…Somewhere within these few lines and verses is the meaning of life. Of this I am certain, although at present I am at a loss to extract the distilled nectar…
I was heading into town on foot with a list of largely mundane things to do. My mind had wandered…I need to hire an accountant to do my tax returns…
I passed under a railway bridge and did an awkward shimmy to avoid a woman approaching in the opposite direction.
…Really? This is what you’re going to spend your Sunday thinking about? I harnessed a phrase so often used on other men in their late thirties whenever the subject of rising house prices rears its inevitable head: We used to talk about girls.
My rumination was disturbed by a loud screeching noise. I looked up and saw that a flat bed lorry containing a large (and full) skip was skidding and jack-knifing all over the road. In a flash I saw that its next arc would bring it round to bear on the woman and myself, crashing through the flimsy fence that separated us. My mind took in other snapshots – the curved wall of the tunnel – no escape – the expression on the driver’s face – a rictus of panic.
I am going to die – the thought as clear as day – A weight like that would pulverise me. I probably wouldn’t even feel it. No time for…Cars on either side of the road shrieking to a halt – petrol fumes – adrenaline coursing – the woman’s arm shooting out, almost grasping mine…
…And then, somehow, the driver regained control of the vehicle. He glanced down at me from the cab and shouted something. I only caught the last word ‘….reprieve!’ His face was a swirl of nervous energy – the relief and mania of not having turned his lorry into a murderous juggernaut, and then he was gone.
In the dim light of the tunnel the woman and I exchanged exhalations. I momentarily entertained the idea of speaking (we almost…we should go for a drink – maybe get married). The moment passed. I offered a smile, which was reciprocated, and then we went in our separate directions.
What now? I couldn’t just go and buy bin liners and washing up liquid as had been the plan – Oh no – I had been spared for higher office (or something). Something profound had just happened, and yet at the same time, nothing at all had happened.
The first thing I saw when I got into town was a coffeehouse I’d been boycotting on account of their exorbitant prices. Well stuff that now, I thought, I’m on bonus time. Bring me the baddest brew you’ve got and here’s all my money. Several glorious infusions later I found my calling – I was to pamper myself rotten. I bought the ingredients for an epic meal, a good bottle of plonk and a hillock of cake (to use the collective term).
Back at home I visited the bathroom and regarded its porcelain namesake (Who the hell has time to draw a bath in this day and age?) Me, that’s who! – piping hot, bubble bath – I only wish I’d had rose petals on hand and a Celine Dion compilation.
Well that was mind-blowing, I self-congratulated as I emerged from a miasma of steam to discover that I had no clean underwear (the result of a recent road-trip). Commando it is then! A pair of trackie-bottoms were on hand – crisis averted!
With a meal of heroes in my belly I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the summer sunshine. The lawn was looking a little unkempt so I decided to mow it – Find an album you’ve not listened to in a while, stick on some headphones – mooch around in the warm rays – perfect.
I set to work, thinking all the while about what had happened earlier that day. Worshipping at the church of self was all well and good for an hour or so, but surely something worthier needed to emerge as a result of so spectacular a reminder that life is fragile and fleeting?
Maybe, but not right now. Right now I had great food, great tunes, I was out in the sunshine. It didn’t have to be profound. This is good, I thought, this is being alive.
Something moved in my peripheral vision. I looked up and there at the gate stood an old woman. By ‘old’ I mean ‘at least eighty.’ She was waving and mouthing something at me. I let go of the mower’s trigger and took off the headphones.
‘What was that?’
‘Nice cock,’ she said – brazen as you like with a wry little smile.
I looked down and saw that the mower was obscuring my pelvic region from view.
‘How would you know?’
‘Oh, I’ve been standing here for quite some time.’
And with a wink and what can only be described as an incredibly leisurely pace she went about her business…