Things I don’t have and don’t want


Those are just a few of the things that I prefer to live without that some seem to regard as essentials. There's plenty of other things I don't have and don't want.

My ideal would be to own no more than could fit into a small rucksack. I tell a lie, probably my ideal would be to have a few things in the meantime but have a big hole standing by I could shove everything in that didn't fit into a small rucksack, at a moment's notice, that I could then walk away from without a second glance. I haven't ruled out that this may be called 'rented accommodation' (I don't own a house), but one doesn't like to leave a mess behind for others to clear up so I'm always getting rid of things, whittling down the burden of material possession. Just in case. Just in case I need to leave. At short notice. With no more than I can carry, and not too heavy either. Just bare essentials. Though I don't keep a small rucksack ready-packed or anything. It would take me at least half an hour to gather together my small clutch of essential things and close the door behind me and never come back. That's way too long. You could erect a cordon in that time.

Sometimes a fire can do you a favour in this respect, showing you you can get out the house quick if you really have to, and the excess baggage is automatically taken care of. Only drawback is that you might end up with less than a small rucksack full of things worth keeping. And maybe not even a rucksack. Just a dressing gown.

I've fantasised about getting a metal or plastic box and putting a few important things inside it in a totally watertight bag. I have a bag like that, for keeping my clothes and sleeping bag dry in my rucksack. And then I'd take the box and bury it in the back garden. Then it would be safe from fire and thieves. And if there was a fire I'd just rush out, in my dressing gown, and stand around in the street with cold feet, twiddling my thumbs while the fire brigade put the fire out in the middle of the night. Then I would go and retrieve my secret stash of stuff buried in the garden, safe even from a flood. There'd be a garden spade already left out there to dig it up with, don't want to be foiled by an oversight like that. I'd warm my bare feet in the ashes, wipe the ashes off in the wet grass, dry them on a small towel from the box, then pull on a pair of clean socks, a full set of clothes, followed by walking boots, all from the box. Don't ask me why, but I have daydreams about getting dressed in steaming rubble and charred remains in the twilight before dawn that seem so natural to me. And then I would walk off into the sunrise with my rucksack, from the box. That's the end of that life, I'd say to myself, maybe stopping off at one of the early opening shops for a little pouch of tobacco, using money from the box. It's called planning. Not that I smoke at home any more.

Years ago, when my garden backed onto a lot of other gardens, I saw a man burying a large box by his rhubarb patch. He was looking around furtively with every step on the spade. He saw me looking and stared at me, as if to say 'what business is it of yours?'. A few neighbours were twitching the net curtains from the bedrooms. Perhaps everyone who buries a large box in their garden looks like a psycho burying a torso. As for one who digs up a box after his house has just burnt down and puts on a fresh set of clothes from it and walks off, I have considered some might find that fishy.

I don't know why I find 'things' so oppressive. I can understand why tools that have more than one function, like a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman, are so popular. Compressing all that usefulness into one small place is appealing. But now you can't take these things on a plane any more, even those have become useless for the hand-luggage-only traveller. Pity. I like tools.

I am pondering getting a Gladstone bag, it may have more style than a small rucksack. Jack the Ripper is supposed to have had one. Kept his tools in it. But it would be good for hand luggage, so long as there weren't any knives in it, just a sweater, a few shirts, socks, a small umbrella, plasters, scissors for beard trimming. Can you take small scissors on planes any more? As hand luggage I mean, wouldn't have any other sort of luggage. I have a very sharp pair formerly used for dissecting frogs. They're great. Really good pair of scissors. When I grew up it seemed my parents were forever fated never to own a good pair of scissors, they would always be drawn to cheap and nasty pairs of scissors, so I know what it's like to be deprived of good scissors.

