13 June 2004
One of the finer and more amusing aspects to being Me - and you knew there had to be some, or why would I ever bother? - is that I get to observe my own behaviour with the same cynical naïvety, that same sardonic sensawunda that I bring to my proper study of mankind. As this, for example: that yesterday I went shopping twice, I watched a lot of cricket and the qualifying laps for the Grand Prix, I cooked a four-dish curry just for myself and made a farmhouse pâté and had a bath and read a book and still wrote two thousand words, which is more than my daily ration.
And wherefore all this frenetic busyness? Itís displacement activity, obviously. And given that Iím not displacing work, the natural question arises, what I am; and the answer is not far to seek, because my old friend Lellie is dead in Cornwall and my Chinese teacher is dead in Newcastle, next week could be a hectic progression from one funeral to another and I really, really do not want to think about that, so Iím not allowing myself the space to think it.
Actually, though, I think my own behaviour here is a microcosm, a metaphor for all of human history (if youíve got to think, think big...). Love and death are the great themes, in life as in literature; but the two things are almost the same thing, because love is really a displacement for death, just as everything else, everything less is. Whatever we build - families are the obvious example, but the same holds true from compost heaps to cathedrals, from embassies to empires, from roads to reputations to religions - itís all gesture politics, carving our initials in the bark, to leave some trace of passing once weíve passed.
And I still have two funerals to go to; and I deeply regret that I will end up going to one and not the other, and it will be the wrong one; and I really donít want to think about it. Back to work.
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.