Twenty Years of Boredom by David Roberts

To think he had thought the onion near essential as thumbs. That he had once dismissed all realists as false, considered Philip Larkin a minor poet. Life moves on and we within would do well to remember ourselves objects, ever stuck, our principles such flux. Worrying now about each quid that he ruins. Decisions consigned as past having to be made again and yes again we’ll just be getting on with it. Money enough for scran or booze so buying a pizza and pocketing the wine. To think he had thought the onion near essential as thumbs.

Longsince twenty-six and each journey by public transport a minor niggle, some taunt enough to distract him in those minutes lapsed waiting for the bus. Even, even knowing, even with the knowledge that he should be above such words letting it affect him, minimally even, even if but a distraction, just a gripe. Suspecting it a throwaway comment, wondering over context. Those journeys too long for foot.

Daylight bleaching through the earlycusp of morning and his first hot drink steaming from the cup. Dreams in the night of a slightly disappointing sandwich. In his notebook an imitation moleskine copying out words, pages they’d called it at his school but for him now in this his time this time belonging to him it is not punishment so much as affirmation or plea bargaining, grasp towards hope.

Workboots on the doorstep so as not to muddy the house. He wonders about the sandwich. Was it too dry or over abundant with mayonnaise, craply sliced. So many ways to be disappointed. Idiots everywhere in this life. They do not offer returns so he gets a day ticket, never remembering whether they are called savers or rangers on this service, rovers maybe. Growing up near a county boundary so asking for a fare to the border and a day pass after that. No fizzy drinks allowed. Not punishment but plea bargaining.

To think a future could open up, some twisting of the forking paths through which this his notebook an imitation moleskine might be worth something, serious collateral. Becoming a higher state than being. Hemmingway’s stories misplaced on a train.

Home again tired worn thin. No longer amongst the scattergun insults of bricklayers, encumbered by the wheelbarrow. Really each day he should clean out the shower, do more than swill dirt from the bathtub. Grime thickening like guilt postponed. Washing-up a matter of appeasement, means of considering himself yet useful and civilised, some worthwhile property within the household. Such things to be done in that hour before collapse. His ordering of the task handed down, an inheritance from his mother, her mother beforehand. Glasses then cups, plates before cutlery. Living once with a man who went first for the pans, what his mother taught him. Was a sieve, where did the sieve belong in that lesson. What did Jim’s mother have to say. Now with it the sieve in hand and the end of the water, residual meats fixated on wire. Maybe it belonged before the ceramic, this sieve in his hand and not worth a fresh sink. Certainly it should have come before the baking tray. This sieve in his hands and the spongescourer gone soft, fat in the water solidifying white, the spongescourer soft consumed, useless, the scouring face of it abraded to ruin by past sieves, this same sieve but elsewhere, former, another sieve in time as he was then another man in time opening out so possible, with so much potential beyond sieves to be cleaned, fats mottled on dank water and his hands clammy soft with the sludge of this hour his time before collapse. Dreaming that it is he who makes the sandwich.

Still there clogged through the sieve come the morning as it bleaches struggles to bleach through nightborn mizzle. Workboots dampwaiting on the step. The sieve remaining as he himself remains himself a man with so many futures open and permissible, to be stepped into with spongescourer soft consumed, in damp workboots and this sieve to be cleaned, brought through the door and into mizzle in which it might be scrubbed again, achieve purpose. To think he had thought the onion near essential as thumbs.

Biographically speaking,  David Roberts is a writer, poet and artist currently based in Sheffield, England.

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