Under-achiever

I find myself, I like to think through no fault of my own, a middle-aged, middle-class white male human (or close(ish) approximation thereto).  I live in a society designed to cater to my every whim (or at least those whims that had been anticipated by those that came before me).  I’ll admit that I was educated by the State, but I did go to the longer established of the universities in Oxford and have lived in Cambridge.  I have even been overheard during a pub quiz explain an answer with the phrase “it’s your basic Greek”.  With this level of privilege, I feel that I should be in charge of something important and – probably – destroying it from within through a combination of ignorance, dogma and o’erweening self-regard.

I suppose I would have to admit I have not spent as much time as I might working on my mendacity and nor have I honed the edges of my stupidity to achieve a near Platonic bluntness.  However, I feel that I more than qualify as an idiot: trust me on this, I have to live with me.  I even think I am (sometimes) funny – even if the humour does require quite a lot of background reading to appreciate, reading it rarely justifies – and I have been endorsed for Quips on LinkedIn (OK, I may have that last one up).  I even have a platform (hello!) and produce positively heaps of “unique” content on social media.

So where are my laurels and attendant lictors?

Clearly, I need to up my game to avoid going to my eternal reward having failed to live high-on-the-hog of my privilege.

Last week, I did – unintentionally – work on broadening my appeal to extend beyond the demographic of the merely human.  I awoke one morning and, hurling aside my duvet in my eagerness to tackle the new day, I discovered that I had been sharing my bed with a pretty hefty arachnid.  It was no tarantula but was more than large enough to grace any bathtub or nightmare.  I’ll admit that I did emit a startled cry as I exited my bed with more than my usual alacrity.  My companion made a dash for the door, eschewing breakfast or even a post-coital cigarette, as they commenced their 8-legged walk of shame back to their own digs (or perhaps straight back to the office to continue their career in web development).  After the initial surprise ebbed, I found my first stint as a trans-species gigolo very amusing and started the day laughing.  As a side note, I do wonder if this response to sharing my bed with another lifeform explains my long-running single status?

I thought this would represent the end of the incident, until I returned home from the pub that evening to find my 8-limbed paramour in bed, waiting for me and keen to get at least some of their legs over once more.  As the newest member of the oldest profession, I felt it was important to retain some emotional distance between myself and my clientele and so decided it was wisest to send my prospective partner on their way to get jiggy elsewhere.  Still, I was secretly rather pleased that my services were sufficiently compelling to command such a swift return.  Spiders substantially out-number the human population of the planet and could, allegedly, eat us all within a year: if they put their tiny minds to it.  Not a bad basis for an army of conquest, and I’d never want for silk…

My second recent wheeze to raise myself to my rightful position of power and influence is linked to more ruthless exploitation of (N)YTMG.  I already like to think of this as a cult with myself as its charismatic leader (luckily, I do have a very active imagination – it’s how I stay in such good physical shape).  Musing over a pack of Mini Cheddars, I pondered upgrading (N)YTMG to a full-blown religion.  As I was munching, I couldn’t help feeling that my savoury treat had more than a hint of the Eucharist host about it and would go very nicely with red wine.  Subsequent research revealed that the Bible barely mentions cheese at all – depending on your source it rates but a single or at most a pair of mentions – which leads me to believe that there is a gap in the market for a deity (or perhaps a whole pantheon), and associated written works, that give coagulated casein its proper due.   I realise a religion would require a little fleshing-out from this basic premise, for a start, would the Cheeselet also be considered a blessed food?  I think it’s time to plan 40 days of leave from work to head out into the wilderness, or on a zoo-based cruise, to be tempted and then return in triumph with my full Revelation.  I like to imagine that I can convert my role as the first (and only) prophet of a new religion into an actual profit: or at least, a decent wedge of free cheese…  I suppose I’ll probably need to appoint some disciples to help me manage my, soon-to-be vast, army of fanatical followers: if any readers feel themselves to be suitably qualified, feel free to bang in a CV.

