R eached the
E nd of
R oad with nowhere to look but
O ver my
S houlder at all those
P oems I wrote under the influence –
E very day a new word, prompting me to draw heady notions from the
C ellar of my mind and pour
I nto leaky
V essels just like this one. And around about now I’d usually think about
Ah well, onwards and upwards! There’s always the dictionary, opened at random. Close your eyes, stick a finger on the page … presidency. Er … perhaps resist easy salvoes in Donald’s extremely nervous company, yeah?
Hmm, not bad, though I say so myself as shouldn’t. Random has always been my preference over Predictable. I love starting sentences with no idea how I’m going to finish them … said the new prisoner to her uneasy jailer. What I’d really like is to come up with something absolutely original that would make everyone else kick themselves for never having thought it. In other words something so blindingly obvious, it would be hiding in plain sight.
A pipe dream, of course, because how could so many billions of people miss such an evident truth?
Surely the only way that could happen would be if they weren’t talking to each other properly … if they were subject to leaders (or leaders of opinion) who told them what to believe and who to associate with … if they were working all the hours available just to make ends meet … if their brief acquaintance with leisure pursuits was dominated by an overwhelming desire to escape … if their circle of friends and thereby access to different viewpoints was – for a whole variety of reasons that were largely beyond their immediate control – narrowing … if their default response to other points of view was not to debate them but to demonise them … if – but hang it all, why am I wasting time wondering about all these hypotheticals when the plain reality is that there’s nothing new under the sun, you can’t teach your grandma to suck eggs and everything you buy does exactly what it says on the tin?
Why worry? Be happy. And yet …
To wrestle with my disquiet about things, I used to keep a journal. And then another. When the word-count exceeded The Encyclopaedia Britannica, I called it a day. Now I just write on a single sheet of A4 whenever I feel like it – chance observations, stuff I copy down, things I overhear – the usual sort of thing, only nowadays I try to make connections because I know that when I come to the end of the second side I have to flip back over and write a title which encapsulates the whole kit and caboodle.
One of the greatest double acts ever to grace the variety stage, incidentally. Like most comic pairings, their humour derived from an uneven relationship. Although the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession, they were drastically different in terms of personality and behaviour. Where Kit – the straight man, feed, dead wood, or stooge – was reasonable and serious, Caboodle – the funny man, banana man or comic – was amusing, less pretentious, silly and relentlessly zany.
These stage personae were, of course, entirely fictitious. In private life Kit was the life and soul of the party and would do anything for you, while Caboodle was a poisonous killjoy whose only pleasures were malicious gossip and petty humiliation. Their greatness, for those who style themselves connoisseurs of the comic arts, lies in a transcendence of mere humour in favour of a kind of existential embarrassment. Kit and Caboodle were never afraid to die onstage and often did.
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