Tuesday 24 June 2008

The end of the world is even more nigh

13st 10lb (which is far better than I expected or deserved); zero alcohol yesterday; 1,320 days left; Zacpeten.

It doesn’t greatly bother me, since I am counting down to my own date with destiny on 4 February 2012, but I read in this morning’s paper that my apocalyptically minded friend in New Zealand has got his dates wrong. The good news is that the world is not going to end on 23 December 2012 after all. The slightly less good news is that will all be over on 21 December of the same year, when the 5,126 year calendar of the South American Maya people comes to an end and clicks over to zero. Apparently thousands of Dutch people (why Dutch?) are buying life rafts or underground bunkers and laying in emergency rations for the coming end of the world, suggesting that they have not quite grasped the precise nature of Armageddon.

Now I know that a possible error of two days is a mere bagatelle in the life of a 5,000-odd year calendar, let alone the 4.5 billion year history of Earth (or 6,000 year “history”, for Creationists). However, I imagine that it will be pretty crucial if you are planning to spend your last 48 hours enjoying an orgy of sensual indulgences. Imagine just getting the last of the vast spread out of the fridge, the cornucopia artistically positioned on the edge of the giant bed, the fine wines all chilled or gently warmed to the optimum temperatures, the top of the Vaseline pot loosened … and then the bloody trumpets sound, two days ahead of your personal schedule. It will be no good asking the angels to call again in a couple of days when you’ve finished stuffing yourself and the partner(s) of your choice.

Best to ensure that you have your dates right, then. Or just have the orgy now, to be on the safe side. If you spend a bit of cash on it, you may help to stave off the recession that is otherwise certain to follow the much publicized “credit crunch”. I’m open to offers to say a few appropriate words to kick off your pre-Armageddon blow-out, by the way, and can be contacted on blokeinthenorth@googlemail.com.

As for me, I experienced an epiphany in Sainsbury’s car park in Alnwick this morning, and I suspect that not many people will ever be able to write that. I was taken by surprise by this rare and powerful frisson of something that I eventually identified as happiness. It seems to be based on my decision not to worry about what might be about to go wrong, with the LTCB or anything else, but just to relax and enjoy the present. Which might admittedly be even easier if one were somewhere more scenic than Sainsbury’s car park.

Thanks to this selfish shopping expedition, I was 40 minutes behind schedule when I reached the kennels to collect my dog. I jokingly asked the miserable looking bloke in charge whether he had told the dog when to expect me, and he replied with apparent seriousness that they never did; ever since some people turned up 24 hours late to collect their retriever, and it destroyed its bed in disgust on the last night, after having behaved impeccably for the previous fortnight. Do I believe this?

Owing to various changes of plan occasioned by my life-transforming meeting the LTCB, I was able to cancel my next booking at the kennels. The miserable looking bloke then asked if I still wanted the booking after that, from 24 July to 3 August. I said that this must be a mistake, as I was never going to be away between those dates, but he was adamant that I had made the reservation. So I cancelled that, too, to the accompaniment of a stern warning about it being during the school holidays, when the kennels turn away many more dogs than they can accommodate. On reflection, if you have a surname vaguely similar to mine and are confidently looking forward to placing your dog in kennels between 24 July – 3 August, I suggest you get on the phone without delay and confirm your booking.

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