17. Laundry treasure


The weekend just gone might be comparable to a snugly fitting pair of jeans. Now it’s time to dip into the laundry basket for some unwashed underpants that need to see the light of day.

There is a legacy of anger within me, which rarely finds honest expression. The last time that I hit somebody, aged 19, earned me an Actual Bodily Harm conviction. Yet, despite my 61 years of age, a recurring reverie involves violence against Manchester United football legends Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane.

In the fantasy, I am playing against Keane, who has kicked or intimidated every player on our team. After he sends me flying, with a borderline-legal tackle, I walk across and pick him up, one-handed, by the neck. Holding him out at arms’ length as he struggles and curses, I walk to the crowd and throw him about 20 yards in. Ferguson is coming for me now, red-faced and bug-eyed, steaming from each ear. I pick him up similarly, and send him flying onto Keane. Then run down the tunnel, arm punching the air, to the cheers of our home crowd.

Interviewed by quote-hungry media, I transgress every tacit rule of soccer diplomacy. “Somebody had to sort both of them out. The ref couldn’t control him, and Ferguson wouldn’t.”

The details can vary slightly, but this is my most common reverie. Perhaps even more juvenile is another where I am backed up against a wall, maybe in a prison yard or urban alleyway. The mob/gangsters/hoodlums/bullies are about to tear me to pieces. But they are unaware of my darkest martial arts. I rise off the ground, kicking both legs in opposite directions and physically removing the heads from two of my attackers. The carnage continues, until a pile of bodies accumulates. I know their associates will come next, and that – like Charles Bronson in The Vigilante – I will maintain the fight to de-scum my locality.

There is a cognitive dissonance to both these fictions, because the precise situations can never occur in this reality. That’s a polite way of saying that some might consider these admissions as a form of mental illness. I believe the wellspring for these visions lays back in my childhood.

More feasible, sane and communally robust is the imaginative scenario where bailiffs come to take away whatever few assets I hold, due to unpaid debts. The bailiffs are prevented from entering the property by endless concentric rings of local people who are determined to uphold common decency over the lop-sided commercial law. For every new set of authorities that arrive to back the bailiffs, the protective human layers double.

If China’s recent roll out of “social credits” – i.e. Pavlovian awards for “correct” behaviour, and holding “correct” opinions – ever takes full hold in the West, I am surely doomed. And there is so much more in my laundry basket.

Luke 8:17
For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest;
neither anything hid, that shall not be known…





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