A long time ago, a good friend of mine, a man who has long since signed his life over to humility, sandals and celibacy (ticking some of those boxes myself at the moment, but I’ll let you guess which ones), spent the year expounding the principle of the figure of eight. The theory was that unlike as commonly thought and quoted, life does not move in perfect circles. Things will repeat, but its just that they’ll be slightly twisted as you come back round again. Plus of course, when you hit the point where the lines cross – the point of intersection on the figure of eight – you recognise bits of what you already know. Damn I’ve explained this badly, but it’s late and I’ve been staring at the magic rectangle for too long. Arial font burned into the retina…. but I digress again.
The theory of the figure of eight caught on like wild fire amongst our small group of failed seekers and it was not uncommon for one of us to nod or wink mischeviously at another when we felt deja-vu, the TV echoed a conversation we had earlier in the day, or a girl let us down in the same way as last time, to proclaim: “The figure of eight man. The figure of eight.”
I was reminded of this feeling, that sense of synchronicity, this morning on rising to face the street of my childhood. The town that had nurtured me as a youngster, inflamed me as a teenager and offered temporary respite from chemical indulgence in my young adulthood. Here I was again, but in a different house, composed entirely of pastel shades and expensive furniture that I was already worrying about breaking.
The combined forces of economic necessity, disorganisation and disgust with the filth of my old flat had pushed me back round the figure of eight again, and now myself and the Rompost stood back at the nexus, in his dad’s recently vacated suburban mansion, bouncing off the walls and trying to work out which way to go next.
The walk to work brought a host of memories and the sense that we were back in a different social sphere. Suited individuals in well-turned out pinstripe, clutching briefcases on their way to rape the world instead of eastern european malcontents injecting special brew directly into their veins. Well groomed Jewish princesses, pacing in high heeled boots and push up bras, instead of ladies in hijabs lofting boxes of discount crisps from Makro.
Go past the primary school, looks so small now. Swear at some angry Rotarian (thanks Hunter…) trying to run me over at the zebra crossing and smile at a couple of kids throwing bread in the park.
Get to the town, full of SUVs mounting the kerb, their owners struggling to see over the wheel and up to the tube station. Pick out a couple of fitties to glance surreptitiously at and wait ages for the train – not so many on this part of the line. Offend my fellow commuters by insisting on sitting down. After all, there are three seats and I’m not afraid to sit in the middle. Sit there scribbling away in my notebook, left arm jerking away in my notebook and needling the person on my left with my sporadically firing elbow.
Looks of concern all around. What is this weirdo with the loud music, falling down jeans and furrowed brow doing writing with such feverish intensity? Occasional glances to try to decipher this strange scrawl. What am I writing about? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m writing about the figure of eight. Oh yeah, and lose some weight you fat bitch.