Friday, March 28, 2014

The Peculiars


I'm reading a book at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, I'm always reading a book. Not the same book all the time, I hasten to add. I turn them over every few days. Some I love, some I toss, others I wade through if I'm committed like to my Book Club or to the loan from a friend or rellie who tell me I really, really, really will love the book and I'm puzzled by Page 102, enraged by Page 240, resigned at Page 425, relieved at page 450 that the agony is over, and then drum my fingers for a week wondering what to say to the passionate lender.

All challenges should be so small.

All this in the way of telling you about this book I'm reading. My favourite genre of thriller-crime: a soupcon of savagery flavoured with a heavy undercurrent of character exploration topped off with the police having their own psychological issues. Multi-layered in other words.

Well, there's a scene in this book, post the crime/murder, where all these sightseers pack their rucksacks and go off to view the bloody crime scene, middle-aged trekkers, young parents with children, elders on sticks. Making a day of it. The police are challenged to control them, there are so many of them and so few of the police. Ordinary people, like you and me, all anxious to get their thrills from the bludgeoning death of another human being. Much like the rubber-neckers at a car accident. But these people are taking a journey to get there. Sometimes a whole day trip from 100 miles away. (These crimes only take place in the English countryside - don't they all?!)

And I was reminded of this engineer I worked with. A mild wee man, married forever to a rather pretty French woman. Childless. He blamed her and she blamed him for this infertile state. I don't think they knew that about each other. Anyways.....

There was a terrible car accident about 30 miles from where we worked in which five teenagers were killed rounding a corner on a narrow country road, speeding and crashing into a huge tree with the car bursting into flames. They had all recently graduated from high school.

I asked Phil, during our Monday morning coffee break what he and Claudine had done on the weekend.

"Oh," he said, "We took a picnic and went out to Caledon to have a look at that accident site. That big one."
My curiosity overrode my revulsion. I mean....what?

"Do you do this much?"

"Oh, yes," he said pleasantly, chewing on a muffin, "All the time. But only for the more serious accidents, where there's at least one fatality."

"And what do you do when you get there?"

"Oh, we set up the picnic nearby and spend the afternoon looking at the scene and any remains or burn-marks or bits of wrecks. And then we watch people bring flowers and teddy bears, you know how that is if young people or children die..."

"All afternoon?"

"Oh yes. We meet the same people usually, others like ourselves who like to see the aftermaths, we rate them you see. Compare them to other scenes we've been at. Take pictures sometimes if they're particularly interesting."

Ghouls.

They walk among us.

Passing for normal.






26 comments:

  1. "All challenges
    should be so small"
    Wish I had read this years ago.
    Seems all of my lifetime
    challenges
    have been so big :)
    At this time of life
    a little more aware..
    Most of your sharing
    brings much to mind.

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  2. I didn't know that people like that existed and that there were whole groups of them moving from scene to scene and I wonder if it is a cultural thing? I am rather disgusted by it, but at the same time (like a true anthropologist)would like to know more about it.

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  3. Good grief. Fascinating but just got to say that I would avoid this couple and their ilk, like the plague. Will check out that book as I love those kind of reads myself.

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  4. I've never heard of this practice before. It seems totally ghoulish and weird to me. People spend the day at the scene of a fatal car crash as if it was some tourist attraction? Something very warped going on there.

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  5. I remember my mother in law telling about at a friend's visitation a lady was sitting all night in the back of the funeral home. She figured some shirt tail relation. At the funeral the next day she asked about her. The funeral director happened to hear her ask and he said she comes to all the visitations and just sits there. I guess her form of entertainment. Strange.

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  6. Some have said it was ghoulish to picnic in graveyards, yet that was once the norm.

    When I lived in Flin Flon there was a lady who went to any and all funerals; had a fascination with them I guess. Quite unusual I thought.

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  7. I've learned to trust your book recommendations, so I'll certainly check out this one.

    Your revelation about the people who picnic at accident sites was a surprise.

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  8. thanks OWJ - as does yours for me :)

    XO
    WWW

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  9. Irene:

    Much like Madame Lafarge knitting at the guillotine beheadings, no doubt?

    XO
    WWW

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  10. Anon:

    Well, we don't know now do we? I think most hidden fascinations/obsessions never see the light of day.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. GM:

    I suppose in some way it is sick, but he shared it openly and my curiosity certainly overrode my distaste.

    I can't imagine doing it myself but then again I was nosy enough to pretend I was interested, right?

    XO
    WWW

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  12. Nick:

    Not to all tastes certainly and I was too leery to ask him if he felt compassion. He was quite a narcissist, this man, and manipulated the president of the corporation quite successfully.

    XO
    WWW

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  13. Judi:

    I've known many, many "professional widows" as I like to call them. Showing up at funerals and only talking about who was there and what they wore, how good or awful the corpse looked and what food was served.

    They're still doing it out here.

    XO
    WWW

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  14. SJG:

    We only grave to look at Mexico on the Day of the Dead and the parties in the graveyards but I think that's quite different from a bloody accident scene where the fatalities are unknown to the spectators.

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Linda:

    In this particular book the metaphors are quite over the top - more of which I'll write about later. I am nearly finished but it won't be on a "must read" list. :)

    XO
    WWW

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  16. Hmmm seems like the same bunch that showed up for public executions with picnic baskets etc.

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  17. Just discovered your blog and love it. I live in a fishing/lobstering village in Nova Scotia and am over 60 as well. Was talking to a friend the other day who is a come-from-away from out west, and she told me that life out there is "a lot faster" than it is here. I am also a come-from-away from Upper Canada (parents had gone up there to live the dream0 but have been here so frigging long that most people forget that. I am 7th generation since my family arrived here from Penzance on one side and (not sure how long) County Cork on the other. Cannot imagine life where I cannot see the ocean. I would feel smothered.

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  18. GFB:

    Absolutely. It must be in the genes. :)

    XO
    WWW

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  19. Ramana:

    Sad little lives too, I would think.

    XO
    WWW

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  20. Anon:

    Me too, the ocean is in my bones. I've done some family research and it turns out there is quite a long line of Viking boat-builders in my DNA!

    Thank you for your kind words :)

    XO
    WWW

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  21. That is absolutely revolting. Rubbernecking is one thing - it's an almost involuntary response when you pass, but making a festive occasion over someone else's horrifying loss. No.

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  22. SAW:

    My relationship with this workmate grew more distant as time went on, he gave me the creeps when I thought about what his weekend entertainment was. We never had social exchanges again.

    XO
    WWW

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  23. I rarely strike a person out of my life - but that colleague of yours? I'd not so much as give him the time of day.

    I was rather touched by Judi's remark (until I read your reply - you know, sometimes I wonder if I live in some sort of parallel universe, untouched by the vile ways of the world): I find it rather touching to have someone sit with the dead till they nail the coffin shut. I sat with my freshly dead mother-in-law. For an hour or so. Just her and me. If only so she'd not be alone till the undertaker arrived.

    U

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  24. Ursula:

    I was basically writing of strangers (i.e. spectators) at funerals, viewing it as entertainment, disengaged from the dead and grieving.
    I've known a few :)

    XO
    WWW

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