When you look down to your feet they seem a long way off, especially if you haven’t got your lenses in. You can feel like one of those enormous plant-eating dinosaurs with a small brain in the head and another one in the tail. I knew my feet weren’t great, which is why I went to see the chiropodist a couple of weeks ago. She confirmed I had a fungus on eight of my toe nails. This fungus has come up on me over the last two or three years making the nail yellow and brittle. I had the choice of pills from the doctor or a varnish over the counter. So now I am coating my nails every evening after washing them in a bucket. We will note the evolution. The shifts in the details of the human body that operate over the summer are a source of micro-pleasure or distress: the accelerated growth of eyebrow hair; the skin blooming rosy initially then settling down; the urge to nap. My feet are my great unloved. I had reckoned it was time I gave them some attention. Bits were dropping off them. Just because they are a few feet away from my eyes I shouldn’t ignore them.
Humankind can only bear so much compromise, so much mitigation. It has an inbuilt desire to cut through the equivocation and (not to put to fine a point on it) the crap and take a stand that is black or white. Grey confuses the matter. And this is not just in our rhetoric; it is in our actions too. There are only so many months we can go on saying you can go into a cafe as long as you wear a mask on entry and when you stand up to go to the toilet and make sure you give your mobile number or better still use the ap. After a bit of this you just want to say oh let’s just not bother! In the end you just want to say people are rubbish or something like that. You want to polarise. Or, when you see the devastation, material and moral, after England’s defeat in the Euro final, that this is the Bacchae revisited, that when ecstasy is unleashed chaos will follow. But, the new heroic position is compromise, because truth isn’t simple. Faced with complexity, anyone can push out to the pole. It takes a hero to look at as much of the evidence as is possible, give due respect to those who know more or better, take into account political machinations and come to a balanced, considered position, which will not necessarily be sitting on the fence but may well be inhabiting a locality close to a fence.