Monday, 25 August 2008

"It's How He Would Have Wanted To Go"

How would you like to die?

From heart failure brought on by an overdose of Class A drugs, suffered whilst enjoying carnal relations with Girls Aloud?

From multiple organ failure after a high speed crash sustained whilst competing in a Formula 1 race?

In the arms of the person you love the most?

These are the romantic ideals. Okay, two of them are romantic. Dying of a drugs overdose whilst shagging Girls Aloud might just be wishful thinking on the part of some misguided souls, and certainly my top choice of the three, but what that notion has in common with the other two is that the protagonist has passed away whilst doing something that made them happy.

A little while ago I wrote of how the only thing I need to do before I die is see Stevie Wonder play live. In 36 days I will be seeing Stevie Wonder play live. Does this mean that I can die on the way home and be happy about it? I'll leave to one side the horrible journey home from the O2 Arena, something that might make me want to hurt myself if I can't find someone else to lash out at. Would I really like to die after seeing Stevie Wonder play live? I don't think I would.

Here are some of the things that I believe I'll be feeling during my journey home in 36 days time: Happiness. Elation. And that's about it, really. I expect to feel deliriously happy, the kind of happiness that I normally only experience when with my friends at a particularly good Glastonbury. The world will be mine, I'll feel unbeatable. I'll believe that I can do anything. It will feel very, very good.

One thing I won't feel like doing at this time is dying. No Sirree, Bob. For a few fleeting hours I'll feel like I want to live forever. Dying is the very last thing I'll feel like doing. Who on earth would want to die when they're at their happiest? That makes no sense.

In conversation with my flatmate two minutes ago he said that he actually would like to die doing something that made him happy. He cited as an example the time he went powerboat racing and thought he really might die. He also thought that if he was going to die he might as well go in this way because then his family and friends would be consoled with the knowledge that he died doing something he loved, which is a good point and makes my belief appear selfish. Which is exactly what it is.

If you Google the title of this post you'll find links to stories about the deaths of famous or noteworthy people. Somewhere in each of these stories you'll find a family member or friend quoted, saying "It's the way....". When someone has died and there's a quote saying that it's the way they would have wanted to die, who is coming out with that statement? It's not the person who has just died, is it? No, it's someone who loved them, someone who is grieving. Someone who wants the hurt to go away, someone who wants to rationalise an irrational situation. Roger Daltrey said it about John Entwistle. I can quite believe that Entwistle felt this way, but wouldn't he have liked to have done it some time in the future so he could have done a bit more of what made him happy? Of course he would. When someone is taken from us prematurely, or when they're enjoying life, it's always a tragedy and no amount of pontificating about the nobility of their death can change that. "It's how he would have wanted to go" makes sense only to those who are still alive.

In a bed.
On my own.
In my sleep.
After being made redundant from a job I love.
Then discovering that my wife is having an affair with my best friend.
Who also happens to be the man who made me redundant.
And then accidently running my dog over as I drove home after that discovery.
Feeling that life is terrible and will not ever get any better.
Having recently told my all of my family and friends that I love them.

That's how I'd like to go.

Friday, 22 August 2008


I upset my friend Kirsty yesterday. She said she didn't care but I know she was just saying that because she's a tough girl and doesn't like to show that anything gets to her. Just the previous afternoon I walked past as she was telling someone that I was her best friend at work. She ran up to me and hugged me as if to prove it. This is the memory that struck me the very moment I looked at her face just a second or two after I'd told her to shut up.

She's a good girl, is Kirsty. Talks too much, but I get on with girls that talk. Always have. I'm a good listener. They talk, I listen, everyone's a winner. She's had to deal with far more adversity in her short life than I have in my longer one, and is more interesting for it. She's young, 20 or 21, and very attractive. She's tall, slim and pretty. She has ambitions of being a glamour model and had her boobs done just a few months ago to further her chances in that field. I'd probably fancy her if I was ten years younger. But I'm not and I don't, honest. But I can't deny that it's nice having having a pretty young girl come and sit on my desk every day. Me being an old git, and all that.

I'd arrived at work that morning in a foul mood. The first two shops I stopped my car at on the way to work were out of Guardians. This annoyed me and made me a little bit late. I don't like being late. My pc hadn't even had time to boot up when Kirsty came into my office and started talking to me about her friend's baby that she'd seen for the first time the previous evening. I'd already heard about this baby. The father cleared off six months into the pregnancy and reappeared as the mother went into labour. She wanted to call the boy Shadon. Yes, that's right. Shadon. I could write a lot about this but can't be bothered. He wanted to call his son Nathaniel. Kirsty thought that he gave up the right to any input because he'd buggered off and, after all, he wasn't the one who had to carry the baby all those months. I had let that last comment go, feeling it churlish to point out that that would preclude any man from ever having a say in naming his children.

Apparently this baby makes cute gurgling noises. He goes a bit cross-eyed and looks confused and smiles when you make a funny face. He grabs your finger really tightly. It's a cute baby. I heard all about the conversations that this baby's mother had with her mother-in-law, the usual stuff where the mother-in-law keeps butting in and doing things that are unnecessary and the mother wants her to stop doing whatever it is she's doing but doesn't want to cause a scene or upset the mother-in-law who is only trying to be helpful and pass on the wisdom gained from having loads of kids a long time ago.

I heard all of this and a lot more and it was all too much. I don't care about babies. They're no use to me unless they can walk and talk. Until then they hold little interest. This applies to pretty much all babies. If and when my sister has one then it will be different. I'll care about that one but even then I might not be interested in the noises it makes and the faces it pulls. All babies do this. If a baby didn't do that, then that would be something. That would be interesting. I'd like to meet a baby that raised a sardonic eyebrow in reaction to all those people making funny faces at it. Like Stewie from Family Guy, but preferably without the psychosis. That's a baby I could get on with. But, failing that, I'm not interested. And I'm especially not interested if the baby in question has just been born to someone I don't know and I'm in a bad mood after an annoying journey to work. And this, after enduring ten ceaseless minutes of information about this baby and it's dysfunctional family, is what I explained to Kirsty:

"I'm going to have to stop you, Kirsty. I'm really sorry, but I'm in a shitty mood and can do without having to hear all about some fucking baby of some friend of yours who I've neither met nor will ever meet nor will ever care about. I'm sorry." It was at this point I saw the shocked look on Kirsty's face. "Oh God, I'm sorry I said that. I'm sorry."

She stood silent for a few seconds, apparently in disbelief. I'd never spoken to her like that before and I felt bad but the damage couldn't be undone. She left the room. I went to her desk about a half hour later and told her I was sorry I'd spoken like that, to which she said she didn't care, but I know she did. And I wasn't sorry really. I mean, I was sorry that I'd hurt her feelings, not that I'd said what I'd said. Given the same circumstances I'd do the same every time.

Babies are inherently uninteresting. No, that's not right. People find them interesting so they must be interesting. What I mean is that they are quite homogeneous. Admittedly, I haven't been paying much attention, but don't they all look similar and do the same stuff? Of course, they're special to their mother and fathers and families but to the rest of us....the CIA reckons that over 350000 children are born every day. How can something that happens that often remain a source of wonder? Still, I know I'm in quite a substantial minority with these views and am certain that I'll turn into a blubbering, gushing mess should the miracle of childbirth occur as a result of my actions.