I briefly took time out from winning hearts and minds in Cairo’s music community this week to quit my job on Wednesday – a decision which should have been taken two months ago I realised, as I tap-danced my way out of the office into the arms of the gardener. And semi-unemployment.
Tuesday was a public holiday because of May day and Forsooth and I profited by paying exorbitant amounts of money so I could sit by a hotel’s pool and create a glare visible from outer space with my whiteness. While eating a 50 LE nouvelle cuisine-sized portion of fish and chips in such a way so as to ensure that not even its aroma escaped consumption (but drawing the line at licking the plate) I read Orwell’s Coming Up for Air, and came across the passage below, in which the protagonist reminisces about his abandoned childhood love of fishing. It resonated with me hugely. And Seneferu, who requested a review of the book: it is wicked.
Here I’ll make a confession, or rather two. The first is that when I look back through my life I can’t honestly say that anything I’ve ever done has given me quite such a kick as fishing. Everything else has been a bit of a flop in comparison, even women. I don’t set up to be one of those men that don’t care about women. I’ve spent plenty of time chasing them, and I would even now if I had the chance. Still, if you gave me the choice of having any woman you care to name, but I mean any woman, or catching a ten-pound carp, the carp would win every time. And the other confession is that after sixteen I never fished again.
Why? Because that’s how things happen. Because in this life we lead – I don’t mean human life in general, I mean life in this particular age and this particular country – we don’t do the things we want to do. It isn’t because we’re always working. Even a farm-hand or a Jew tailor isn’t always working. It’s because there’s some devil in us that drives us to and fro on everlasting idiocies. There’s time for everything except the things worth doing. Think of something you really care about. Then add hour to hour and calculate the fraction of your life that you’ve actually spent in doing it. And then calculate the time you’ve spent on things like shaving, riding to and fro on buses, waiting in railway junctions, swapping dirty stories, and reading the newspapers.