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Friend of Misery

“What are all these Coffee catch-ups or Tea-for-two? What the fuck? Why is everyone sitting in cafes drinking all this coffee and talking shit, I don’t get it. When I call in the club, I have a pint and then I’m off. People have got some stupid habits”. Prince

It is said that age does not come alone, this I can very much believe, it has also been said that, Prince was born old, and this I can believe in equal proportion. Besides possessing an appearance beyond his years, my father was also blessed with a mind-set that he has, inevitably, grown into. One of his childhood friends recently told me, “You think your father is getting older, he’s always been like that, since he was a kid. He was born old”.

Oscar Wilde once said, “With age, comes wisdom”, although in this case I feel he is a tad off the mark. If he had said irrationality, unreasonableness, illogicality, senselessness, or even something along the lines of eccentricity, I might have been inclined to agree. However, in the same sentence he also said, “but sometimes age comes alone”. Again I feel, maybe just in this case, he might be running off the beaten track, quite some distance too, come to that.

Had Wilde met my father he might have reconsidered his philosophy, altogether. Saying that, had he accounted for the ‘Benjamin Buttons’ of this world? Maybe he had, and if he did, what might his philosophy be for this case? If you’re born old, maybe “wisdom” comes as a standard accessory, a bit like heated mirrors on an old banger. Therefore in time, instead of wisdom, you acquire something different, an extraordinary gift possibly, like the ability to: collect things such as e.g. anything and everything, even fridges, or, make things, things that no one would ever think of, or didn’t know they needed.

On the other hand, if it was a birth right, I had not seen much of this wisdom that our Oscar speaks of, at least not the intelligent or insightful sort that might be associated with the likes of say, Gandhi or Mandela. In fact, Prince impressively hides his all traits, according to a recent article stating ‘fifteen characteristics of a wise person’. However, even though it is quite clear to those who know Prince, that he has his wits about him, there are wits and there’s wise. Although, it is also too easy to expect wisdom to manifest itself in the form of, say someone like Gandalf the Great (maybe less the sleeves, hat, and beard, and more the demeanour), but I’m sure that wisdom like everything else comes in all shapes and sizes, its just not obvious. Cynicism however, that’s another story. Of this, there is an abundance, just as there is of scepticism, and plain old misery, which all make excellent company apparently.

What most of us find to be a joy, Prince finds to be highly inconvenient. His joy is found at the inconvenience of others, or, trying to prove that everything and everyone is wrong. If black and white was blue, Prince would make it his life long ambition to prove it was red, green, or any other colour, and would not rest until his endeavours were rewarded. If something can’t be done, then it most definitely shall. If there is something not worth knowing, then it must be studied. He once counted every step and every door in the Great Mountain Workingman’s Club, which there are quite a lot of, and he can tell you exactly how many there are to this day, because, as he says, “you never know, when that might come in handy”. If truth be told this rationality has been fruitful in many a bet, its also sparked a row or two, and in my fathers case, that’s another win-win.

“Your father went out to buy another kettle this morning. There was nothing wrong with the last one I bought. We’d only had it a couple of days. Your father had read that it had ‘Speed Boil’. Well, you know what he’s like. It had to be tested, didn’t it. The trouble was we didn’t have another kettle to compare. He was adamant that the speed boil function was a con, so he insisted we take it back and get a different kettle without this function to prove it was all bullshit. So now we have a basic one, just to prove his point. He was wrong, my kettle boiled much faster and he won’t admit it. He reckons that I put less water in my kettle. Bloody Gonk. Now I have to wait longer”. Pearl

Throughout the years, whether angered, saddened or in fits of laughter, I’ve often wondered whether this outlook on life is his downfall, the chink in his armour. Is it a fault or a flaw, or simply a gift? Is it such a bad thing to, once in a while, go against the grain, to push against the boundaries? And then question absolutely everything, believing nothing until you have seen it with your own eyes, and then only believing half of it. Breaking the rules attained some of humanities greatest achievements. And “Can’t”, is recorded to have achieved nothing. Phyllis May Prince, always said that “there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’”, and right she was. If we let this four-letter word stop us every time, we would never achieve anything. It is this ethos, this motto (my gran’s/my fathers) that has made me who I am, and I have all the admiration for it.

However, although it is contradiction to expect impatience or unwariness to coexist alongside wisdom, even wisdom (much like misery) needs a friend sometimes, even if it means being foolish. Wisdom alone leaves very little room for misery, and when misery is a treasured comfort, wisdom becomes a questionable companion.

“Did you know that you can’t buy more than two boxes of tablets at any one time? Well its news to me. I was in Tesco earlier, and no way would they sell me three boxes. Since when then? I said to the boy on the counter, I told him I always buy three or four boxes when I come to Tesco. Every single week. I’ve never had a problem before. What the fuck do they think I’m going to do with three boxes of Paracetamol? If I was going to do myself in, I’d need the whole shelf, with all these tablets I am on, for fuck sakes mun. No way would he budge. Even the manager gave me the same shit, telling me it was more than their jobs worth. OK, Thanks for fuck-all I said, I’ll buy them elsewhere. I tell you, if I wasn’t suicidal going in there, I fucking was coming out.

Then the Bookie tried to rob me 50p, what a day. I told him, you're as bad as fucking Tesco, robbing me of tablets. “What do you want tablets for” he said. Because you bastards are robbing me, it’s giving me a headache”. Prince

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