Our love-seeker is elsewhere, for a spell. I, Matt, am a temporary host while he’s away, to be vaguely glimpsed from time to time hereabouts, despite my camouflage of tortured prosody, before the duty roster rotates to its third victim.
So, it’s Friday. It’s a day for gratitude to deities or to sexual acts, for fish or calls to prayer. It’s Freya’s festival, or Frigga’s, or Aphrodite’s. It’s Crusoe’s sidekick. What shall we do today? Where shall we go?
I say: let’s take a tour boat to somewhere cheerful.
Picture a small isle midway from the south side of the Thames to its opposite. Just a little rocky outcrop, leftover from a rougher, readier time, before overseas trade took over the estuary. Boats sail by it daily still, despite its lack of reality: a mere chimera, it is, a fever dream of solidity amid the tidal flow of the river. But chimeræ are hazardous, as all steerspeople realise, so they give it a wide berth to this day.
The river is wide about this islet; to keep its folk at bay, perhaps. Atop the rock is a hamlet that’s quite a surprise if you compare it to the more usual grumpy pessimism of its locale.
The people who live there are famously agreeable. Whatever you ask of them, they will seldom refuse. Theirs is a microculture of almost ceaseless positivity. So dedicated are they to the affirmative that their peculiar argot lacks the most basic tools for its opposite. If they shake their heads, it is always to say “yes”.
For them, the world is all about the upside. Every day is a festival, every idle chit-chat a party, each word a gift. Their streets are paved with laughter. The little village hall is double-decked with the classical mask of comedy. They amuse each other with musical shows like Yes, yes, Yvette or Les Heureuses.
It’s so upbeat it could make you vomit.
Oh, yes, it’s a great place to visit. It’ll recharge your batteries, boost your morale, massage your ego. But by the time your little day trip is over, you’ll be desperate to catch the rickety ferry back to the real world; back to the luxury of shades of grey.
Who could take all that sugar from day to day? There’s a place for optimism, of course, but please. You’d have to be crazy to live there…