Tuesday, 13 September 2011

12 September 2011. Letter 27

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 18.51 FGW service from Paddington to Oxford, 12/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: five minutes.

How now Mark? What's new, Sue?

It seems I was a little hasty yesterday with my protracted farewells, eh? Why, just last night, even as I fought my way to a seat on the train home, elbowing out grannies and vaulting over pregnant ladies, kicking the crutches away from war veterans and shoving aside crying children... even as I joined in the Paddington scrum, desperate and vengeful and ruthless in pursuit of a seat on the train, even as I did so, behind the bloodlust and the red mist, a little part of my mind reminisced about the fun we've had together.

Do you remember that time when you forced me to stare at a rainy Reading for 15 minutes? Or that other time when you forced me to stare at a rainy Slough for 15 minutes? Do you remember that day you forced me stare at a rainy Hayes and Harlington for 15 minutes? Or that other day when you forced me to stare at the back of the head of the bloke in front of me for 15 minutes? (That was quite a lot of times actually.) Do you remember that time? At band camp? When... actually, that was someone else, do excuse me.

Crazy days, Mark! Golden hours, Sue!

Anyway, as I say, it seems my reminiscing was somewhat premature. As any student of philosophy knows (and you're nothing if not a student of philosophy, Sue, that much is clear) one surely can't reminisce about something that is still ongoing, can one? How can you feel nostalgic about the present? Where's the logic in pining for the here-and-now? My train last night was delayed, Mark. The situation, as General James F. Amos, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, is so fond of saying, is ongoing. We have an ongoing situation, Mark. Incoming, Sue!

So. Five minutes it was last night. And hence the extraordinary precision and conciseness (concision? Sue?) of this letter. Expertly crafted to waste not a minute more or less of your own time in return. (Unless there's an unexpected delay, of course.)

And so that just leaves me room for an apology. (Not to you Mark, don't be daft. Nor to you, Sue, despite the pangs of my conscience and the aches of my heart.) No: I'm going to apologise to a group of what the young folk call "rock stars".

You see, Mark, it has become my habit in these missives to insert references and drop quotes from various films, poems, songs and whatnots - mostly to amuse myself, but also (I won't lie, Sue, you can read me like a book. And not a very good book, either. Certainly not Bravo Two-Zero by Andy McNab, for example) also to make myself look clever.

It's in the hope, Mark, that you might read a line like "I wasted time and now time doth waste me," and think I'm a bona-fide genius... and not just some jumped-up show-off who remembers a bit of GCSE Shakespeare. (I also do it because I have a kind of cultural Tourette's, but that's a story for another day.)

But here's the thing, lads. I met a man at the weekend (not like that, Sue! Please!) and I'm pretty sure he's pretty tight with one of the "rock bands" whose rather beautiful lyric I appropriated a letter or two ago. And he spotted it, Mark! He knew it wasn't me!

Which got me thinking... what if the "rock band" themselves saw it? What if they got their rock band lawyers onto me? What if they came round my house with their electric guitars and their roadies and their hordes of groupies and their wistful, lilting folk-pop melodies and totally duffed me up for plagiarising their poetics?

It's scary, Mark! It's real life and it terrifies me!

And so I'd like to make an apology to them. That thing about conkers and the air getting cooler and stuff - it wasn't me. It was them. And I think they're ace. Sorry. Please don't duff me up. For the love of God, call those groupies off!

Phew! Close one eh, Sue?

Au revoir!



  1. Classic Partridge. Love the reference.

  2. Stornoway will av ya

  3. Not quite as scary or impressive a slogan as "KLF is gonna rock ya", but point taken. And besides, there's at least four of them. Not a fair fight.