Some people search for years to find out the reason they are here on Earth. Many have to “find themselves” in India or do amazing acts of daring and skill or join some religious cult or another. Others have to skydive down the Orinoco or whatever else it is they do these days. I had been listening to “Ed Reardon’s Week” on Radio 4 Extra this morning (which I heartily recommend, Ed Reardon, not Radio 4 Extra which is a seething mire of crappy radio comedies and light entertainment that should have disappeared ignominiously into the skip when Broadcasting House was recently renovated) and so was suitably edified with sarcastic energy and bonhomie until I realised that I was going to be late for work. However, upon jumping into the car, I realised that I was in dire need of petrol and would have to visit the filling station or else I was unlikely to make it to Bristol.
Now there is something about a Marks and Spencer’s filling station on the edge of a town on the edge of the Somerset levels that is particularly attractive, at 6 o clock in the morning, to a particular type of customer. The customer in question, a 60 something man with crumpled brown clothing driving an ageing Ford car which he, in his entitled state of being, had driven to the said filling station to purchase copies of both “The Sun” and “The Daily Mirror” and had parked directly in front of the entrance to the shop area so that he had even less distance to walk to purchase these fonts of modern knowledge.
It was upon this scene that I arrived, slightly flustered and in need of fuel.
One can only imagine the scenes of excitement that must have enacted when the man got home to his, one would expect, wife, to inform her that he had just seen “One of them” at the petrol station. That the situation amused him was easily deduced by his chuckles and pointing at me at the checkout, followed by nervous giggles of the equally antiquated checkout assistant and the white van man drivers queueing for coffees at the exorbitantly priced pastry counter. That he found great wonder and excitement at my appearance was further evidenced by his staring at me whilst I returned to my car £35 poorer and feeling shamed that the very sight of me was enough to cause such scenes of theatrical amazement. He continued to stare whilst Rennie (my suitably named Gallic vehicle) refused to start due to the inclemently cold English weather and conked out two or three times in my attempts to pull away.
I, as a result, now know my purpose upon this Earth. It was to provide early morning entertainment for the elderly gentleman. Now, many people would find this unsettling or unsatisfactory, but, I, on the other hand, am suitably satisfied and warmed by the certain knowledge that he, and many others like him, will soon be dead. Many may find my remarks macabre or insensitive, but to be honest my levels of understanding and consideration are slightly reduced as a result of this morning’s interactions.
I’m off now to get a coffee from the kitchen in work. Who knows what fun interactions and dealings are to be had in the day ahead? I will keep you posted.