Thursday, December 14, 2006
Lessons From Antiquity
"Happiness writes white." So said Henri de Montherlant . De Montherlant was a pederast with Nazi sympathies who killed himself in his seventies, so presumably the words flowed pretty freely. People tend only to remember him for this nifty little maxim, however, which will outlast the rest of his oeuvre and also perhaps the millions of words committed to paper by his more respectable contemporaries.
I'm in a good mood. Because it isn't yesterday; a day which was punctuated by disappointments, setbacks, reversals, third-party moaning and stress headaches. No-one wants to hear about that of course. Nothing's guaranteed to make you switch off quicker than someone else's tale of woe. Except perhaps someone giving you directions. Unless you can infuse your story with a heap of comic irony.
So yesterday a heavily pregnant woman 'phoned me every ten minutes for several hours to find out when her delivery would arrive. The delivery turned up while she was on the 'phone. She was not appeased.
"I've had to call twenty-five or thirty times to sort this out."
In truth that first 'phone call, the one where she found out that the goods were going to be with her on time and as promised would probably have satisfied most people.
No comic irony there, then.
I booked a courier at quarter-to-four to collect by five o' clock. I had decorating to finish at home so I was keen to get out on time. At quarter-past six, having been on hold for twenty minutes I'm told that my collection isn't going to happen because of an account query that has mysteriously arisen in the last two-and-a-half hours.
See? Not funny.
And in between I drifted from disaster to disaster like Candide, but without a friendly mentor to remind me that it was all for the best.
Today everything's copacetic¹, and even if it weren't I'd scarcely notice, because it's not yesterday.
I intend to spend this afternoon antiquing. It's soothing and makes me feels like a proper artisan. For the uninitiated the process consists of taking this:-
staining it with a tourmaline solution until it looks like this:-
Before relieving the surface back using a household cleaner (I prefer the lemon-scented variety) until you get this:-
Don't listen to dead French dudes. Happiness is an artfully antiqued doorknob.
¹In addition to the acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka by the Boston Red Sox reasons to be cheerful include the arrival of my T.M.... sorry, my daughter's T.M.X. Tickle Me Elmo in the post, Monty Panesar's Ashes debut and an invitation to free drinks at the Spitalfields Christmas do next Thursday. Hoorah for me.