Look, I don't often do this sort of self-indulgent balls on the blog but I couldn't face any of the tabloids today. I bought the Guardian, wasting about a pound-odd on a TV guide and a free learn Italian CD (which actually is quite handy as I'm off to Italy next week) and couldn't bring myself to look through the Mail website, the Express, even the Times... do you know what I mean? Sometimes it's just easier not to poison yourself. It's like you can have a clean day, without the need to be infuriated by pointless lies, stupid columnists, nonsense statistics, miracle cures for cancer/ causes of cancer which are exactly the same thing, and so on, and so forth. You can reach teatime, or even longer, without thinking that there's anyone out there who'd wilfully be an ignorant bastard so long as it reinforced their existing prejudices. You can even reach darkness without imagining that every story, everywhere, about everything ever, is commented on in a nasty and invariably cruel way by some expat living in Spain or the UAE or somewhere like that, who hates Britain even though they don't live there, yet somehow are experts on every aspect of British life, despite only gleaning their knowledge of it through phone conversations with their witless friends as they park their enormous arses on cheap white plastic garden furniture and guzzle DOS KERVEZZOS MATE on the balcony of their gated residence, and the pages of the newspapers whose job it is to make readers hate the country they live in and hate themselves, pretty much, most of the time, for being too fat, or thin, or whatever it might be this morning, as it's bound to have changed by the afternoon.
You can avoid all that. You can just coast along in your Guardianista world, as I've done today, throwing away all the lifestyle shite out of the paper, pointless wank that it is, slightly missing the Robert Fisk / Howard Jacobson combo in the Independent (however much at loggerheads they might be) but generally seeing some news about stuff's that has happened, rather than aching nonsense about how foreigners are stealing all our bladdy jobs innit.
So with that in mind, I don't really have a blog post as such to write, but merely a story about J-Cloths, which I hope might interest you. I say 'interest' but it will no doubt just make you shrug your shoulders and think "What the fuck is that man on?" and turn the computer off with a snarl. For which I apologise in advance. I'm just saying that this really happened, and it happened to me, and I just wanted to tell someone about it. It's so banal that if I told anyone I knew then they'd just stare blankly as if to say "And...? And what?" and then realise there wasn't a punchline of any description, merely a void. And then they'd probably throw something at me, and I'd deserve it. But I can safely say I'm out of throwing distance of you, unless you have the misfortune to live next to me, in which case turn the fucking TV down, and stop coughing and banging on the wall all night, you'll get no sympathy from me.
So, there I was in Asda. I was buying various items, the nature of which needn't detain us, as it's slightly less relevant even than the point of the story. And there I was putting shopping into the carrier bags when I saw some J-Cloths heading towards me.
What kind of madness was this? I hadn't bought J-Cloths. I hadn't even been near the aisle where they sell J-Cloths. I didn't want J-Cloths - we've got the fuckers coming out of our eyeballs in this house. But no, there they were, heading down the conveyor belt. A bag of J-Cloths. I hadn't bought them. But there they were.
I looked at the couple behind me. Perhaps it was they who had bought the cloths, and they'd somehow vaulted over the "Next customer please" bit of plastic. But no. They showed no signs of interest as I picked up the bag of J-Cloths, which surely they would have done, had they been theirs. Wouldn't they? I elaborately held them up, as if to ask the question without asking the question. They could see what I was doing, but there wasn't a flicker.
Had someone put them in my basket without me knowing? I don't think so. I would have noticed. And besides, there wasn't enough room.
Had they been discarded by some previous customer, wedged up against the side of the conveyor belt? No. The person before me had bought a simple load of shopping - giant bottles of lemonade and out-of-date meat. Must have been party time down at the old folks' home or something.
No, these J-Cloths were mine. Was it some practical joke on behalf of the woman at the checkout? I don't think so. She seemed quite bored, and was hardly suppressing a giggle. No, it wasn't her. So how had they materialised from nowhere?
I don't know, but you know what I'm going to say now: I bought them. I didn't want them. I know we didn't need them. They were only about 18p or something, but I decided to buy them anyway. I bought things I didn't need, because it would be easier than trying to explain that I had put something down on the conveyor belt and then not wanted it. And then I put them in my bag, and I left. Why the hell did I do it? Why didn't I just leave them there?
Do you know what it was? I think I felt sorry for them. Honestly, that's the only explanation I have. I thought: Aww, little J-Cloths, all lost, ended up in my shopping. I might as well get them and bring them home. I did! It was sympathy for the anthropomorphised J-Cloth that made me think I'd take them rather than leave them.
Sympathy for J-Cloths. I've heard of bleeding-heart liberals but that really takes the bloody biscuit. What kind of fool am I? What kind of madness is this? I need to get back to reading the Mail, and quickly, to get the cynical juices going, or I'll end up bringing home pieces of plastic and dead beetles.
And there is no punchline. And that's the end of the story. But I'll be back to the tabloids on Monday. And I'll promise to take my brain out and give it a wash. I might even dry it on... well, obviously.
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