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There’s nothing more annoying than the man next to you on a train journey who, having invested his pocket money into a grande cup of tea, insists on slurping it loudly through pursed lips, one tiny yet noisy slurp at a time. He has no idea how irritating the sound of hot tea and air being sluiced through his lips actually is. Is he being polite? Does he think that’s what they do in high society? That it’s good etiquette? That his vacuuming actions are going to cool down the offending liquid?

Why does the slurper not get the fact that his attempts to cool his drink are raising the temperatures of everyone sat next to him?

Today, there were three victims sat next to a slurper. You could tell that his infantile sucking was heading towards something nasty. I nearly boiled over and took the cardboard cup out of his hand and poured the scalding liquid over the top of his head but I restrained myself. It wouldn’t have looked good on the cv.

“Why not blow on it? It’s likely to cool your drink down equally well.” Asked an irate woman who was clearly headed to an important business meeting somewhere in the city.

“Why not just wait for it to cool down?” asked the school boy opposite him. “Be patient for a couple of minutes, it won’t do you any harm and it’ll cool us down at the same time.”

He looked bemused, unaware that his cooling strategy had caused such consternation in his fellow passengers.

“I’m in a rush,” he countered. “As soon as I get off this train, I shall have to hot foot it over to the building site where I’m working and they don’t allow unprotected drinks on site. So I need to cool it rapidly and not wait for the natural convection processes to do the job for me.”

We three sympathised for a moment but not for long. We were not to be distracted from our mission: to stop that suctioning, vacuuming, hoovering up sound that slurping generates.

“Are you a slurper or a blower?” he continued in as pleasant a manner as he could muster, given the hostile looks that were being thrown his way.

“A waiter,” I replied. “I wait for everyone at all times in all situations. Time and tide wait for no man, but I wait on the poor, the rich, the needy, the dispossessed, the triumphant and the deranged. But most of all I wait for my tea to cool before drinking it.”

He stared at me. He stared at the others. He took one final, long noisy slurp and before we could pin him down to beat the living daylights out of him, he was up and away, leaping through the carriage, cardboard cup in band and gesticulating rudely to everyone who had turned their gaze towards him.

“Slurper or blower?” muttered the business woman disparagingly to the rest of us. We nodded sagely, held our cups tight and blew gently over the top of them.