You know how it's really very hard to concentrate when there's building work going on? When men in paint-spattered work clothes are raising dust and carrying out manly tasks with tools in a carpetless corridor the other side of the office door? When the noises of real work echo smugly round the building? You know how it's really really hard to… Oh yeah.
It's forcing me to pronouce the words in my mind as I write them, rather than just letting them slide out of my mind and onto the screen. It's intensely irritating and feels as if my keyboard is inexblicably sticky. I'm twitchy, under constant threat of ambush from a new noise. Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Pause. Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Anxiety creeps in.
Still quiet but,
No, be calm...
Any minute n--
But although I am eyeballing these particular specimens of Czech manhood (hee! I said manhood!) with some disfavour, all is not lost. This morning on the way into work, a particularly shaggy gentleman staggered his way onto the train and slumped down in the seat next to mine. He then proceeded to pass out and exude a rather pungent and noxious vapour.
I began to contemplate important matters: Exactly how rude it would appear to get up and move to the other side of the train post haste? Should I warn everyone in the vicinity to switch their mobile phones off lest a random spark ignite the gases filling the carriage, turning the train into a rattling early 70s Soviet art deco inferno of doom? Could I hold my breath for another three stops?
Then the gentleman in question awoke and began to address me in Czech. Apparently assuming from my lack of response that I was deaf rather than ignorant, he leaned closer and began to speak more loudly and distinctly at a distance of about 6 inches from my right nostril.
I re-checked the number of stops to my station and stared blankly ahead. My mind frantically worked. Would hysterical screams be an unforgiveable breach of etiquette? How long would it take to develop psychic powers? Would groaning repel or attract him further? When would the gas masks descend from the storage area above my seat?
And then, to my complete astonishment, a Czech teenager clad in football kit who stood nearby turned to the gentleman in question and began to chat with him. I have no idea what he said, but it was clearly compelling. It distracted the gentleman in question out of my personal space for the rest of my journey, leaving only a trace of odorous steam and a huge sigh of relief behind him. My hero.