Adrian Sturrock: ‘If I’ve got to have problems, let them all be first world ones.’

Nat is annoyed because, apparently, I disturbed her while she was applying moisturiser for bed.

     ‘Now look what you’ve done,’ she says, ‘I’ve gone and put day cream on instead of night cream.’

     ‘Really?’ I pick up both jars and study them closely. I can’t really tell the difference between the two. ‘Are you worried that your face might suffer some kind of jet lag by the morning?’ I ask.

     ‘Very funny,’ she says, sliding a dollop of day (or night – who knows!) cream across my cheek with her fingers.

     ‘To be fair,’ I say, ‘my face hasn’t fully recovered from the clocks going forward … in 1998.’

     ‘So you haven’t always looked this bewildered?’

     ‘Very funny right back at you,’ I say, rubbing my cream-smeared face across hers.

* * * * * * * *

First world problems, of course, take a number of shapes. I realise that there are many people without food in the world but, earlier this evening, I heard myself complaining that my pizza box wouldn’t fit in the fridge.

     ‘It’s all a matter of perspective,’ Nat tells me.

     ‘Well, I tried standing further away from it,’ I say, ‘but, annoyingly, the fridge gets smaller too. And at some point I still have to get close enough to both in order to attempt wedging the one into the other. Bloody physics.’

     ‘That’s not what I … never mind!’ She gets into bed and switches off the light.

    I stumble around a bit longer, stub my toe, then give up on my day altogether and get into bed too.

* * * * * * * *

I lay here, thinking about the things that annoy me on a daily basis, turning each one over in my mind, assessing to what extent any of them really matter in the scheme of things. After considering the hair that the cat fastidiously lays over the sofas each day, in preparation for my return from work, and the fact that we live in a hard water area and so we’re reduced to having to buy bottled water in order to stop the kettle furring up, my mind inevitably moves to the biggest irritation in my life – the fact that I’m employed. This, in turn, directs me to the words of that great philosopher and social commentator, Morrissey: ‘I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.’

     I have always understood his dilemma, and I continue to feel his pain – my pain – on a daily basis. But I’ve only now considered how very first-world this actually is, as problems go. I blame Durkheim. If it wasn’t for him, spending his time being all French and inventing the ‘insatiable appetite’, I’d probably be happy with what I’ve got, would stop striving for things that I can’t attain, and would spend more time comparing myself to those who have less, rather than to those with more. Who knows, this might even lead me to performing more charitable acts.

     But such is life (or ‘c’est la vie’, as Durkheim and his mates would have one believe), I am destined to continue complaining about having to buy bottled water to supplement my clean tap water, while watching African street children on television drinking from polluted streams.

     Like it or not, I am part of the great Western problem. I might offer up my £3 per month to WaterAid but, as Joey from Friends points out, ‘there’s no such thing as an unselfish act– I do this to salve my conscience, in order to give myself the mental space to thirst for other unnecessary things that I don’t have in my life.

* * * * * * * *

I’m jolted out of my thoughts by Nat, who suddenly turns over and knees me in the spine.

     ‘We need a King sized bed,’ I huff to myself.

     ‘We’ve already got one,’ whispers Nat, in response.

     ‘I thought you were asleep, I say.’

     ‘I am,’ she says, ‘this is merely the voice of your conscience.’

     ‘My conscience sounds remarkably similar to you,’ I say.

     ‘I can’t help that,’ says my conscience, before turning over again and going back to sleep.

* * * * * * * *

I lay here a few moments longer, irritated by the purgatory being inflicted on me by my pillows, as they imprison me within my current ‘one pillow is too low, but two pillows is too high’ conundrum. Finally, I turn over sharply, take hold of the top pillow, and frisbee it across the room.

    Immediately, I feel a second knee connecting with my back, as a voice behind my right ear whispers up closely, ‘Hello, it’s your conscience again. Just a quickie to say that If you don’t lay still and go to sleep, I’m likely to stab you to death with your own bedside lamp,’

    ‘My bedside lamp isn’t very sharp,’ I whisper back.

    ‘Exactly! It’ll hurt more.’

    ‘… Point taken,’ I whisper, and resign myself to laying still.

* * * * * * * *

I suppose that being stabbed with my very own table lamp would be considered a first world problem in some corners of the world, with the fact that I’m rich enough to own one being the clincher.  I think this to myself, quietly … in my head … with as little movement as possible.

    (It is quite a nice lamp.)

* * * * * * * *








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