Superstitions aren’t my forte usually. Assuming that little unrelated events are not only connected, but potentially foretell even greater things to come is the kind of thinking that strikes me as desperately trying to grab hold of something in life that’s missing from our everyday society. As if we are bored with the mad chaos of the universe, with the lack of barriers that prevent us from doing what we want, so we must make our own strings to dangle from, and subject ourselves to an invisible and omnipotent Nature-of-Things. When we do that, suddenly things are not only more manageable for our heads, but also more interesting, since there’s rhyme and reason to everything wherever we go now.
As I said, this brand of mysticism is something that doesn’t gel with my brain, at least, usually. But every now and again I feel I come under a spell of bad luck, and things snowball from there until we reach a climax.
We first lost three pond fish in a week this June; Golden Orfe and Grass Carp asphyxiating on ammonia that had contaminated the pond. In the store where we got the kit to stop the rest of them dying, the fellas there told us it had been going around a lot on account of the crazy weather. Hot, cold, hot again, raining the next… The oils from their own food had been melting out and choking them in their own home without them knowing or understanding. It was bad to think about, especially with how invincible pond fish usually seem, but things got worse when a pipe burst later in the month during the night. Now the pond was pumping out water, but pumping nothing back in. Only a few scant inches of water remained when it was discovered in the morning, and while some fish survived, some even without the aid of the garden hose to revive them, (The Invincible Koi and Goldfish), most did not. It’s horrible to think about so many dying over something like that so suddenly, but at the end of the day, fish are fish. New ones have taken their place and there are extra eyes on making sure they’re alright. But was this just a prelude for further tragedy?
On a cool Saturday afternoon, my neighbour knocked on my door. A nice old man, well into his retirement, who I usually saw tending a vast, bountiful and colourful garden that stretched around the bend in the street where I lived. We didn’t really have the kind of neighbourly relationship where you’d knock on the door and have a cup of tea with them though, so seeing him at the front door initially confused me. Until I looked down.
“Oh God!” I cried, “What have you done to your leg?”
He was holding up his jean leg, revealing a horrible gash where a good amount of his skin had just been peeled away. There’d been enough blood to soak through his jeans, browning the otherwise clean denim.
“I dropped a bag of cement on it…” He stated, surprisingly much more calm than I was feeling right now.
“Why were you picking up a bag of cement?” I asked my octogenarian neighbour.
“Well, it was in the way.”
Questions and offers of help moving future cement bags would have to wait, so I grabbed my keys and began driving Lee to the doctors, in so much of a panic that I forgot it was the weekend, and the surgery was closed. So we decided to go the distance to the Robert Peel hospital, guided by Sat-Nav, since I was fairly new to the business of driving injured people around.
Despite my own fluster, Lee was quite calm. Along the way we chatted about all manner of things, which certainly calmed me down and kept him in good spirits, especially when the pain started to creep up on him when we were nearly there. He told me about when he was a young lad, and when his father told him it was time to show him how to kill a cockerel for the family weekend supper.
“I was fourteen years old, and I had no idea what I was doing. Wringed the neck fifteen times until it died. Tore my legs to shreds with its struggling. But that’s what we had to do back then, y’see.”
Jesus, is that what had really happened here, I remember thinking. Was the cement bag story a cover for revenge-crazed chickens? Or had their ghosts possessed the bag of hardened slurry to attack him?
We also ended up nattering about how lucky he was that he could get treatment so easily, which naturally lead onto talking about the billowing dust-cloud that politics has become, everyone fighting with one another, trading blows and nothing being accomplished but a greater mess.
“Thank God we have the NHS. These Tories, they’re trying to sell it all off,” he said, taking on a more bitter and glum tone.
“It’s like they want us to be like the American system.” I replied to him, still glancing occasionally at my phone’s sat-nav.
“Well they’re already doing that, giving away all these bloody contracts to everyone. Yanks too.” He certainly wasn’t wrong about that.
He gave a heavy and disgusted sigh. “I’ve just no idea what these people see in them. Especially not those two, that Boris, and that… what’s he called…?”
“No, not him, the r*******-looking one.”
“Ah, Michael Gove.” I acknowledged, slightly surprised at the sudden language, but also at me knowing exactly who he was talking about from the vulgar description alone.
“That’s the one.” He growled. His tone was downbeat now, and with muted anger. I wondered if he’d spit in my car just hearing their names.
I couldn’t blame him. I decided not bring up the sore topic again, not even during the 2 hour wait in the minor injuries wing of the Robert Peel, but it stuck in my head. At the time, Gove had just been knocked out of the conservative leadership race, and we were left with just Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Boris, a buffoon who cowers behind his persona that exists to disarm the vile rhetoric that dribbles from his wretched mouth, and whose shadowy connections make everything he says and does suspect, and he’s the favourite. The alternative is a man who was the longest serving health minister in history, and certainly one of the most hated. It could hardly be imagined that anyone who’d worked anywhere near the NHS would ever cast a vote for him, but since he’s popular with the boys he’s up there in the final for this leadership race.
It’s really not worth worrying about too much, since it’s something I have no control over. 160’000 people will get to pick the next leader, the second time in a decade that everyone is denied a vote and this whole thing becomes settled internally. Only this time we’re on the cliff’s edge of Brexit, and both men seem to be determined to say that they will not only gladly walk of that cliff’s edge, but without anything to help us survive the fall. So off they go, jumping right off, taking everyone else with them for the sake of… God only knows. The Party? Certainly feels it would be a miracle for any party to survive all of this once it’s all said and done, but we are in the post-shame era of politics. Where Boris can say anything and be excused and where the US President lowers the world’s intelligence and will to live with every public statement.
I received a card the other day from the wife of Lee, who was away on the day of the incident:
“Just a BIG thank you for taking Lee to the hospital. So grateful! He’s had it re-dressed by the nurse who said it will take weeks to heal! Thanks once again.”
Well hopefully he will take it easy now, but I can’t shake the irrational feeling somewhere in my gut that there’s something worse around the corner…