Two vignettes

No, not “vinaigrette”. We’ve been through this before.

  1. The man who lives in the house next to the house in which I live does a cough. It is no ordinary cough that he does – it is several coughs rolled into one, and it sounds a little bit like he’s being attacked by a bird. He probably isn’t though. It’s just one humdinger of a cough – dinging hums with such aplomb that it’s like the man’s sitting next to me, even though in actual fact we are separated by several metres and a fence and a large hedge and a bicycle shed and several more metres.

    I am not the only person who hears the man’s cough. The man’s life-partner hears it too. “Would you like a cup of tea?” she asks the man. Not a word about the cough. It’s as if just suddenly offering to make some tea is what everybody instantly does upon hearing their life-partner do a cough.

    I am forced to wonder whether the man coughs alarmingly every time he would like a cup of tea. It’s some kind of secret code – he probably sneezes every time he fancies a coffee, too, and so on. But what’s wrong with simply asking to be given a cup of tea? It seems very strange to me.

    I don’t really like tea, anyway. It’s too hot and wet. It improves when diluted with milk, with obscene lashings sugar dissolved in it, but when you get to that stage you might as well just drink some milk and eat some sugar – faffing around with teabags is an unnecessary distraction. But I need to open my mind, to become less solipsistic. Just because I don’t like tea doesn’t mean nobody does.

    That wasn’t a very promising situation, and although the anecdote fulfilled most of the promises there weren’t enough promises to fulfil. The situation was as susceptible to being milked as oats are. And don’t even think about waving some oat milk in my face, saying that it is proof that oats can be milked. Oat milk is made by soaking oats in water. It’s a shame that you can’t soak situations in water. Let’s hope the second anecdote will be a tad better. Being a tad better than that is hardly ambitious, I must say.

  2. It is the morning. Only just the morning, but still the morning. I chisel myself out of bed and go downstairs. Nothing unusual about that.

    I notice that on the floor of downstairs there is a piece of paper. Nothing usual about that. Why the hell is there a piece of paper on the floor?

    Maybe there is a hole in the floor, on the other side of which lies a parallel universe. The piece of paper is there so that I do not put my foot through the hole by accident – it could easily happen, because there’s not a great deal of visual contrast between the dark floor and the dark shadows that one might find in a hole. I applaud whoever helpfully put that piece of paper there, because parallel universes are not nice places – full of scary foot-eating monsters who look like members of the British National Party.

    But it’s a small piece of paper, and if it’s concealing a hole then the hole must be a small one – so small that I could never put my foot through it. We are dealing with a possibility so small that a million copies of it could hide quite comfortably underneath the piece of paper.

    What would make the person in charge of magical portals decide to put a magical portal in my dining room, when there are so many other great places where a magical portal would be warmly welcomed, anyway? It’s severely arrogant of me to suggest that my dining room would be chosen as the place to place such a rare spectacle, out of all of the millions of possible locations in the world.

    I eventually decide that the piece of paper has blown onto the ground. I bend over and pick it up. I look at the side of the piece of paper that was facing the ground. On it has been written some writing by my mother, using an enormous heavy-duty pen. It tells me that my father and she have gone out.

    I dance around with happiness, like the child of an frog and John Sergeant. Woot, as the kids say. I have the house to myself. I can lie in the empty bathtub, fully clothed, eating ice cream. I can lie in a hammock made by glueing a curtain to the ceiling with bull sperm, eating ice cream. I can even do something that involves neither eating ice cream nor lying. Fancy that!

    But I hear a shuffling noise. It tells me that I do not have the house to myself. The parents are still present. It is fortunate that I hear the shuffling noise before I prepare to launch into a frenzy of ice cream eating – if I had not, the consequences would have been unimaginably terrible.

    Why did they write a note, explaining their absence, when they clearly are not absent? Is it a plan to embarrass me by catching me behaving as anyone does when out of the evil hands of having to behave ordinarily when in the company of other human beings? Probably not. They probably changed their minds about going out. Or went out and came back in quickly. The note could have simply been written a long time ago, hence its being on the floor (the first step on a terrifying journey in the direction of the recycling bin). But I like to imagine that it is part of an evil conspiracy. It is a shame that my imagination is too unimaginative for me to be able to use it to imagine many possible exciting evil conspiracies of which it could be part, but never mind.

I don’t think that either of those were particularly interesting. But since when was interestingness the point of this thing? I’ve got to say that – otherwise, I’ve been doing this so wrongly.