You can tell a lot about a person from their attitude to weather.
‘This country,’ said Strange Martin, shaking his head at the light drizzle.
‘I know. Wonderful, isn’t it?’ I replied, reaching for my pint.
‘Doesn’t anything annoy you, Raider?’ said Martin, a man who could quibble in Paradise.
‘Your constant mithering?’ I offered, and he fell into blessed silence.
I did once have a splenetic rant about overcharging on Oyster cards, but Martin has a point. The general picture one has of a Deserter – justly, I think – is that of a placid character. Placid, benign, good-humoured and possibly wearing odd socks or a funny hat because, you know, they just didn’t look in the mirror.
A Deserter, you might expect, will have the air of someone who has concluded that when it comes down to it, life is but a lunatic twinkle, a brief and preposterous festival of lust and egos, and that in the absence of a master plan – or indeed any plan – ‘messing about’ is the only rational response.
‘Shirk, rest and play,’ as someone once said. Oh, that’s right, it was us.
It is perhaps surprising, then, to discover that this simple, zen-like existence can indeed be soiled by foul tempers, blackened by odious moods. The path to happiness, even for the enlightened slacker, is littered with testing obstacles, like some sort of dotty steeplechase, albeit one with a pub at the end of it.
So what are these thorns in our flesh, these stones in our sandals, these wasps in our beer? Let us take a look at what might darken the disposition of even the hardened Deserter. Let’s get angry. Or at least do some tutting.
Try this little experiment. Go for a day-time nap – any time, it doesn’t make a difference – lay your beautiful head on the fresh pillow and start counting. Before you reach 20 there will invariably start the noise of some cunt hammering.
‘To a man with only a hammer, everything is a nail’, said someone once, clearly equally frustrated in their attempts to chillax. What are they building? Nobody knows. When will it be finished? Never. What are we to do? Stave in their brittle skulls with said hammer.
Hard fried egg yolk
In the UK we don’t make the US distinction of ordering eggs ‘sunny side up’, ‘over easy’, ‘over medium’ or ‘over hard’ for one simple reason: No matter what happens with the flipping, the default required consistency of egg yolk is ‘runny’. Otherwise what are we expected to dip our chips in?
We’re sorry (we’re not), but if you overcook the egg yolk, you must do another one. That is Deserter law.
Oddly, being sprayed by the sweat and sputum of lycra-clad health freaks jogging on the spot behind us while waiting to get through a bottleneck on the South Bank is not why we came out for a stroll. Dude, really, London is not your personal gym, it is our playground and your puce phizog, hot breath and sodden, garish outfit is putting us right off lunch.
Overpriced keg beer
£4.50 for a half? Are you asking for a slap? Why is it twice the price of cask beer, which actually requires on-site conditioning? It’s keg, for crying out loud. It arrives in a big tin, you attach the gas and cooler and pour it. Why do I need a £50 note for a round?
Weekend engineering works
For some reason engineering works are scheduled for the weekend, when I actually want to get somewhere, for fun. All engineering works should be carried out between 5am and 10am Monday to Friday. What’s that you say? You’ll be late for work? Exactly, with a ready made excuse and eight solid hours of quality shut-eye behind you.
And while we’re at it, why is it that the only way to avoid paying an arm and a leg to get to the seaside on a train is by booking months in advance? Why are train companies trying to drag us into a rigid world of commitments and calendars? A Deserter doesn’t know what he’s doing this afternoon, let alone in 10 weeks time.
We are working on the Deserter Railcard, which explains to ticket inspectors that you are congenitally unable to book in advance and this is why you don’t appear to have a ticket (and offers a tenner for their understanding).
International football breaks
Just when you’re getting into the swing of things the football stops for two weeks and we’re forced to endure non-league-standard international fixtures. This month for example, after just three weekends of the Premier League season, a whole fortnight wastakenoff so that England could play Slovakia, a team they’d just played at Euro 2016 (and which had been a dour 0-0 draw). Next month it all stops again so England can play Malta.
Don’t get us wrong, we like the World Cup and understand the requirement to qualify. What we don’t like are the breaks. The answer is simple: Play these international fixtures as well as, not instead of, the regular season. No breaks required. Play them on a Friday afternoon or a Tuesday morning. It’s football giving something back.
Work: If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
Work, as distinct from endeavour, is the giving up of your time in exchange for living, and it’s knock-on effects are ruinous. Take mornings, for example. If you don’t have to get up, mornings are a wondrous catalogue of snoozes, stretches, tea, toast and pottering about looking for pants. But if you have to go to work, they become bouts of monstrous, socially-tolerated torture during which, even in the shower, all you can think about is when and where you can sneak forty winks later in the day, like an addict plotting a fix. Is this any way to start a day? To live your life?
With the introduction of the Deserter Basic Income all work will be voluntary, with salaries underpinned by a non-means-tested universal monthly payment. We have the finest minds working on the numbers as we write. In the meantime, please send money.
Toilet cubicles with doors that don’t quite reach the floor
Linked to the previous gripe, how in God’s name are we supposed to get some kip in the lavs if anyone can look under the door of our cubicle and see us curled up, using the toilet roll for a pillow?
At best, it’s fucking insensitive, at worst, it infringes our human rights. And now our application to have it classed as ‘Workplace abuse (sleep deprivation)’ in the European Court of Human Rights has, of course, been derailed by Brexit. Well, next time you’re put on a disciplinary for sleeping in the bogs, don’t come running to us, Britboy – this is the fascist Britain you voted for.
Private appropriation of public places
Don’t put up a fence and invite me to an opening of my own gaff, you soul-less, money-grubbing, municipal motherfuckers.
Many is the half-built spliff that has been scattered to the corners of the Earth by an unforeseen gust of bastard air, making wind the natural enemy of many Deserters. Steady drizzle on the other hand, despite Strange Martin’s moans, should be welcomed, requiring, as it does, one to take shelter under an awning, with a glass of something cold.
Reserved tables in pubs
‘Just to let you know, you’re fine for the moment, but this table has been booked for Ollie at 5.30…’
Oh, come off it. If there’s anywhere that should be a free-for-all, it’s the boozer. First come, first served is our mantra and if you don’t like it, try a restaurant.
Which brings us to closing time. Is it our imagination, or since 24 hour licensing was introduced have pubs’ opening hours been getting shorter and shorter?
Everyone’s aware, we’re sure, that although pubs can theoretically stay open until dawn, in reality it’s tough to find one open till midnight, especially on a Monday, when all the best people are out.
More insidious is the tendency for more and more pubs not to open until 4pm or even later. This is simply rude. As has been documented on these pages previously, our furious friend, Half-life, refuses to allude to such establishments as ‘pubs’ at all.
Pressed for an alternative, he came up with ‘Barseholes’, which has a nice ring to it.