Saturday, December 28, 2013

Smart Suit Day

If, indeed, I could explain the day itself, nestling as it seemed between Monday and Tuesday, I'd be a normal man - or a more normal man, able to return, in his smart suit, to his 9 to 5 office job. I was due in North London for a business meeting, one of the few that I'm now asked to attend - in contrast to a few years ago when there were many more, all over England ... but for some reason, there's not so much call these days for me to make visits outside the office. Being early (as was my wont) and not knowing the area at all well, I decided to rest my weary bones in Highgate Wood quite close to the venue of the meeting. 

This wood turned out to be a delightful green oasis of towering trees and twittering birds in the midst of relentless roads and gaping undergrounds - and as I settled down upon a bench, I could still hear the traffic on Muswell Hill Road ... a noise like some outraged (or outrageous) God muttering at my escape from his jurisdiction. 

The day was Monday. I'm certain the day was Monday ... except. an hour later, after I emerged from the secret garden (for that was how my mind had idealised this retreat) and following my typically apposite arrival for the meeting, I was informed by an officious receptionist that I had missed the meeting by one whole day. Indeed, once upon a time, there was a wood in the middle of a city which, for a specific day each year, had a sabbatical from time. It was forced to have this Awayday, since life in the city was otherwise unbearable. Thus, God allowed the wood's spirit-of-place to become an annual oasis of non-existence, where not even trees nor birds could disturb the peace let alone His own self-confessed grumbling attentions to its natural processes. 

Unlike death, which is probably the longest holiday of all, this day-break into nothingness could spruce up the trees and woodland paths, harmonise the birdsong and remove the litter which the local council had missed. Death, on the other hand, being the mother and father of a day-off, served very little purpose in itself, only encouraging those who believed in reincarnation to come out of the woodshed and prance about in smart birthday suits. Which is why, I suppose, they put me away. It wasn't because I was 24 hours late for the meeting, nor even for my strident shouts of "Blessed Be The Traffic And Its Wardens" - but the fact that I didn't have a stitch on (or in) ... even my wristwatch having disappeared (and my fingernails). All I can do is look forward to a sabbatical from madness, I suppose. 

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