Friday, January 01, 2010


I tuck into my third pint of Staropramen, and feel all becoming right with the world and warmth returning to my aching feet. We sit in the Red Lion at Avebury, having earlier spent three hours outside waiting for the sun to set and autumn to end. The bright late-autumn sun wasn’t able to lift the frost, ice or residual snow, and nor was it strong enough to prevent the cold being nothing short of painful as I nodded politely to wiccans talking about energies and waited for the shadows to creep round the anciently elegant sundial.

At that moment though, I am warm again, and ever so slightly drunk. All is well.

A ruddy-faced man in a high-visibility jacket prowls into the bar, bristling.

“Ooze blue Nissarn is thaa in the carr park?” he barks. “The carr park done shut an aar argo, an I’m freezing my nadgers out thur weeting.”

I settle back into my seat; this doesn’t involve me.

“Shit,” mutters my companion, and driver. She signals apologetically to the angry man, and I remember actually yes, it does involve me.

“Ye needs to move tha’ roight naw. Oi couldarv had tha’ toowed,” rants the angry man, meeting each apology with another tirade, before storming back out into the night.

We gather our things, and I sink my pint in a couple of gulps, increasing my slightly-drunk status to Dizzy. A barman who witnessed our telling off and is just finishing his shift kindly offers us a lift. It’s not far to walk, but we don’t like to think what the angry man might do if we keep him waiting any longer.

The barman’s car is frozen shut, and we strain fruitlessly, trying to open the doors. Eventually I pry mine open, lie across the front seats, bend my legs, and force the driver’s door open with my feet. We all leap aboard, and barman finds that, with his car needing to reverse up a slope, it is too icy for the car to do anything but rev loudly, and slide pathetically from side to side.

“I will get out and push!” I pronounce, a tactic I know to be futile even before I begin, my boots being unable to get anything like enough grip on the ground needed to afford any leverage. I am acutely aware that this kind offer of a lift is actually turning into a huge waste of time, and as I strain against the car’s weight, I think back to a psychologist I once knew who spent his days sat in an office in Bloomsbury devising ways to test people’s tendency to bloody-mindedly continue investing in a solution even when the costs had come to equal the benefits. I ponder on the mixture of the cold air, alcohol and exertion that is probably triggering these long unthought thoughts – it’s a funny old thing, the brain – and with a final push and exclamation of “The sunk costs fallacy! Arkes and Blumer!” I decree that the car – and the kindly barman – are going nowhere.

We trot along in the dark – the waxing crescent on a cloudless night not providing much light to see by – punctured by slips and squeals. Eventually the darker mass of the car looms in front of us, but not until we nearly crash into it. There is no time to deal with the frost, and we drive off, mostly blind.

“Don’t run over the angry man,” I suggest.

We see the angry man glowering by a gate. Still a bit drunk, I wind down my window to wave. He does not look at us.


Gary said...

Massive. Hippy. Alert.

and here was me worrying a few years ago you were abandoning your socialist credentials to become a Nasty Piece Of Work

Your friend,

Shane said...

Gesture upon gesture of goodwill and support. And all so futile, too. My most favourite kind of blog post.

Wishing you well for 2010...
Relaxed women
And peaceable men.