He was sitting opposite me; we were en famille having an early Christmas dinner. He’s a quiet man who likes to take walks along the east coast of England. He gazes at the seascape-skies and the grey-green waves of the North sea. He has dark brown eyes and he is well-liked – even though he admits to being ‘antisocial’. ‘Antisocial’ is an emotionally charged word; it might be more accurate to say that he simply doesn’t feel comfortable in the presence of other people. He avoids most social contact.
He’s reserved; he’s relatively diffident and he’s certainly reluctant to volunteer his opinions. He’s not usually forthcoming. In fact he’s not forthcoming at all. He’s almost an enigma. None of this diminishes his quiet charm. A certain mystery attaches to him. Strangely enough although his characteristic expression is doleful there’s a sparkle in his eye. His name is Christopher.
Christopher A. is 67 years old.
During the meal he suddenly declared:
‘I’m told that up to the age of five I was a happy child.’
That’s about all he said.
I found myself wondering if he had spent the last 62 years feeling unhappy.
Was it something to do with Demis Roussos?
The television had just shown us a list of people who’d died this year. Demis Roussos was among them – and I was thinking of him. But the chances of thinking about Demis Roussos had been greatly increased because I was holding a dish of tzaziki in my hand. The dish of tzaziki was en route to the ‘fridge.
As I moved towards the ‘fridge I held, in my mind, a conversation with my cousin Nicola.
Why such a conversation? Well, Cousin Nicola would soon be coming to my home for Christmas dinner; she would be accompanied by her mother, my aunt. Both have a great sense of humour and both have lived long enough to know that Christmas dinner rarely goes off smoothly – rarely goes off without some major or minor disaster. And, in the imaginary conversation, cousin Nicola was asking me if anything had gone wrong with the preparations for the Christmas dinner. By way of reply I heard myself saying: ‘Well, there were no problems except I dropped the dish of tzaziki.’ Of course, I and everyone else knows that no one ever has tzaziki for Christmas dinner (except perhaps the late Demis Roussos) so I knew it was just an imaginary conversation. It struck me that there was something funny about telling cousin Nicola that I had dropped a dish of tzaziki.
As I moved nearer to the fridge I did, in fact, drop the dish of tzaziki. Splat went the tzaziki.
It’s not good to drop a dish of tzaziki especially on a just-washed-and-polished kitchen floor – as well as over the sleeves of one’s ‘best’ jersey.
How strange! A moment earlier pure phantasy; now – stark reality.