Small Mercies

26 October 2016 Lorin Clarke

Small Mercies

photograph courtesy of iStock

Here's to the people outside your car who don’t realise they’re walking to the beat of your music.

Here’s to the hot cup of tea.

Here’s to plain old porridge. Not reimagined. Not deconstructed. Not recast as a three-act play interrogating the sociological underpinnings of capitalist society. Just plain, hot, nourishing porridge, served with a hot cup of tea (see above).

Here’s to the organised elderly couple at the local library who meet for a lunch break of pre-packed sandwiches and do the nine-letter word in the paper together with a degree of seriousness often seen on the faces of world leaders engaged in peace talks.

Here’s to the bloke holding the Stop and Slow sign on the side of the road last week when I was driving through construction work, for pausing just a bit too long before swivelling the sign, so breathless was he with laughter at the woman next to him who was telling a hilarious story.

Here’s to the exhausted, sweaty guy in the high-vis vest and Blundstones waiting for the bus who pressed a greeting card against the bus stop perspex for upwards of 15 minutes yesterday evening, carefully composing a message to go with an enormous elongated present wrapped in silver paper, which he carried so carefully it was almost heartbreaking. May the gratitude of the gift recipient sustain him for days to come.

Here’s to satisfying tasks like moving bracken out of a blocked drain with your foot after a downpour to allow the water to flow freely.

Here’s to the button on the vacuum cleaner that you kick with your foot to retract the cord. Anyone who doesn’t admit they feel a bit like a superhero when they do that is a liar or a sad sack.

Here’s to small, mutually agreed upon habits of human thoughtfulness. The dropped baby bootie posted onto a nearby fence post – a flag to returning parents. The faroff dip of the high beams as a fellow driver senses your approach. The gentle car-to-car wave that happens on a quiet country road.

Here’s to the irrefutably spectacular concept of a rainbow, surprising you when everything else is the worst.

Here’s to the deranged idiot who first thought of milking a cow.

Here’s to the sound of keys in a door just when you were starting to worry.

Here’s to that thing where you talk to someone you don’t know through the window of a shop or a car and you can’t hear each other and so, for some reason, you whisper while miming.

Here’s to being greeted by a dog.

Here’s to the sound of a football crowd from a distance, robbed of its “ah come ON ya filthy maggot” or “are ya blind, umpire?” Instead just a low hush.

Here’s to the office email entitled “cake in the fridge”.

Here’s to the astonishing symmetry of nature.

Here’s to live music.

Here’s to the kind of tired your feet get in a foreign city.

Here’s to mud.

Here’s to the elderly woman on the bicycle with her thick socks pulled up to her knees and her purple crocs, leaning on the pedals as she half rises to stand, dragging with her the weight of a child (a grandson? We suspect a grandson but of course we do not know) skiing behind her on rollerblades.
A glorious, dorky assembly line on wheels. He with his luminous kneepads, gripping the back of her bike for dear life as they cross a main road that she could, one suspects, cross in her sleep, backwards, in heels. She with her front basket full of shopping, packed as only old ladies can pack shopping.
Precision packing. One extra microcosm and the whole thing would come tumbling down, probably right off the earth and into another version of time.

And, lastly, here’s to the feeling of having read a really, really good book, in one sitting.

Don’t read the news. Give it a minute. Maybe look out the window for a bit. Have a daydream. Make yourself a cup of tea.

This has been a public service announcement.

by Lorin Clarke

This article was first publised in Ed#523 of The Big Issue.