He sat on the tube train to work, SNIFF reading his paper, SNIFF, flicking through the pages, SNIFF, barely noticing the grimaces from the fellow, SNIFF, passengers as he punctuated the journey with SNIFF a continuous metronome of SNIFFS along the route.
Every 30 seconds or so, a giant loud SNIFF.
Yet he seemed totally oblivious to the regular physical spasms that shuddered through his body as each giant inhalation took place.
Other passengers glanced at each other as the silent waves of disgust were communicated by the English rolling of eyes, and just occasionally, a tut.
Why do I find his behaviour so reprehensible? Is it the noise? Some deep seated phobia about disease? That he is breaking English codes-of-behaviour? What is it about sniffing so loudly that causes the onlookers to express disgust, and yet is seemingly of no concern to the person sniffing?
I sniffle a lot — colds in the winter, hayfever in the summer. My nose is a perpetual dripping tap so I always carry tissues with me.
Tissues, not handkerchiefs. Not anymore after a bad couple of years of hayfevers resulted in handkerchiefs returning home wetter than a girl at a boyband concert. Since then, disposable tissues.
Even then, I get caught out at times — one memorable moment recently when in position for a rare photoshoot opportunity being struck with a bout of hayfever so dire that having used up every paper based product I could find even started pondering if I could take off my socks and use them.
So, yes, I sniffle. I sniffle in an English manner — polite, embarrassed, refined sniffing that hopefully no one will notice.
But it’s just a normal bodily function. So why the sniffy attitude to sniffing.
Is it a Victorian prudishness that such things simply shouldn’t be seen, or heard in public? Is it a hygiene phobia reinforced by repeated warnings about spreading the flu in public?
Or is it simply a sound that sets teeth on edge? I suspect the later.
Personally, I continue to quietly glare at the sniffer.