‘Hello, you’re very lovely,’ my wife says to me, as I open my eyes and blink my way into the new day.
She’s leaning on her pillow, looking down at me. I’m conscious only enough to be aware that I probably don’t look my best right now, feeling all bleary eyed and bed-headed.
‘Thank you,’ I say. I smile up at her. ‘I like how you keep the bar so low.’
‘Yes, it’s recently been adapted for wheelchairs,’ she says, as she rolls out of bed and crosses the room. ‘I’ll leave you with that thought’, she adds, as she kisses me once on the head before disappearing downstairs.
‘ … So was that a compliment or … Hm. Probably not,’ I conclude, as I pull myself out from beneath the covers and am confronted with the same confused vagrant that I’m always confronted with at this time in the morning as I pass the bedroom mirror on the way to the bathroom.
Downstairs, I can hear music playing. It’s reassuring; It’s homely. Upstairs, the vagrant in the mirror is willing me to call in sick, or, better still, fake my own death and be done with it, or at least get my stupid hair cut.
I’m trying to think of a reason why I shouldn’t pull a sicky and jump on the next plane to somewhere warm; start a new adventure; do it now. I can’t really think of a reason not to – not one that I actually care about. But the thing is, some utter bastard, way back when I was a child, taught me the concept of deferred gratification. ‘That glove puppet won’t save up for itself, you know.’ It was the same utter bastard who taught me empathy. As Larkin pointed out, ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad’.
Larkin also posed the question, ‘Why should I let the toad work squat on my life?’ Amongst these voices from the past, I’m left with both the question and the answer to my eternal morning dilemma. I’m seriously starting to consider organised crime as an antidote to the day job.
* * * * * * * *
‘You’d be no good at it,’ Nat informs me, as I offer her my latest criminal masterplan over a glass of wine, that evening.
‘Why not?’ I say. I’m intelligent. We’re intelligent people. We must be able to come up with some kind of cunning plan between us.
‘Thing is,’ she says, ‘I like my job … and my liberty.’
‘I guess I’m on my own with this one then,’ I say.
‘If something were to go wrong, though, and I get put in prison, would you take a day off to come rescue me?’
‘I’d have to check my diary,’ she says. ‘Wednesdays aren’t usually good for me; I’m generally quite busy on Wednesdays.’
‘Oh, then I’ll try to be put away over a weekend,’ I say, annoyed. ‘…Unbelievable. Just … unbelievable.’
* * * * * * * *
She’s right, of course, I probably couldn’t pull off a successful white-collar crime. And I’m far too arrogant to commit a blue-collar one. White-collar crime is usually committed online these days. And I’m not very techy, if I’m honest. I can hardly retune the TV. I’ll need a techy friend. Someone I trust. But can you totally trust anyone. Another criminal on board would just add to the risk.
A friend of mine once had the idea of ram-raiding a bank with a van full of baboons. ‘Reverse in and just let the back doors swing open,’ he said, ‘The baboons will pile into the bank and take out all the bank staff and any witnesses. They really are vicious creatures.’
‘And how will you get the baboons back in the truck, in order to collect up the money?’ I asked.
‘Food. Throw a large bunch of bananas into the back of the truck as soon as all the people have been taken out. Simple.’ His answer was so instant as to suggest that my question was just plain ridiculous.
‘And the bank’s safe?’, I asked. ‘How will you get the safe doors open?’
‘… I’m, um, I’m still working on that bit,’ he said.
In the meantime, I’ve got work in the morning.
* * * * * * * *