Archives of Misery

It took five hours to drive back from Stockport, England, yesterday. We arrived back and stopped in the tiny old market square here in Westbury and ordered a Chinese takeaway. While waiting for the food to arrive, I couldn’t help overhearing three people who were very drunk. The root of their complete and utter drunkenness was a bad decision to go out to a bar to discuss how they were going to deal with someone who hadn’t paid for something. It was the builder’s dilemma.

The outcome of their long weekend of drunken discussion was that they were going to dump something on the defaulter’s drive. I knew it was a bad idea. They knew it was a bad idea. Then they went into a shambolic panic, the “I left my handbag in the bar” routine. I told them the handbag was on a seat behind them, and they formed a drunken “I love you” huddle in the middle of the takeaway that went on for several minutes. They were so full of touching relief I could only imagine the handbag contained a vast lottery win from Saturday evening’s rollover. Somehow though I suspect it didn’t. Off they went, tearful and plotting revenge.

So, I was was very pleased to see a poem in The Seminal today Searching the Past Tense and Matt Dillon, by Adam Tolland. It encapsulates the potential for ruination, the misery, the bad money decisions, the grotesque senselessness of this era that reduces life to little more than one long fashion dilemma: “shall I wear a floral print, or shall I go strapless”. Here in the UK, I call it the Only Fools and Horses decision. Shall I wear my denim jacket, or shall I smash my neighbour’s door down? Only Fools and Horses is a popular long-running sitcom where the characters play out Thatcher’s ethos that fortune favours the brave and the stupid. The show proves that the brave and the stupid can also be lucky. But in most cases they are not lucky.