Monday 17 December 2007

In a mad world only the crazy people know what’s going on!


Back from four exhausting and emotionally trying days in England, but with Dadley Adley still in hospital there’s a temporary feel to each day, hour, minute.
If all goes well and he comes home soon, I can relax, but if not, I’ll be back there again in a few days.
I’m all over the place. Splattered, scattered and shattered, that’s where I’m at this week, lost midway between my lovely life in Galway and my loving family in England.
Midway eh? So my soul is treading water just off the coast of Liverpool, is it?
Fair enough.
You’ll not get much sanity out of me this week, as if you ever did, but anyway, I’ve always felt that sanity is vastly overrated.
Find me a human being who has never declared aloud or silently wondered to themselves just what a crazy world is ours. Thus it makes sense, does it not, if we all agree our world is crazy, that crazy people are the only ones who know what is going on.
I’ve never really been attracted to sane people. All my friends and loved-ones are nutty as fruitcakes, in wonderful, interesting and sometimes challenging ways. As I’ve got older I’ve developed a talent for seeing the inner hidden nutter that lurks just under the surface of some people who still, to this day, regard themselves as sane.
In fact, they are now doubtless outraged that I have slurred them as less than sane; but were they not, I could not count them among my friends.
If only our forbears had had the foresight to listen to their loonies, instead of locking them up and making them walk around and around in circles in grey stone prison-hospitals.
Maybe the mad people of 1799 were muttering
“It ha would be ha wonderful if when ha they invent the aerosol ha ha ha, they didn’t use chlorofluorocarbons!”
“Tel them! Tell them!! You must tell them there will be no WMDs in Iraq!”
“Iraq irackky missy mack Iraq aq aq aq wackker dacker dack. Oh, you have to be careful to use the drop-down menu to select ‘No Insurance required’ on that Ryanair interwebby malarkey arkey dooby doo.”
So this week ‘sane’ is very totally oh-so absolutely last Millennia, and ‘crazy’ is the new ‘black’. Crazy turned out to be pretty handy, when last I had to keep a straight face, having just met a man who lived in Lickey End.
A gentle and wonderful nurse in my Dad’s hospital, the 20something lad had a bit of a local yokel combine harvestery oooo aaaaarrrr me lover accent about him, and so I asked him where he came from.
“Me? Oh, I come from Lickey End.”
Holding my childish breath to stifle my guffaw, I let my eyes bulge out a little too long.
Bless him, he had no idea that he had so amused me. Looking over at my contorted features, he reckoned that must be what I look like when I’m thinking, trying to work out where Lickey End might be.
“It’s in the West Midlands.” he offered.
By then I had settled down. My ‘Infantile Response To Humour Team’ had been arrested by the tiny but efficient ‘Adley Adult Assault Force’, and I was able to offer a little conversation.
“West Midlands, eh? Sorry, I thought I detected a South-West accent. No offence mate.”
“None taken!” said he, “And you’re right! I’ve got a strong Devon accent, because my mum comes from Pennycomequick, see?”
Staring into his eyes I detected not the slightest trace of irony. He was genuinely telling me the truth.
I can believe that this bloke might have gone through life never seeing anything the slightest bit funny in the fact that his mother came from a place called Pennycomequick, and he now lived in Lickey End. However, what I couldn’t quite buy was the chance of his going through life without anybody else having a laugh at his locational expense.
Back in the sad bad days of my youth, I used to drive over 1,000 miles a week around England, in my smart reppy suit in my zippetty-dippetty reppy car. During those dreadful years, I did take some solace from noting England’s wealth of eccentric and bizarre village names.
So I knew this guy was being straight.
But was he being just a bit too straight?
Just as the Drink Driving adverts on the tele advise us to always expect the unexpected, when faced with somebody who appears just too unbelievably sane and normal, I suspect the contrary.
Hah! Yes! Was that not a twinkle in his eye?
“C’mere!” say I, all of sudden sounding just a ton or two too Oirish for a good ol’ London boy, “Don’t suppose you’ve got a brother living in Great Cock-Up, have you?”
His eyebrows instantly lift, stretching his face upward into a smile.
“How did you know?”
“Oh, i don’t know! Just a feeling!“
“Yes, and I’ve got three sisters.”
“Have you indeed? Do they live together?”
”No, they live in Fry Up, Splat and Pity Me.”
Finally we relaxed and laughed together. He confessed to changing his home town as often as the sun pops out of a LOndon cloud.
“It helps me get through the day, and sometimes I get a laugh or two out of a patient. But I never let on, and if I don’t like the people, I can act quite offended if they have a laugh at what they think is my expense.”
Extraordinary behaviour. This guy was a professional. He had had me fooled completely at the beginning. Deep inside me, just when I most needed it, my love for the madness of our species burgeons anew.
I love our compassion, our imagination and our utter lack of regard for whatever normality might be.
Instead we seek whatever it takes to get us through, which is, in my experience, rarely sanity and sanity alone.
For five magical minutes, the nurse and I played at high speed a shouting exchange of all England’s strangest place names”
“Nob End! Great Snoring! Piddle!”
“What about Slack Bottom! Horneyman! Hackballscross!”
Right, but beat Pox! Or Twatt, for that matter!”
My own favourite? Ever enigmatic and mysterious, I wonder how life (or just simply the filling-in of forms) might be for the folk of Co. Durham, who live a town called No Place.

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