Sunday 10 October 2010

Those sounds which sent my soul abroad....

Sometimes a disappointment can be so small that it’s practically non-existent. I’ve had a fair number of these in quick succession and don’t really know what it means. The disappointment has been so marginal, so very wafer-thin, that I almost missed the chance to feel it – and we can’t be having that. I prefer to know where I stand with my disappointments.

A Gratuitously Stylised Version of An Actual Disappointment Unfolding:

Mother: Here I am, son, in clothes that destroy you, walking through your door. I have been to Belgium and France and I bring you a gift from the blood-soaked battlefields of last century.
Me (excited): Oh, how astonishingly terrific and utterly super-hurrah. What is it, mother, do tell? Wait. When were you in Belg….
Mother: It’s a commemorative tin, son. Here. [Hands it over mechanically, with a straight arm.}
Me: Eek. I do so love a commemorative tin. [This, very sadly, is true.] What’s inside?
Mother: Slightly powdery star-shaped mints, I believe.

I don’t know what I was expecting. A raggedy piece of uniform? A tooth? It hardly bears scrutiny. These disappointments dare not articulate themselves, of course, because that would give the game away. (And what sort of a person, after all, takes issue with the contents of a commemorative tin? Exactly.) No, you must suppress the “ach” and replace it with “awesome!” or “by Jove, mummy, you’re right!” – depending on which side of The Atlantic you got out of that morning.

(No, I’m sorry. I can’t bear it. At the risk of interrupting the seamless flow of proceedings here, I’m actually going to have to insist that you go back and appreciate that moment properly. I didn’t just forget or somehow accidentally miss out the word “bed” in that last sentence, okay – I know what I’m doing here (often) – so why not just enjoy the imagery and the hinterland for a courteous while instead of racing on by? I don’t know why I bother. I’ve always been profoundly disappointed with the calibre of reader this blog seems to attract, as you can well imagine, I'm sure, but this is too much. Enough. Show some respect for the artist and stop taking these things for granted. I’m giving you this stuff for free, you know? Fucki** shameful.)

Even less disappointing was the moment last week when I finally discovered what “quadrivium” properly meant – it seems so obvious in retrospect. I wasn’t at all unhappy with the dictionary definition, to be fair to quadrivium, I’d just expected a little bit more, I suppose, and felt invisibly niggled for five or twenty minutes. Sigh. Gallingly, that’s all there is to say about these interest-averse disappointments. These things are, by their very nature, incredibly boring and meaningless. To cite further examples would kill me.

At least with your run of the mill feelings of disappointment there is an observable logic - a justification, even – behind them. You narrowly miss the bus (ach). You lose your wallet or job (ach). You read in the papers that the top scorer at your favourite football team – an absolutely terrific player – is a monstrous paedophile and must go to jail immediately, thus ruling him out for the rest of the season (damn).

These disappointments make sense. You can hold your head down low, safe in the knowledge that your feelings are entirely explicable.

This mosaic of minor indignities, fixing on our skins like so many shards of a jabbing disgruntlement, is grouted with temporal shame. But that’s fine. It’s only when you allow these atomised setbacks to feel larger than hope itself that the trouble may really begin. So, you know, be careful my gentle souls.

Ach. I wanted to talk about massive disappointments, as well, the kind that everyone will recognise – you may even be one of them yourself – but I’m clean out of a quite shocking brilliance.

Look, I know you won’t believe it, but you’re going to miss the hell out of me when I leave this place for good – no, I insist. So smarten up and pay attention while it lasts. This is your last warning.

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