Sunday 24 February 2008

Sweetness and fading light

14st 7lb, dammit; zero alcohol; 1,440; Lethe.

It’s a hoary old cliché that nutters write in green ink. It’s also an observable fact. I therefore take some comfort from the fact that the handwritten letter forwarded to me by the local paper, in response to a recent column, has been composed in black ballpoint pen. It’s not abusive, either, which always makes a pleasant change. Quite the opposite: it tells me what a cracking writer I am (suggesting a certain lack of judgement in the sender) and sympathizes with my loneliness. And it’s from a woman, though perhaps rather an elderly one. I don’t know why I leap to that conclusion, but perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that she boasts about not owning a computer; or maybe because I’m sure I recognize her address as being some sort of sheltered accommodation. Or, of course, it could be the fact that she suggests that I might like to join her and the other old crocks on the programme of “cardiac walks” organized by the local GPs’ surgery as their contribution to the national drive against obesity. If she did have a computer, she could read this blog and know that I am actually a slightly more energetic walker than that; and could probably also deduce that my idea of hell is going out with a bunch of knobbly-kneed, elderly ramblers, whose banal conversation would ruin the silence and solitude that country walking should be all about. One of the funniest sights I ever saw was a large party of stereotypical, superannuated ramblers striding energetically along a road near Ilderton, faces wreathed in aimless smiles. Trailing along 50 yards behind the main group came a pair of underdressed and under-equipped women in their 20s, both puffing fags. One was loudly informing the other that, as a way of meeting eligible young men, joining this particular guided walk had been her worst idea yet.

So, sadly, I think I shall have to pass on the one and only response to my Valentine’s Day appeal. Of course this demonstrates a total lack of realism on my part. I’m still fantasizing about falling madly in love with some gorgeous woman in her late 30s, marrying and fathering a baby, even though I don’t actually like children, would hate having to go back to work to support a family, and would make an utterly appalling parent. Added to which, the fact that a distinctly slapdash approach to contraception throughout the 1980s never resulted in any offspring strongly suggests that I have a rather better chance of being struck by a meteorite than of procreating.

No, what I should be settling for now is a nice old lady who can hold my hand in the day room as we watch the light fade together. Only I don’t feel quite ready for that. So I spend an hour writing something for the paper that combines a spirited attack on IVF with a pathetic attempt to make a virtue out of childlessness. Which is, of course, motivated primarily by selfishness and disorganization, but turns out to be making an even greater contribution to “saving the planet” than giving up flying and driving, going veggie and disconnecting my house from the electricity grid. It’s funny how things turn out.

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