‘I’d rather be isolated with a Bengal tiger.’

by Pseud O'Nym

I was out walking in the park yesterday, careful to avoid the attentions of the tabard wearing functionaries, whose main function, was it seemed to stop people loitering or sitting on the grass. In this weather. Clearly they had just a little bit too humanity to pass the entrance exam as a traffic warden. I was tempted to find out how slow could I could go before it was considered actually stopping. Or what would happen if they judged that I’d stopped in one place for too long or if the distance between these stops wasn’t sufficiently distant enough. Basic wind up 101.

But I was distracted by a tantalising snippet of conversation I overheard from two people jogging towards me. It was incredibly frustrating only to have heard what I heard and not the before or the after. Both would’ve great, the whole thing just perfect. But they ran past me, leaving me deeply unsatisfied, rather like when you’re finally passed a spliff, only to discover there’s no grass in it, just tobacco. When you hear someone say ‘I’d rather be isolated with a Bengal tiger.’ you want to hear more.

Well I do. I want to know why exactly why she’d rather be isolated with a Bengal tiger. In great detail. Forensic detail ideally. I’d want to hear about all the petty irritations that can quickly escalate into an argument. I’d want to chapter and verse on all of this. I’d be fascinated, as indeed, would most people. Because nothing helps alleviate ones own sense of suffering than hearing that someone has it worse. And I’d also want to ask them ‘If a we couldn’t get a Bengal tiger, what other wild animal would you settle for? Two hyena’s, maybe? A boa constrictor or a black widow spider at a push?’ It has always been a source of great amusement to me that everyone considers themselves to be a bastion of calm and even-temperedness at all times during an argument. That they display remarkable restraint and fortitude in the face of unbelievable provocation and can find nothing in their words or deeds worthy of reproach, but the other person, well…

This made me think how right I was to return back to Camberwell for the lockdown. I mean, yes, I could’ve stayed at my partners house, and for three or four days I’d’ve been quite happy. But then I’d miss the garden, which in this weather has become into it’s own and I’d also miss my music. Those would be hardships, of course. But an incomparable loss would be the absence of LMS. In another world, writing about something entirely different, someone wrote ‘The absence of her means more to me than the presence of others.’ At the time it  seemed arrant nonsense,. Naturally it did. A friend of mine had just been dumped and inexplicably he sought solace from his navel gazing by reading poetry. To me it was the sort of things poets write so that earnest types can quote it to impress someone, but now I know better. As I mentioned on this blog last Christmas,

(LMS) is my favourite person in the whole world, my favourite person possibly because I’ve known her all her life, possibly because of her relentless capacity for mucking about, possibly for lots of other things, but unquestionably because of her wonderful effect on my extremely moody outlook. All the medication I could swallow would be nowhere near mood enhancing as a four year old delight banging insistently on my bedroom door and shouting “Get up, get up, I want to play”, until I did.

Of course me writing that she’s my favourite person in the world might’ve had more currency had I not had a brain injury and had not essentially everyone I known vanished like a virgin on prom night. Although having written that, there is something rather wonderful when I think I’ve snuck quietly out of the house and double locked the door, then to hear footsteps running urgently to the door, the letterbox being flung open and a voice demanding to know where I’m going and telling me I can’t go, because without me the house is boring.

And at this time, when the news is unremittingly grim, I could choose to fill my head with things that would only depress me. So, instead I choose not to, I choose to preserve my mental health so that it doesn’t go mental. I mean, I know the news is bad and it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Or not better exactly, more less worse. I know this. I just don’t want all the details in my head.

What I do want in my head is to be mightily impressed by the descriptive imaginative power of someone who can say ‘In a dream the air is thick with imagination.’ And not think it of note, but instead we engaged in the more important task of classifying farts. And besides, why would I want to be apart from someone who this morning knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea? And who has just given her opinion that ‘chocolate isn’t a food because its too tasty’

Indeed, too tasty to share, lest I risk her becoming a Bengal tiger.