OK, I think I’ve just about recovered from the death of Bearders. Man, that was a Black Swan and no mistake.
“Everyone dies, everyone. Why this sense of shock? We are all going into that great goodnight and the only lesson to take from it is that you need to enjoy your life NOW” she proclaimed, eyes a-rolling and fingers no doubt a-wagging.
Talk about missing the point. Of course, from the perspective of the projected life-story of Bill Frindall, that it would at some time or another end in his death was highly predictable.
But for us ordinary citizens, going about our business and just trying to make it through January, the sudden bombshell that we now live in a Bearders-free world was a devastating and unexpected blow. It's the punches you don't see coming that knock you out. Unknown unknowns: they’re all the rage, they're everywhere. Rumsfeld was right all along. Who, for example, would have thought that “Now For Change” would end up being the slogan of the Conservative Party?
It’s been a strange old January. Take the other week. An incident occurred to me in a public shower which could have been very embarrassing.
In the event I resolved not to let it embarrass me and survived it by being in a determined mood – that is, ‘determined’ in the philosophical sense of causal determinism, not in the everyday sense of having one’s mind set on something.
It happened at the gym. Naturally, after spending empty energy on meaningless exercise, I like to take a shower. But when I got to the changing room I found an awkward queue of cross-looking betowelled men and a sign indicating that: (1) only one of the showers was functional; and (2) an alternative was available in the form of the poolside disabled facilities.
So rather than add my person to the awkward queue, I dripsweatily gathered my belongings and headed out to the front desk. Here the receptionist explained that the poolside disabled facilities were also out of action, but that if I went back into the gym I could use the disabled toilet/shower there.
Back I moistly plodded, knocked a warning on the disabled toilet door, turned the handle and went in. Well, this is a stroke of luck, I thought. A big, roomy cubicle, blistering hot water and all to myself. Off went the kit, on went the shower and soon I was working up a good lather and singing away lustily; I believe it was a medley of Jam songs (Strange Town, Town Called Malice, The Bitterest Pill) followed by a daring encore of Bowie’s Starman.
I’d just got to the second verse (I had to phone someone so I picked on you hoo hoo, Hey that’s far out, so you heard him too hoo hoo) when the steamy air was ripped by an intolerably loud and shrill siren-sound. I leapt from the scalding wall of water and grabbed my towel. Outside, the pounding feet of panicked fitness staff, then bangs on the locked door. I opened it a crack to face a gaggle of them looking back at me, all flustered and accusatory.
Out of the confusion it emerged that the fire alarm in the disabled shower was highly sensitive to steam (brilliant design that, really well thought-out) and that my lengthy ablutions had triggered it. Not only that, but the whole fitness centre was rapidly emptying and none of the staff present knew how to switch the alarm off.
“I see,” I said. “Well you could have warned me.” And with that I closed and locked the door, calmly dried and dressed, then walked out and into the car park, looking neither left nor right. I felt like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men when he stalks nonchalantly through the chaos of the pharmacy, having ignited the decoy carbomb.
As I drove away the alarm was still shrieking at a hideous volume, the staff were still running around aimlessly and people were still evacuating in rage or amusement as their character determined.
I chuckled like a naughty schoolboy who’s just got away with the big one. Maybe Susan was right: the only lesson to take from it is that you need to enjoy your life NOW.
In platitudo veritas.