorising male and female, but perhaps the man was judging each of us on our relative sexual attractiveness. If so, I was either at 1 or 5 in his depraved scale. I’m not sure whether I’d prefer to be considered attractive or unattractive to such a deviant. Who am I kidding? I hope it was a five. Christ, at my age, it’s just great when anyone at all shows an interest!
However, despite my certainty at the sexual waywardness of this plasticy statistician, suddenly my (entirely fair and understandable) preconceptions were dashed. Because a bit further along the path was another man, similarly attired, who also had a counter with buttons on it and a clipboard. Was he there to check the other one’s work? Was it really that complicated a task? Or were they actually just trying to work out how many people walked along this short stretch of pavement and then carried on walking, and how many people just mysteriously vanished?
Whatever the case the second man wasn’t going to be much help. He looked quite bored and cold and had put down his clipboard and his counter on a railing and was making no attempt to calculate or divide the people passing him.
If their bosses had had any sense they would have put the two men together and the second bloke, who clearly wasn’t cut out for the counting business, could have just said, “This is our real job. We’re not doing this because we have a prurient interest in counting people based on their comparative sexual attractiveness,” to everyone who passed.
You know, just to allay any fears that any normal person would justifiably have. He could then add, “But if we were doing that, you’d definitely be a 5!” And he could give a cheery wink. And send people off on their way with a spring in their step.
And then if in their spare time he and his friend wanted to masturbate over the data they had accumulated then no-one but the most frigid frump would deny them that pleasure. After they’d been so polite and all.
It would certainly explain the plastic overalls.