Just before Christmas, I began to notice chewing gum. It was if I had been blind and suddenly I could see. I’m talking about chewing gum splodges on the ground. If you haven’t ever noticed this, I implore you to go to your local train station now and just look at the ground. I am sure that you will find, wherever you are located, that it is splattered with white splodges. Not only is the ground outside dotted with white splodges. So are the platforms, the stairs, and the road outside. It is as if the world has some odd white spot disease.
These splodges are the mouthfuls of chewing gum that have been evacuated orally by train travellers. I am a regular train traveller. I like to chew gum (I feel it helps clean my teeth and soothes any anxiety I might have about being in the Big Wide World). However, I would never, ever dare to spit it out in the street. That seems not only bad manners but disrepectful to nature. But there must be people who do this and people who do this a lot. There is a bin just outside Wolverhampton train station and this bin is surrounded by a (oddly beautiful) intense pattern of white splodges.
You may also have seen men in high vis jackets steam cleaning the ground. They are doing this (very expensively) to get rid of the white splodges. This seems rather futile to me as I am sure the white splodges will return. It is like squeezing blackheads, they will return.
Being of artistic disposition as I am, these white splodges (if you ignore exactly what they are and where they have been – in people’s mouths) to me have a certain beauty to them.
When I started noticing the white splodges on my twice weekly commute to Wolverhampton, I saw them everywhere. As well as being disgusted by them, I started to admire them. I even thought that if I wasn’t currently engaged in a burst balloon seeking project, I might consider charting the patterns made by these white splodges.
Then I came across this article. Someone has already had my thought. Not only has she already had that thought, she’s also had another thought that has been bothering me recently: there is no such thing as an original idea. The article proves it in double. My ‘original’ thoughts on the white splodges are not original (the writer of this essay had already had that thought on her commute to work) and my ‘original’ thoughts on there being no original thoughts is not original (her study of the white splodges led her to think about the fact that most ‘original’ ideas are not in fact original and have been thought by some clever artist before).
So does it matter if my ideas are not original? I’m not sure. It does bother me a little bit. But I get so many ideas during the course of a month (more ideas at certain times of the month) and sometimes even during the course of the day that I cannot adopt all of them and I have to dismiss some. So for now, I will dismiss the white splodges and stick to my balloons. But please do take a look at these white splodges and tell me if you see any beauty in their vileness too.