COLUMN: November 9, 2017

The Good Place
This is The Good Place, a programme I currently cannot watch, which is proof I am not in The Good Place

I AM currently working on a Super Secret Project that I cannot tell you about because I am the sort of person who likes telling half a story and then making you guess the rest.

But it means that I am spending quite a lot of time in my flat, with only the occasional foray for supplies or to go to work to do my actual job for eight hours.

I have been unusually productive because I have been without internet for 10 days. But this is not one of those digital detox columns people with children called Tamara and Hugo write.

The lack of internet is because my supplier is unable to get its story straight as to why my connection is down, and has a call centre in India with an impenetrable script and an aversion to straight answers.

If I asked them what day it was they would tell me, “I am appreciative that you wish to know what day it is and I am wishing to reassure you that I am immediately going to escalate your query. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Lack of internet, of course, means lack of Netflix, which means that my series obligations are mounting up. I am not sure I will ever catch up, or will be able to have a conversation in work ever again.

Lack of Netflix also means that I have to rely on Normal Telly. Normal Telly during the day is the worst thing. It is mostly cheap documentaries about people who have enough money to buy second houses doing them up. And then they rent them out to people who can’t afford to buy their own houses, because there aren’t enough houses, because people are out there buying second houses.

All of this is to say that I have mostly been spending the past week or so in my own company. And now I feel terrible for all those people who have previously had to spend time in my company, because it turns out I am dreadful.

Firstly, it appears that I talk to myself, pretty much constantly. Behaviour I would shun if somebody were doing it on the bus is apparently A-OK when I am doing it in my flat.

I noticed how much I was doing it a couple of days ago, when I embarked on a running commentary on emptying the washing machine and hanging up my pants and socks on a clothes horse.

“Right, just get these out of the machine. Where’s the little detergent bowl? Oh, inside this sock. How did it get in there? We’ll never know. Take them over here. Oops, dropped one. And another one. Just dump them here. Go back for the other two. Put these pants on the clothes horse. What? How is this a clothes ‘horse’? Who invented a standing rack for drying clothes and then said, ‘Hmmm, what shall I call it? You know, it reminds me of a horse, because this is a thing that exists and horses are also things that exist’. Hang on, I should have two brown socks…”

Secondly, it appears that I have become unapologetic about making involuntary noises. I had previously been conditioned to apologise after, for argument’s sake, burping, and did so even if nobody was around. But now I was doing it freely, lavishly, without embarrassment. This is bad because what if I brought this behaviour into the public arena?

There was only one thing for it. I had to rejoin humanity. And where better than the cinema? The cinema is just like a big Netflix, except it shows films you might want to see rather than what was left in the video rack at the back of the off-licence.

I sat alone in the back row, but not for long. I was joined by a group of young men who had all come to the conclusions that Lynx was an adequate substitute for a shower, and that cinema etiquette – in essence, sit down and shut up – was a bourgeois convention from which we should all be freed. It was like sitting next to gibbons, but gibbons given to speculating what might happen next in the film.

It was the right thing to do. Because it made me feel so much better about my enforced solitude. I might be the sort of person to tease you with half a story, but at least I don’t want to punch me.

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