Friday, May 04, 2007

Angling away from everlasting idiocies

I briefly took time out from winning hearts and minds in Cairo’s music community this week to quit my job on Wednesday – a decision which should have been taken two months ago I realised, as I tap-danced my way out of the office into the arms of the gardener. And semi-unemployment.

Tuesday was a public holiday because of May day and Forsooth and I profited by paying exorbitant amounts of money so I could sit by a hotel’s pool and create a glare visible from outer space with my whiteness. While eating a 50 LE nouvelle cuisine-sized portion of fish and chips in such a way so as to ensure that not even its aroma escaped consumption (but drawing the line at licking the plate) I read Orwell’s Coming Up for Air, and came across the passage below, in which the protagonist reminisces about his abandoned childhood love of fishing. It resonated with me hugely. And Seneferu, who requested a review of the book: it is wicked.

Here I’ll make a confession, or rather two. The first is that when I look back through my life I can’t honestly say that anything I’ve ever done has given me quite such a kick as fishing. Everything else has been a bit of a flop in comparison, even women. I don’t set up to be one of those men that don’t care about women. I’ve spent plenty of time chasing them, and I would even now if I had the chance. Still, if you gave me the choice of having any woman you care to name, but I mean any woman, or catching a ten-pound carp, the carp would win every time. And the other confession is that after sixteen I never fished again.

Why? Because that’s how things happen. Because in this life we lead – I don’t mean human life in general, I mean life in this particular age and this particular country – we don’t do the things we want to do. It isn’t because we’re always working. Even a farm-hand or a Jew tailor isn’t always working. It’s because there’s some devil in us that drives us to and fro on everlasting idiocies. There’s time for everything except the things worth doing. Think of something you really care about. Then add hour to hour and calculate the fraction of your life that you’ve actually spent in doing it. And then calculate the time you’ve spent on things like shaving, riding to and fro on buses, waiting in railway junctions, swapping dirty stories, and reading the newspapers.


Basil Fawlty said...

I love Orwell--so sorely underappreciated (1984 is my favorite novel, but there's so much more to the man). Have you read Keep the Aspidistra flying? They made a (decent) movie out of it called A Merry War with Helena Bonham-Carter and Richard E. Grant.

Speaking of Richard E. Grant, have you ever seen Withnail and I?

Basil Fawlty said...

Oh, and I've never read Coming Up for's negotiating it's way through the belly of the beast as we speak.

Forsoothsayer said...

more noteworthy stuff happened that day! rhinos! who brought their own speakers!

Seneferu said...

Thanks, luv:)

Beautiful passage, it resonates strongly with me as well.

Amnesiac said...

Basil: No I haven't read Aspidistra, and neither have I seen Withnail, despite the fact that it is de rigeur for students and I was a student for approximately 200 years.
Let me know what you think of Coming Up for Air when you get round to reading it.

Forsooth: I am trying to erase the memory of that oaf from my memory.

Seneferu: Luv!! lol

Seneferu said...

lol sorry about that. That's what happens when I decide to comment after an evening out at a barty. I'll put it on a list of things I shouldn't do.

Amnesiac said...

No no be my guest! It just made me laugh.

Amir said...

Great Passage,

I am inspired to pick up the book and begin reading it. I am reading a fantastic book about the Arab-Israeli from a Jerusalem correspondant for the Wall St. Journal. The book is called Jerusalem 1913, and her theory is that the conflict began then, during the last years of the Ottoman empire, as opposed to the long held theory that trouble started brewing during the British Mandate and the beginings of WWII. Very good book, and doesn't read like history, she writes from the perspective of three powerful Jerusalem families. One Arab political, one Arab Jewish/Secular, and one European Zionist. Don't know why I just said all of this, i'm just really enjoying the book and decided to share!

Have you decided to take up writing then since you quit your job?

Amnesiac said...

Please do share, I love book recommendations.

On a similar theme I read A Peace to End All Peace ages ago and enjoyed it a lot.

Yes I will be concentrating on the writing...