There is public and private fastidiousness.
An example, I think, of my private fastidiousness is the way I arrange my objects in my jacket or coat pockets before I go out in the morning. I put my phone in my left-side pocket and my key and oyster card/debit card wallet in my right-hand pocket. I am right-handed, so I have easier access to the right side; I will need more immediate access to the travel card. I will not need immediate access to the keys (once I slam the front door) but they are necessarily away from the phone as they will clank and maybe scratch, which they cannot do with the little leather wallet, which is its necessary bed-fellow. When I have negotiated public transport I reverse the pockets, as the travel card will not be on-call during the day. This is all private fastidiousness.
An example, I think, of my lack of public fastidiousness is my unwillingness to go back and correct a text I have sent because of a spelling error or typo. Many people insist on this, as in Now Worries and then ten seconds later No as a correction. I would not bother with this unless there were true cause for confusion. If I sent See you at sex I suppose I might correct the sex to six,, but mostly I’d just let the typo hang. This may reflect badly on me if I have written here as hear or their as there and correspondants may have me down as an ignoramus, but this is one of the risks when you exhibit a non-fastidious devil-may-care life style.
A man spoke to me at the gym today. He said, If that’s your water bottle, don’t leave it there. It was all right , I suppose. The If that’s your water bottle was polite enough, though the injunction don’t leave it there wasn’t. Anyway I said, It’s not my bottle. He didn’t seem to want the answer. He just walked off. At the gym, I have learnt, never speak. Once I made a shush gesture to a young man, putting my finger on my lips. He was throwing weights about with great noise. A few minutes later his mate came over and said have you been telling my bro to shut up? I said, it’s just a bit noisy. The mate said: no disrespect mate, but you’re not that young. I said, No disrespect taken. You’re right, I’m not that young. We were talking at cross purposes. He though I would be insulted, not being as young as him. Yes,communication is not the thing in a gym. Another time, a gym employee asked me, did you see who left this kit all over the place? I said I didn’t but it was typical, they must have their mummies picking up after them at home. The gym employee looked at me very puzzled. Was it a joke? Was it knowledge? Was it …? What was it? It was speaking to people in a place where you shouldn’t speak. I’ve been in that gym for about twelve years. Those are the only three times I remember speaking. Just don’t speak there.
Many years ago, when I was 12 or 13, I appeared in The Pink. The Pink was a Manchester newspaper that came out on Saturday evening, remarkably at about 6.30 pm. It was a full newspaper printed in the colour pink with all the football reports and results from the matches played at 3 pm that afternoon, as well as the horseracing and all the other sports played on the Saturday afternoon. It puts modern technology to shame, where often morning mewspapers cannot even get out the result and report on a match played the evening before. Anyway, imagine my shock when I discovered my own name printed there in the schools rubric as the winning goalscorer for my school team. How they thought it necessary to put a phonecall through or get a reporter at the match me and my mates were playing in Whalley Range that Saturday is beyond me. I remembered this random fact about me starring in The Pink the other day and it occured to me that life has been on a downhill slope all the way since then. It was a case of fame and acclaim when I had never even looked for it. It must have made me think that success came to you on a plate. Since that time things have not worked out with quite the same ease. Since then, it has been a relentless striving to hit the same heights, to no avail. Don’t worry, in recent years my striving has tailed off and I have become reconciled to my life of relative obscurity, and become quite content with it. No matter. I can still look back with a fond smile at the day I appeared in The Pink.
I am looking for a term to describe the phenomenon where you may believe in or have an interest in a particular topic or subject but the weight of discourse surrounding it, the sheer mass of hype, means that you can no longer abide the actual topic anymore. It came up with my friend when the subject of David Bowie came up. She cannot abide him because of the sheer amoiunt of jabber surrounding him. I am the same with smoked salmon, I said. I don’t mind smoked salmon, you understand, but it is massively over-hyped. Sheer visceral irritation can make you renounce your usual positions. The issue of over-hype comes to my mind at the moment because of so-called Red Nose Day, a BBC initiative to raise money for children’s charities which entails, for example, the dressing-up of newsreaders as dancers and the outfitting of dancers as newsreaders. The rubbish surrounding it means that I don’t even have the time of day for the charity. It is a case of the form swamping the message. Although, fortunately, I did manage to evade the phenomenon in the case of Happy Valley, which had been massively trailed and praised and for once I managed to block my ears and just watch it. This exception apart, with information overload now predominant, the phenomenon which I shall call content drowning, will soon flood all output.
I got to the funeral an hour early. I’d though 11. In fact. it was 12. So I went into a cafe to bide my time. The talk from one table was whether their kid had got into their preferred school. A mother came in with two children who bought smoothies. Wow! said the mum with hyperbolic glee, they look amazing! The kids were just drinking smoothies. The mother repeated that the smoothies were really incredible. She wasn’t drinking one, so you wonder how she knew. How they looked, I suppose. At another table a small child was being spoken to by an oldster, maybe a grandad. The grandad was deliberately bamboozeling the four year old with words. Is it a driller or a gorilla? he said. I read the child’s thoughts. A gorilla, obviously. What’s a driller meant to mean anyway? How do we speak to children! It’s no wonder they get all gender-neutral on us.