OK, I may have gone too far this time – though I think with a knowledge of the Greek alphabet, a mirror and a little low animal cunning you should be able to translate the title into English. For those without the time, or necessary enthusiasm, to transliterate from the Cyrillic, today’s post is entitled The Idiot – a word which appears to be exactly the same in Russian (though they may pronounce it differently – but if I needed a low-level insult in Novosibirsk, I’d give it a go with a cod accent).
Despite the title (and its language), I will not be referring to the novel by Fyodor Dostyovesky (except now) or even the indecipherable Estonian film version of it I saw a few years back. Talking of Estonian, a knowledge of the language might be useful (and not just on a visit to Tallinn) – only this week it could have saved me £12.99. At a talk on the future of the oceans (worrying – and I won’t be eating prawns or scallops any time soon), the speaker – Callum Roberts – was selling his book, but giving away free the proof copies he had from his Estonian publisher. Once again, the lack of application at learning Modern Languages in the Anglophone world is shown up for the myopic stance it is.
No, the idiot being referred to is the author’s flatmate (for any new readers, I should make clear at this point that the author lives alone – frankly, who would put up with him?). To keep the length of this post to within reasonable bounds, I shall restrict myself to three recent incidents – the use of the number three also appeals to the history of both dramatic structure (the three unities or three act narrative) and magical practice.
Incident the first: this morning as I exited Fish Towers by the rear door I found myself uttering the words “Hello world, have you missed me?”. This utterance was out loud – but, luckily, neither the world nor any of its denizens saw fit to make reply.
Incident the second: On leaving the Ritzy in Brixton last Sunday, I needed to make rapid progress to the tube station to avoid missing the last train home. My speed was inhibited by the human sheep milling aimlessly (so far as I could tell, they might have a different story) on the pavement, but the road was empty. As a result, I walked very briskly along the bus lane bypassing the ovine masses. I justified the use of a bus lane to myself by dint of the fact I was wearing a red shirt (it claims to be Pink, but I believe that’s the maker’s mark rather than the colour) – and as I thought (and probably said out loud at the time) at the time, close enough for jazz (perhaps I should also have carried a flashcard bearing the legend “Not in service” to avoid confusion? You can never by too careful with sheep).
Incident the third: Earlier this afternoon I visited a bookshop (by accident, I was after some whipping cream and a few raspberries), having been thinking that the unread content of my bookshelves was looking rather thin (and about the joy of books more generally). Fool! What was I thinking? I was lucky to escape with fewer than a dozen books. So many plaintive voices crying out for me to take them home and give them a bloody good reading. Somehow, I made it out with only two (just marvel at that self-control!) – but am left nursing an unsatisfied desire for so many more.
It is truly said that howsoever far or fast you run, you can never escape yourself. I suspect a worrying proportion of the world’s GDP is spent in denial of this simple truism. I think I have mostly come to terms with the fact that I’m stuck with me – but haven’t quite given up all hope.