My excellent pair of scissors I absent-mindedly put in my pocket in a biology lab once. Okay I stole them, bad karma attaches to them. I once cut my ear with them, that's evened it out I think, unless I blind myself with them one day. Anyway, it made me realise how easy it would be to cut off an ear with a pair of scissors as sharp as these. Can't afford to do too much clippety-clip you'd soon have a nostril gone they're so sharp. Can you take things like that on planes? I expect not. If you have to rely on a crappy pair you buy when you land in some godforsaken hole in the Third World that's a real pity. Twenty years trimming a beard with a good pair of scissors, the same pair, isn't something easily given up, that's as hard to give up as the pebble Grasshopper eventually managed to whip out of the hand of the old blind master in Kung Fu. He kept it in his shoe and just chucked it away one episode, it was very emotional. Attachment is strong, but it was just a pebble. I have a pebble I'm fond of on my mantelpiece right now, a three-sided prism-shaped pebble, a dreikanter, eroded that way by the sea found on the beach at Rhyl one year as a child on a Methodist Sunday School outing and later in my 20s after too much acid came to believe was the very pebble mentioned as being given to one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation, I forget which one, I wanted to be the First but the Second was okay too. That was a time, what a game that was. Anyway, all this to say you can get attached to a good pair of scissors. I don't want to use a pair you can hardly cut paper with. I'd probably have to grow a big long beard if I was on the road and couldn't take my scissors with me just in case I crashed a plane with them. I had a big long beard once, until some youth on the top deck of a bus shouted out from the back: 'Hey Catweazle get a shave!' No use if I'm not invisible any more, I thought, shave it off, blend back in, recede from the glances of strangers until I no longer see my reflection in shop windows. Shortly after that it dawned on me that the shops lining the high street were just a façade, and there was absolutely nothing behind them, and because I never went in any of them I never saw the need to think any differently. The thing was, it just didn't make any difference, life went on the same as always, it didn't matter what incredible things I could persuade myself to believe that bucked the trend of the consensus, day still followed day and I just drifted off somewhere equally as feasible as it was equally unreal. Looking back, I lived the whole of my 20s in a fable. In my 30s I passed through a sequence of events which can now more or less fit into a matchbox in comparison with the spaciousness of my present moment. Things happened, apparently, but it may as well have been a film I watched for two hours. I have spent all my life doing my own thing, I can't imagine that is going to change. Meanwhile, in America, people are wondering who will be the next president, this idiot or that idiot, as if it really matters. That's a paper-thin world if ever there was one, shimmering like a mirage, pictures on a television viewed through a heat haze, and while people are glued to it they do not notice what's happening in the distance, something that will make them run like a herd of stampeding buffalo when they get first wind of it but just another day to those who left some time ago.

Or was it all just a dream… like that spooky one I had several nights ago… I was at some place where dark occult rites were going on and I noticed a faded newsclipping on the wall, there was a picture of my bedroom from the 80s, there was a story about something that had happened there, something really weird had happened there. It looked like the photo had been taken just after I left, there's one of my bookcases with some books left in it. It's like a clue to something deeply occult about my past. I can track this down, this is a real object, a clipping from a newspaper, there'll be a date, that's why I'm here now, at this rite, solely to see this clipping on the wall. But then I think why have they put it on the wall, what does this place shown in the photo mean to them, do they know who I am, do they know this is my room? I can't seem to read what it says. I turn to one of them, he feels like an enemy or he would be an enemy if he knew who I was, and point to the clipping and say do you know about this, what happened in that room? I want to hear what this clipping means to these people, and I want to know it at what appears to be the high point of the rite. But he doesn't hear me. He's reading an incantation from a book, yet also simply sitting on a window ledge as if browsing in a bookshop. And because he doesn't hear me I think this is lucky for me, since it was a mistake to express interest in the clipping, faded and forgotten as it is. And I tear the clipping from the wall quietly and put it in my pocket. But I wake before I know what the clipping said, quite unaware it had been a dream, only realising it was a dream as I was writing about it in the notebook by my bed. I thought the clipping was right there beside me, so smooth was the transition between the dream and waking reality. And I think, the river of our lives runs underground all the time through alternative realities and parallel dimensions that form one whole continuum that is merely fragmented on this surface most recognise as constituting some sort of consensus reality, even though everyone is isolated in their own little worlds and bound only by the false glue of mass media, which if it is rejected soon gives rise to other realities, such as now the shadows of the leaves fluttering in sunlight on my drawn curtains after being lost in words most of the night, a contrivance and wild-goose-chase after meaning to envisage an open space in a town where men are playing croquet on lawns and a cadenza of composition reaches its climax in the forceful defoliation of a tree in the harsh autumn wind while the radiator burns on one side of the body and the muscles. Finally. Relax. The dizzy spell of consciousness fizzes like bicarb of soda. Gooseberries are no longer in season. A pug dog sniffs a puffball in the woods. Slob volleyball.