“I call this a Camberwell carrot, because I rolled it in Camberwell and it looks like a carrot.”
by Pseud O'Nym
Events this morning have put me in mind of a Graham Greene short story. I can’t remember exactly which one, as I read it years ago. But if memory serves, it’s set in a post war bomb damaged part of London, and there stands in the middle of all the devastation, a big and grand many storey house. A gang of lads are bored, the usual wanton vandalism that makes up their childhood summer is starting to lose its appeal.
Then one boy, in an effort to usurp the leader of the gang, comes up with a plan so daring, audacious and ambitious, it can’t fail to enthuse all who hear it. His plan is to totally dismantle the insides of the house. Everything, and I mean everything must go, as they say. The whole lot, so only the shell remains. The plan similarly excites all the other local gangs, who immediately see its appeal. They keep watch on the house, note the owners movements, so that early one morning when he leaves the house, they break in.
Actually, they don’t. The plan hinges on there being no outward signs of anything untoward happening in the house, so they get in and get work. And what work it is. They start at the top, and dismantle every fixture and fitting, every floorboard and staircase and pile it all up in a massive heap on the ground floor. This house, which survived the brutal ministrations of the Luftwaffe while all of its neighbours didn’t has been reduced to just four walls and a ceiling in the space of– it must be a Bank Holiday weekend thinking about it – by gangs of bored young boys wanting something to do. They aren’t teenagers either; the oldest one is twelve, as I remember.
That’s what it feels like, the sound of activity, an activity that moreover that is as necessary for Marge and Joe, as it is deeply discombobulating for me. Perhaps it is the same for them, perhaps not. But I know how the man in the story felt when he returned home, opened the door, and saw the devastation within. The inability to make sense of what his eyes were telling him, an almost wilful refusal to comprehend the shockingly awful enormity of it all, how the sheer scale of it was utterly overwhelming.
The removal men are here to take Marge’s, Joe’s and L.M.S’s stuff down to Swanage. Hopefully, they’ll have come up in a big fuck-off van, as a couple with a tyrannical overlord have a lot – a lot – of stuff. L.M.S really threw her toys out of the pram when Marge and Joe were deciding which of her toys could be thrown out of the pram. Happy she was not.
Anyway, it’s all organised chaos here, and not just because Joe has made some of the foulest smelling coffee that has ever bedeviled my nose. Proof, – as if any were needed – that coffee is indeed the Devils sperm. It is. I am sat here, typing this, in what was my room, but is now just a sun lit mausoleum with water stained walls, a heater, and a wicker sofa. That’s it. I’m – as Sheldon says – transcending the situation. With varying degree’s of success, it must be written.
Marge had suggested that I should watch the removal men do their thing, on the grounds that she maintains that there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching people do things and criticizing them for not doing it the way I would’ve done it. The problem is that thanks to my brain injury, I can no longer tut loudly until my frustration gets too much and I push them out of the way and do it myself, properly. Firstly, I can think of a lot more things I’d enjoy doing more, and secondly, it’s not exactly a feeling Marge is unfamiliar with.
I really miss drugs, proper drugs I mean, a big fat spliff – a Camberwell carrot! – a big bag of skunk or some magic mushrooms. Ideally both.