No, don’t worry. I’m not thinking about attaching a hoover pipe to the car exhaust and gassing myself. Or indeed casting myself into the River Leam with my clothes left by the roadside accompanied by a note reading “goodbye cruel world”. (Given the Leam I’d be more likely to die by poisoning than drowning anyway).
I’m talking about that urge that most of us get at one time or another to stick your head above the parapet. To go “over the top” in World War I parlance. To deliberately step into the gun sights of assassins that you know are just waiting for an opportunity to take a pop at you.
For years, man and boy, I’ve been one of the shrinking violets. One of those conscientious people that, if alive 200 years ago, would have doffed their hat to Dorcas Lane and spoke in hushed tones of the quality toffs that lived in Candleford. I’d like to blame my working class upbringing. I know my place and all that crap. But actually that’s rubbish. When I was a kid being working class was already about cocking a snook at the middle and upper classes and speaking of them scathingly in the snug of the local pub.
But nevertheless I was brought up to respect those in authority over me. Not just to respect but also not to question. That’s quite a telling distinction.
I’ve never been able to rid myself of that whole thought process – that mind trap – until recently.
I don’t know what’s happened over the last few years – well, I do: I’ve had kids, finally got my University degree, had experience of running my own fledgling business – but suddenly that invidious bit of mind programming has been broken. The algorithms no longer work for me.
And the inherited fear that was part and parcel of that mindset has also dissipated.
I’m suddenly thinking so what? I’m suddenly questioning not just why but also why should I? Why me and nobody else?
And best of all: isn’t there something better? Why not do what I want to do?
It’s a heady brew all this jumping around with a big target painted on my chest. Years ago my natural sense of self preservation would have had me diving into the nearest Anderson Shelter. Now I want to just shit down the air-hole of everybody else’s.
I’m starting to realize that in some [bad] situations you actually have very little to lose if it all goes tits up. So why worry? Why care? Why take it?
But don’t worry. I might be mooning at the enemy troops out here in No Man’s Land but I have no intention of putting a pistol to my own head either.
I’m just saying that the smile on my face is a knowing one. Not an insane one.