A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

COMIC RELIEF




One of the more gratifying aspects of any minor illness is the mood that overtakes one (i.e. me) in convalescence. A short while ago I developed a rather fascinating set of assorted symptoms. As a matter of fact it wasn't really too bad at all, but a secretary who overheard me listing the physical manifestations of my condition over the phone to a rheumatologist asked me how, with so many things going wrong, I was still alive and paying national insurance. As it was, I felt alright apart from being somewhat tender to light pressure over every bony prominence and half of the fleshy ones.

            Anyway, I looked sick enough to make most of my family think that I was rather ill (thanks June), and, being the sort of chap I am, I just gritted my teeth, stiffened my famous upper lip and forced myself to play for all the sympathy I could get. Anything to avoid doing the washing up. All of which goes to explain why, as we close in on the Ides of March, I found myself convalescing in my lovely provincial villa in the mountains high above Ski Rossendale.

            I stood on the veranda (shed roof) in the evening as the sun sank over the nearby valley. It was deserted save for the occasional farm building, the only sign of life being a faint wisp of blue wood-smoke curling lazily from the farmer's nostrils. As I surveyed the scene I felt a deep calm sweep over me. I was aware of a great stillness within me. I was aware of a dissolving of strife and tension. I was aware of falling asleep.

            When I gradually became aware of waking up again, the last of the rays of the sun had already gone, leaving nothing but an amorphous orange smudge on the horizon, and my sense of joy and tranquillity in that moment were heightened by that sound most delightful to all who enjoy the valley's countryside, the sound of the womenfolk preparing dinner.

            I lit another cigarette and hobbled of my balcony into the sweet smelling back yard. What an evening! What a moment! What an opportunity to step outside the minute to minute sweat and worry of daily living and to commune with nature and to think. Great Thoughts!

Yes, I decided, now I would pause, take stock of the moment, and think Great Thoughts. Yes, I would turn my attention to a few of life’s pithy problems – such as my blueprint for an Ideal Society, a rational basis for humanitarianism, an alternative to imprisonment as punishment, a peace plan for the Middle East, and a few other odds and ends that I hadn't quite got round to last week. Like Red Nose Day and all the issues those comedian chaps have raised.

            As I am always eager to share my thoughts and insights with my faithful readers, I thought that I would now reproduce for you the stream of philosophic consciousness that emerged from those moments of contemplation.

            'Right, here we are. In the dark, at peace with the world. Just like I always promised myself. So... So... Hmmm... So here we are then. So... what? So what time's supper? Now wait, that's not exactly a philosophical premise, is it? It's not stoic, anyway - epicurean maybe.

            'Start again. Start with life. Ah yes, life. Life. Yes, life. Life... and... Time. A Time-Life production. I once took out a subscription to Time magazine: it was extraordinary - every single three year old back issue I had ever read in the dentist’s waiting room was absolutely fascinating and jammed full of interesting stuff, but every single up to date issue that they sent me in a confidential, plain brown wrapper was as boring as old boots. Funny that. Life eh? But then what's so boring about old boots? I've known some fascinating old boots in my time. Even married a couple.

            'But don't boots get old suddenly? You can be wearing a pair of boots for a couple of months and think that they look quite smart and then the moment you go into a shoe shop they suddenly look as if they are forty years old and you have done thirty thousand miles in them, most of it on rough terrain while avoiding arrest. Nothing looks as criminal as the things on your feet when you go into a shoe shop. I always get the feeling that the assistant is going to look at my feet, nip round the back of the shop and call Interpol. Yes, it was the shoes that gave the police the first clues to the Burnley embezzlings. Yes if it had not been... GODDAMMIT this isn't anything like a Great Thought. This is dribble. As usual. Start again.
            'Well... Hmmm... Well, perhaps I should elaborate my blueprint for an Ideal Society. Yes. Actually my silly uncle Neville (name changed to avoid Albert any embarrassment) once had an Idea for an Ideal Society. My boy, he said to me one Sunday, I think there would be a lot less bloodshed in this world (yes, yes, yes, yes I said) a lot less war and strife (yes, yes, yes) and a lot less vandalism and destruction (yes, yes) if everyone in the world spent three weeks in the Canary Islands, They're so peaceful. (Is that it?).

            'Mind you, the daft old twerp had a point there - there might be a real future for a political movement to replace Marxism or Fascism with Package-Tourism. A new world order organised by the upper echelons of Thomas Cook and Co, Ltd, Plc.org. Are you kidding? They couldn't even get the two of us and our luggage from our airport to the wrong hotel. But aha! That maybe exactly the sort of world government we do want for our Ideal Society - Thomas Cook and Co, Ltd, Plc.org regrets to announce that World War Three has been delayed owing to the fact that we can't get more than four soldiers to the same place at any one given time. Hmmm. So much for Society. What’s for supper? HOLD IT. HOLD IT JUST ONE MINUTE. We are not moving from this far from idyllic back yard until we have had at least one Great Thought or moment of insight. Start again.

            'A moment to breathe. How often have I asked, even pleaded, for a moment to breathe? Hundreds of times, I've promised myself a moment to breathe... to attune myself to the music of the spheres, to face myself. Well then. Here it is, so go on - face yourself. On the other hand, why bother? Surely one knows exactly how rotten one is in the first place. Deep down in one's heart one would rather face a rhinoceros with haemorrhoids than face oneself. It would probably be prettier anyway. The only people who can actually face themselves are precisely the kind of people that don't need to. Maybe I could take a moment to breathe and go round and face them. So much more pleasant.

            'All right, just for the hell of it. What am I doing here? What am I doing at this point, here, on the seventh stone from the sun, at a flash of time between the first amoeba and the last neutron bomb: what am I doing? Well... I'm... I'm... What am I doing? I'm finishing off my cigarette, that's what. Somehow that doesn't sound like a very significant answer. I guess I've just used my moment to breathe as a moment to breathe in. So what of the future? What do I want? Where am I going? I am going... I am going to have my dinner. Yes that is what I want and that is where I am going - to dinner.'

            So I went for my dinner. On reflection I realised that I hadn't quite got round to solving the humanitarian question or the problem of the Middle East. Some other time, perhaps. I mean life eh? - It certainly takes some thinking about, doesn't it?

One thing is for sure though; simply thinking about things just never seems to make them happen. You have to act. And whilst wasting my valuable time thinking of all the world's woes, at least I pledged my troth to the sterling work of the guys at comic relief. £57 million, they collected for just one night’s work. That’s £17 million more than last year. Very well done everybody!! And who says we are in recession?



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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