Saturday, 21 January 2017

Parable of the quarter pound

‪As a small boy I went to school with cotton wool plugs in my ears, a mother's boy-ridding measure against infection. And in the icy playground I met with other small boys also sporting such white ear tufts. And standing in the fog and damp that seeped into the soles of our shoes we responded from our noses with an oozing, permanent glacier-slow snot that crusted but never dried, a pearly mucus which retained a sort of waxing and waning quality keeping time with our mouth breathing. And it came to pass that the one amongst us with the most purulent of snots, a pouring luxury caramel snot, should also be the most generous and good hearted of our number. In a dilemma of the type that would be repeated in always more subtle forms across the decades of our maturation, we asked ourselves could we, should we, overcome our hesitancy before his prodigious suppurations, and take from his proffered, and ever-open but dirty, crumpled paper bag that contained a precisely measured sweetshop quarter pound? Should we accept just one more of his powdery but mud hard mix of chocolate and strawberry bonbons? He was boy whom we were ready to play out with, the boy to be encountered outside but not invited in. But in those days we were still prepared, like jays and magpies, to pluck the offered gift and then, in cruel revenge, giving full rein to both our disgust and our weakness, we would harry and laughingly swoop down upon him, pecking at him and mobbing.