Saturday, 31 March 2012

Deny me

We have been in England now over two weeks, and it is clear that in this time I have been a great nuisance to many people.

The problem is, I am still on that euphoric high after arriving home. This presents itself as boundless enthusiasm and a gog-eyed wonder at the world; unfortunately it is the same world that everyone else sees as an obvious extension of their miseries, such as grass, or the privet hedge, or the little tweety bird that sits on your windowsill at 5am. Understandably therefore, I am annoying.

I must get back into step with the national mood. Let's face it, it is impossible to live here and not be aware how miserable everyone looks.

It could be the fact that England is poor, or at least poor people are poorer. Or it could be that the Tory Party is as heartless as ever. Or it could be a realistic assessment of all our employment opportunities (nil).

Of course I could blame the national character, the duty induced in us over the years of living here, to be miserable in public.

Yes, I can see how our misery face may be part of our national in-service training, the one which starts from birth. After six weeks, the infant's mother is removed by the imperative to work away from her child whether she wants to or not. Then everyone has the same entitlement to a miserable and alienated start.

Training clearly continues from age two when we force any remaining youngsters with energy into the local nursery, calling them strange, weird and unsocialised if they do not go. Anyway, here they can be denied control over their own decision-making and looked after by holders of clipboards.

By about age 13 we must work towards the goal of having the last of our initiative removed by an institution (except the capacity to instigate violence).

The goal for ages 13-17 is to look miserable while slouching about the streets wearing overlarge footwear better suited to a gym, occasionally bringing pleasure into our lives by mugging pedestrians.

By age 20 we must have all remaining autonomy totally removed, be made dependent on others yet simultaneously be denied all gainful employment, housing, and have our family life intruded upon by more clipboards and some cameras.

By the age of 30 we must look properly beaten down, alienated, and withdrawn.

But I think this last stage is important; we need to suffer with fortitude here, because this brings out our fighting spirit all the better. (By the way, fighting spirit must be interpreted as a determination to conquer misfortune with cheeky-chappy Blighty-pluck, rather than with knuckle dusters and knives down at the local community hall.)

Without facing a truly miserable time of it about age 40, we cannot progress to become part of the chippy worse-things-happen-at-sea brigade. In that late age we enter, and can look forward to sounding like your Nan, the one who cooked her own tea-towels with a war-time economy recipe in a spirit of fortitude and endeavour, even though it was 1956.

Unfortunately by age 60 it is all too late. You realise too late how doomed you were.

Then the argument I heard expressed today in a glorious triumph of non-optimism becomes horribly true: If you were going to do anything with your life you would have done it already. Only someone truly miserable, disempowered, failed and virtually dead while living in the England of today could utter these words.

So my smile at pointless grass and privet and sparrow is truly out of place. I must regain this national outlook of total misery and abject failure.

As a first assault, I will be listening to Radio 4, eating up all depressing news stories, and avoiding anything that might bring a smile to my lips (headlines on pasty tax sensations etc).

The children have suggested I bring about my own state of misery by denying myself all pleasures left to me, i.e. coffee, red wine, making attractive soft leather notebooks, and plotting to procure small birds into the garden so I can hear them tweet while sitting on the sofa playing with the ipad of heaven.


Minnie said...

Yay for the privet!

Deb said...

Brilliant post! I haven't been abroad lately but am still regularly struck by the abject misery that pervades here - everybody looks so tired and down-trodden. People sigh all the time. It's hard to resist sinking into that misery with them but we must! xx