Moral of the Story

For a change, let’s start with the moral of the story. Flip it all over, turn it all around. Why not? I think the moral of this story is that sometimes it’s a good thing to do something you don’t want to do.

Once upon a time, I did something I didn’t want to do, and it worked out okay. Strike that, it worked out great.

The year was 1986 and I didn’t want to go. No way, nuh huh, ‘didn’t fancy it, ‘wasn’t doing it, leave me alone.

It was Saturday and I had my weekend all planned out. I had been living in London for two years by then and I was well into my life there. Work hard all week, take it easier on the weekends whenever possible. I was never what you would call a ‘Party Animal’. (Somebody called me that at a party once and I threw them down the stairs, but that’s a tale for another day.) I liked a visit to the movies, maybe a bite to eat out somewhere. A pub visit, okay. Just, please, no parties.

There was a party that evening. Everybody was meeting in a pub down Borough High Street. ‘The George’, you might even know it. After that, there was going to be a party in a nurse’s flat right beside Guy’s Hospital.

I just wasn’t into it. I had plans; you see. I had got a free ticket from ‘Time Out’ for a free preview screening of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in Leicester Square at 10.00am on Sunday morning. That was the plan. A quiet night in, on Saturday, then up early for a nice traffic-free drive into central London. Park down at Carlton House Terrace (there always seemed to be a parking space for me down there) then a leisurely stroll over to Leicester Square for the movie. A nice morning, requiring a fairly nice early night.

So, no party for me, no way. 'Not a party animal anyway, me.


I had the car, and I didn’t really drink. There were people in my household who really wanted to go to this party. And the going wasn’t even the problem. The ‘getting home’, however, therein lay the rub. So, I was cajoled and pleaded-with, begged, bribed, and bastardised (maybe not that last one).

“Okay, Okay. I’ll go.”

I reluctantly revised my plan. I could go, suffer the party until around two, round up the tipsy lads and hit back across the city to Ealing. A couple of hours sleep, and I could still make the free movie in town.


The George was packed. There was no comfort for me in it. I don’t like being in crowds like that. I don’t function too well. It was your typical ‘crowded room’. And, across that crowded room… there was a girl. She looked really cool. Who was she?

I don’t think we ever got talking in the pub. It was too crowded. But I was suddenly more motivated to go to the party afterward. I have a memory of walking through Guy’s A&E with a plastic bag full of cans which belonged to someone I’d never met. It was a long time ago; I don’t really know.

We got talking at the party, this girl and me. I gave her a lift home. I had a casette of 'One Trick Pony' by Paul Simon on the car stereo, and she knew all the words. The lads were in the back. She was staying in Hounslow, so I dropped her home. She was new in London and I asked if I could show her around a little some evening. She said, “How could I refuse such a kind offer?”

Thirty-five years later and she’s over there in the kitchen now, reading the Saturday paper which is spread out on the table. I’ll have to get off this computer soon as she wants to do some work on her essay. I never did get to that free preview screening of Little Shop of Horrors. Never mind, I saw it when it finally came out. She’s lovely.

I'd better wrap this up.

Perhaps that 'moral of the story' I gave you at the start wasn’t really the right one. Sometimes you have to follow the story all the way through to the end know what the real moral is. Maybe it isn’t as simple as just sometimes doing something you don’t want to do, although that still applies. I think, in this case, the moral of the story might be that we should never lose sight of the miracles that stay in our lives. The amazing things that are right there in front of us, all of the time. The things we are singularly gifted with and, without which, we would be simply adrift. I think that’s the real moral of this story.

It’s essay time, apparently.

I've got to go.


Fles said...

It is weird how so many great things in life are the result of happy accidents - so many events in my own life that initially seemed disappointing or even calamitous have turned out well.

Telling your story that way around meant that I couldn't see where it was going until just before it got there, which made it heart-warming. Thanks.

Marc Paterson said...

I wasn't much of a barfly nor a party er... fly either but when I lived up in Newcastle (I know, I know, party capital of England) my cousin Peter, up from Norfolk, wanted a night out and I couldn't deny the fella so out we went. I met my wife that night so thank heavens for Peter.

Kish said...

How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns

Jim Murdoch said...

One Trick Pony has always been my favourite Paul Simon album. I've not listened to it in years but at the time (whatever time that was) I played it endlessly. The film was okay but basically a glorifed music video. Why? Why that girl? Oftentimes it's who's there at the time. It's the old Sliding Doors thing, there but for the supposed grace of God, time and unforseen circumstances and fortunate happenstance go I. I wonder a lot about choice. (That'll be a poem by tonight.) I think mostly it's a illusion. Mostly we can't help ourselves.

[Several days pass (and several poems arrive although none, oddly enough, about choice)]

I've never seen Little Shop of Horrors for the same reason I've never seen Marathon Man. My best friend's wife was a dental technician. And, to the best of my knowledge, are still married some forty-mumble years later. That I did not see coming. I used to be more of a romantic but somewhere along the line I lost touch with that side of me. I can still be sweet and thoughtful and that seems to be enough.

As far as sharing a computer goes Carrie and I managed it for a week after she first arrived and there have never been less than two working computers in this house since.

Ken Armstrong said...

Hi Jim, If you're writing all these poems, would you not consider blowing the dust of your excellent blog and sharing them? Just a thought. k

Jim Murdoch said...

What I plan to do is start submitting again, Ken. It's been many years since I did and I have quite the back catalogue now. I'm not up to restarting the blog. It was getting to be a hard slog at the end and, as you well know, I even struggle to get comments on your blog written in a timely fashion. I did a count of how many poems I've finished this year by the way and it's over fifty and not a stinker in the lot. I'm delighted and the end does not seem to be in sight. I must have at least another thirty in draft. I genuinely don't know what's going on but long may it continue. Of course the problem with submitting is knowing who to submit to. I know the big names but the rest are just names in a list and so you have to research them and pick the poems you think they'll like and suddenly two hours has vanished and two hours is a LOT of time to me right now, two clear-headed hours I mean; I've plenty of time when I'm fit for nothing.