Look back over this post, and indeed the entirety of GofaDM, I think I might be able to catch a hint of why I have failed to rise to power and prominence.  I am certainly full of ideas, albeit most of them stupid (though recent evidence from the corridors of Westminster suggests there is no reason for this fact to hold me back), but I seem to lack the follow-through to make any of them a reality.  Last night, a friend and I spent a constructive early evening in a local salon brainstorming some new creative ideas (well, if we stretch the definitions of ‘brainstorming’ and ‘salon’ just a little).  Despite the excellent products of the brewer’s art that acted as accompaniment to the dizzying intellects on display, I seem to recall taking a few notes which means that, unusually, some of the gems of last night’s discourse may be capable of reconstruction and – more seriously – implementation.  My days of powerless, relative anonymity may be drawing to a close…

I knew an old woman

The uncharitable might suggest I am turning into one (the very uncharitable might suggest this has already occurred), but enough of this self-deprecation.

As I was cycling into Cambridge this e’en (on my way to a date with the Britten Sinfonia) I swallowed a fly.  For the avoidance of doubt, I do know why – of which more later.  I did consider going on to ingest a spider as a potential palliative or cure, however, I felt that this was an approach that could easily escalate.  There are few peer-reviewed double-blind trials of arachnid consumption as a cure for the swallowing of a fly.  There is anecdotal evidence, but the most heavily publicised case history suggests that the approach does not yield a positive outcome for the patient (or several animals of monotonically increasing size).

The fly was swallowed as I tend to cycle with my mouth open – this is not because I am talking, but because I need the use of my mouth to provide my lungs with sufficient oxygen to indulge in even moderate exercise.  Those who have seen me (an option open to you all by accessing an earlier post) will have assumed that my nose would be capacious enough to cover not only my own oxygen requirements but those of a couple of friends as well.  Loath as I am to disabuse you of this notion, I must admit that my nose is a triumph of style over function and should, mostly, be considered a decorative feature – despite the amount of facial real estate it consumes.  Of course, this may merely be a case of a bad workman blaming his tools: there may be nothing wrong with my nose, I am just unable to use it properly.  Sadly, I was offered little training in the art of breathing when younger: I think you were expected to pick it up as you went along back in the more laissez-faire days of the 1960s.

Christmas is coming

“So what!”, I hear you ask, “Christmas is always coming (and going): it is just a feature of having a repeating calendar.”

Have I perhaps been observing a goose and am growing concerned about its incipient obesity?  No – nothing so traditional.

Have I seen Easter goods or the start of the summer sales in our retail outlets?  Probably, but have fortunately blanked them from my mind.

No, it was the weekend before last when I cycled into Cambridge, and even towards the end of Sunday afternoon found it was still rather challenging to access my preferred cycle park as the queue of traffic into the nearby car park was blocking the surrounding roads for some hundreds of yards.  This is a clear indicator that the important commercial message of Christmas has not been forgotten – even in these difficult times.  Surely, a source of comfort to those who support a traditional festive season.

Yesterday, I was in central London and so saw the Christmas lights in both Regent and Oxford Streets (all I needed was Bond Street and I could start thinking about houses or a hotel).  I think Regent Street was going with a spider’s web motif – the spider being an animal traditionally associated with Yuletide.  (I had thought this was sarcasm on my part, but apparently it really is traditional in Germany – the source of many of our Christmas traditions).  Oxford Street seems to have accepted that a white Christmas is very unlikely in London, and that a wet Christmas is much more probable.  The street is thus decorated with a combinations of Xmas presents and umbrellas!

Subject matter aside, both sets of lights were quite tastefully done – I’ve seen far worse in the same streets in years gone by.

I fear I must face up to the impending Winterval (a rather lovely word, much maligned by hysterical polemics in some of our press, who tend to view facts as being something best avoided when preparing a story) rather than hoping that ignoring it will cause it to go away.  My attempts to starve it of the oxygen of publicity have proven totally ineffective.  So tomorrow, I shall grab an umbrella, garnish it with spiders’ webs, and head to East Sussex to enjoy a Christmas Mass as it might have been in 1610.  Never let it be said that I’m living in the past!  Au contraire, I have to travel!