“The Mundane Adventures of Arthur Clipp”
Arthur was awoken from a pleasant dream by the morning alarm. The insistent ringing filled his head and drove out the glorious details of whatever had been in there barely a minute ago.
Drawing the curtains, he was greeted by leaden clouds and raindrops tapping on the window pane. The neighbourhood looked like it was coated in a grey film, but not in a nostalgic way. Looking down at the murky puddles on the pavement below, Arthur decided not to wear his good clothes today.
Breakfast tasted like dust in his mouth. Another couple of hours in bed would be good for the appetite, he mused.
The bus was late again. Arthur stood forlornly at the bus stop, getting wetter and more despondent with every passing minute. There had been a car accident further ahead, causing tailbacks. It looked like Arthur was going to be late again.
The journey over at last, he switched on his computer, knowing full well that this antique would take about 15 minutes to start up. He’d asked for a new machine months ago, but nobody paid attention to junior staff here in the office. Those pigs higher up the food chain had state-of-the-art hardware, yet they probably switched on their computers once a week, at most.
So many e-mails to get through, but so little time! The telephone was ringing off the hook. To be fair, most of those who called were perfectly reasonable, but Arthur resented them nonetheless, simply for cutting into his time. He also resented getting up early, having only an hour for lunch and having to be nice to colleagues, when he’d much rather rip out their eyeballs and make a necklace out of their teeth.
On top of this, poor Arthur had to sit through some pointless hour-long meeting in which managers blamed each other (or him) for everything that went wrong in the company. All problems, no solutions. When he finally got out, the list of unread e-mails was back to its 9 o’clock level.
Things quietened down around 4 pm (as well they should!), so Arthur took the opportunity to chat up that attractive blonde in Marketing. Georgina was a fine catch, alright. He wondered what life would be like if they were married. He went over to her department on some false pretence, smiled and said hello.
They got talking about travel and holidays, as people often do. For the most part, Arthur listened and nodded. Georgina wanted to go backpacking, travel around India or thereabouts, see a bit more of the world. She went on and on about how her cousin went on a voyage of self-discovery to Nepal, where he got in touch with his spiritual side, or some such nonsense.
Arthur drily pointed out the practical considerations of exotic holidays, such as dysentery, yellow fever and kidnap. Had she ever thought about a lovely weekend break in a country inn? You didn’t need immunisation jabs for a jaunt in the rural England, he went on.
Georgina was not impressed. She looked at him as if he had defecated over her grandmother’s grave. Clearly, the ‘cool’ thing to do was to camp out in a jungle and live in your own filth, while mosquitoes helped themselves to several pints of your blood. Arthur liked his creature comforts far too much to throw them all away for the small chance of having sex with this woman. It was clear that the ship had sailed on this one.
Would he ever find true love? All of his college friends had settled down, married and had children, while he’d had nothing but a handful of failed relationships and near misses. Perhaps he was being too selective. Perhaps he was in the wrong town, or even the wrong country. “Plenty more fish in the sea”, they’d tell him. Arthur suspected he was casting his net in the Sargasso of romance and that it was time to set sail for new horizons.
We spend our lives in a mad rush, seemingly. Where do people find time for love? There’s plenty of time to muse over these things when you’re too old and ill to work. But by then, it’s too late to do anything, and all those hours you spent working late and missing out on the chance to meet that special someone will have been for nothing. With this in mind, Arthur returned home that day tired and worn out.
After dinner (for one), he logged on to the Web to check his e-mails. He was offered unbeatable deals on Canadian medicine, laser eye surgery and the chance to win money on some casino website. He began looking at some pictures of young women in various states of undress, when his best friend Mickey sent him a message. In truth, he didn’t really like Mickey. The man was a terminal bore who only talked about his sex life and only listened to college rock. He was a bad listener with poor personal hygiene and his girlfriends were all fat, myopic harridans. Nevertheless, Arthur was pleased to hear from him, as he had few friends left in the world.
“Fancy meeting up downtown, later?” Mickey asked. “Apparently, there are gonna be loads of fit women in the Metropole”. Arthur considered this for a moment. Mickey might be telling the truth. It could be the best night of his life. Good music, dancing, flirtation, perhaps a new telephone number to take home with him, and with it, the prospect of a romantic liaison. However, this was rarely how it ended. 99% of the time, he’d find himself overdressed and underwhelmed. Mickey would hog the jukebox and bore him to tears with more sordid details about his relationships. The music would be too loud, the beer would make him nauseous and the few attractive women there would not even give him a second glance.
Arthur decided to give the Metropole a miss. “Er, actually, I think I’ll stay in and watch the football. I’m not really up for it, tonight.” “You’ll be missing out, mate,” Mickey replied. Somehow, I doubt that very much, Arthur thought to himself.