Mixed blessingsApril 5, 2009
About two months ago I was sitting on the Victoria Line between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park, listening to my mp3 player and lost in thought. An elderly white man staggered onto the train, looking agitated and began to wander down the carriage. I was about to give him my seat when I realised he wasn’t looking for somewhere to sit: he was blessing everyone with the sign of the cross. Before I could do anything, he was stood above me, gesticulating wildly, and then he was gone.
I was annoyed. I didn’t want to be blessed. I looked around the carriage. It was a typically diverse group: Male, female, black, white, asian. I would have guessed that few, if any, of the folk sitting down were Christian.
About three weeks ago I was on the same train, this time travelling from Oxford Circus to Finsbury Park. The same elderly man wandered into my line of vision; he was once again furiously blessing everyone. This time I was ready. As he approached me, I shook my head and said very clearly:
“I don’t want you to bless me,”
“It doesn’t matter whether you want it or not,” he garbled in a thick Irish accent.
“I’m Jewish. I don’t want you to bless me,” I repeated. Some passengers opposite me smiled sympathetically.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish,” he continued down the carriage.
A moment later he returned: “I’ve met God,” he said. “I’ve seen him.”
“Whatever,” I said.
He continued rambling incoherently. There was no point arguing with him.
“Go on,” I gestured with my head. “Get on with bothering everyone else.” And he wandered off.
A black couple opposite me rolled their eyes skyward, in what looked like a mixture of pity and scorn at my attempt to reason with a tube weirdo. I could have ignored him, but I really didn’t want him blessing.