Finding myself in the unexpected company of two Neanderthals I assumed that the ‘’what do you do for a living ?’’ was unlikely to be thrown in my direction. Indeed I had more confidence in going down to my local job centre wearing Homer Simpson’s string vest and an anti-fungal thong with a view to joining The Special Forces - and being asked to report to Aldershot Barracks on Monday morning.
( Actually, given the Uk Government’s back to work program, that might be a precipitous analogy )
But the ‘’what do you do for a living ?’’ was here…….and so was one of the two bruisers that were asking the question.
I felt like I had walked into the lion’s enclosure at London Zoo ( I only came to see the penguins )
Pretending I’d not heard him ( noisy out here isn’t it…) he then repeated the question with sufficient stridency as to meet the qualifying criteria for medicinal constipation.
Now there comes a time in a man’s life, when, faced with a situation, however threatening, however benign, he babbles the most incongruous nonsense; the most bewildering perambulation to the extent that nobody, including himself, quite knows why.
Unsure of what to say as the professions flashed before my eyes, including the oldest ( who put that there ) I decided on being a school teacher, a doctor, or a project manager……shortly after which the words, ‘’I’m a professional boxer’’ fell out of my mouth.
There was an uncomfortable pause, which only ended when the malevolent little b*****d inside me stopped pissing itself laughing.
I was struck by the dichotomy of assuming a posture consistent with that of a man who was now in need of a spare pair of underpants ( orangutan walking gingerly ) and that of a fighting machine.
With Churchillian courage I effused a terrifying glare, suffice to scare the living daylights out of next door’s Rottweiler; had I the courage to look at him that is. You should see the size of him. His owner doesn’t take him for a walk, she saddles him up and rides him at the 3.30 at Kempton.
It worked as the two goons, gripped by fear and understandably shaken ( who wouldn’t be ) shifted away as they laboured under a distress that neither of them could quite reconcile - biting their nails, scratching their stubble and licking each others tattoos.
’’Why did the silly little wimp look like he was chewing a wasp ?’’
‘’I don’t know perhaps his tablets have ran out. It’s the carers I feel sorry for.’’
The blood that had drained from my face, after having initiated a tactical withdrawal, decided to return - under certain conditions :-
1) When joining the queue for Greggs bakery, it is incumbent upon oneself to take a good look around.
2) Having taken a good look around, one must make certain that one is in fact, lining up for a hot crusty pastry with fellow minded individuals.
3) Upon realising that the queue for Greggs bakery is in fact an EDL march, do not, under any circumstances, try to carry out a citizens arrest.
Latterly, I was in a supermarket whereupon I overheard a gentleman engaged with a member of staff in trying to satisfy the price of an item based on a promotional offer. Good with figures I interjected ( I don’t get out much )
The gentleman thanked me, and asked, quite unexpectedly ( here we go again ) ‘’what do you do for a living ?’’
Surfing high on a wave of reverential aphorisms ( ‘’perhaps he’s nobility…’’ ) from stupefied members of the retailing fraternity ( ‘’isn‘t he good looking’’ ) who took note of the fact that should they find themselves in the terms and conditions, subject to availability, see pack for further details, Department, I was the man to see, I almost told him I was a polymath, but settled, rather gallantly, given my exalted status, for the innocuous appellation, ‘’accountant.’’
Believing that such an anodyne confession was enough to end any conversation ( including my will to live ), and that things couldn’t get any better, I turned towards the checkout only to find myself ( not again ) in the lions enclosure at London’s Zoo ( with no clothes on )
‘’me too, what a coincidence’’ before he, with a Pavlovian yearning to become lifelong friends, began to furnish me with the most banal of missives, guaranteed to render any unfortunate incumbent of that most respected organisation, The Samaritans, into an unfathomable depression ( who do they ring when they get depressed ? )
I began to wish I had told him I was a professional boxer, and an unbeaten one at that; 25-0.… and all by knockout….. and some of them might have been accountants……( time to chew a wasp )
‘’Is that really the time……. is there someone at the door. I think I might be needed in terms and conditions, sorry must dash……’’ before ripping off my clothes and revealing a large S on my chest.
Dinner parties, especially at Christmas, are the worst. One has barely time to pretend to be asleep before the ‘’What do you do for a living ?’’ ( back at London Zoo, and still no penguins ) enters the house without an invitation.
Gatherings like this, although uncomfortable for many reasons, at least afford me the chance to settle on a narrative that would appear to be the most apposite.
It wouldn’t do to stand up and say ‘’Speech’’ during the middle of Auld Langs Syne’’ before regaling everyone with the news that I had passed the entrance exam for Dignitas with flying symptoms.
I had settled on the narrative that I was taking a career break in order to further my ambitions… before taking up a fellowship at Oxford University, an internship at 10 Downing Street, or perhaps a life of crime at Her Majesty’s Pleasure; I had yet to decide ( the world is my onion )
But as I stood up ( ‘’I hope he’s not going to sing’’ ) and began with, ‘’Friends, Romans, Countrymen…’’, a voice from nowhere announced to everyone that I was ‘’poorly.’’
Taken by surprise I contemplated the relative merits of collapsing head first into the xmas turkey ( ‘’forget about the poorly I think he’s dead’’ )
I don’t know what was worse, the sniffling cries or the otherwise deathly silence. Even the resident mouse exacted a moratorium on his flatulence lest he surrender his hideaway.
All that was missing was a picture frame falling from the wall and landing on someone’s head ( probably mine )
‘’No no, don’t call a taxi I only have a mild touch of flu; more a slight cold really, like a leaking tap, annoying but not broken haha - would you like to see my anti-fungal thong ?’’, before the phantasmagoria ushered the words, ‘’really poorly, for over seventeen years and when he’s really poorly he smells of rotten eggs ( see mushroom cloud )
As every pair of eyes ( and pinched noses ) fell upon my deflated countenance, me, the Barrabas of the xmas milieu, sat, alone, and suffering in silence, long after the hazy memories of others had dissipated into something that doesn’t have a name.
I dare say it will all be over one day. I can but hope to be there when it happens.