Saturday, October 29, 2005

Jacob's Garage

Given that all human activity, indeed all existence, as far as anyone has ever been able to demonstrate convincingly, is devoid of purpose or meaning, it follows logically that every action is neither more nor less momentous than any other, and therefore that a tramp vomiting in the gutter in Clapham High Street, to use a picturesque local example, is ultimately just as important in the grand scheme of things as the construction of the pyramids or the Great War or famine relief or the mating habits of the dung beetle.

All rational people understand this to be self-evidently the case, but historically we have had to suspend that knowledge in order for civilized society to function and prosper, resting as it does upon foundations of political duplicity and religious hypocrisy and driven as it is by the vaunting vanity and arrogance of humanity which inevitably will prove to be its downfall.

Also, it is necessary to set aside a large measure of philosophical enlightenment in order to play a popular and often raucous messroom game called Futile Occupations, in which the players try to think of people whose jobs are fundamentally less important to the functioning of modern society than that of the emergency ambulanceman.

Just off the South Circular Road, to the east of the South Side, lies a veritable maze of back streets, many of which have peculiar names of unknown origin. If you happen to be in the vicinity, have a look at No. 5, Arlby Avenue, and you will see a fairly substantial detached house that was built of an attractive reddish-brown stone sometime around the middle of Victoria's reign. To its left is a large, wisteria-bedecked garage constructed of the same materials, blending in so perfectly that the casual observer would unthinkingly take it for part of the original structure, but this is not in fact the case. The garage was actually built in the summer of 1987; I know because I helped to build it for my tailor and good friend, Jacob Schmutter; it remains to this day the pinnacle of my earthly achievement and I do not expect to surpass it. Indeed, I am quite certain that I never shall.

As I go about the day to day business of ambulancemanship, I will occasionally make a detour to pass Jacob's house and I'll sit and gaze at his beautiful garage, rather to the consternation of my crewmate, and I'll think with considerable pride and a lump in my throat, I built that and it'll still be standing long after I'm gone. It is the nearest thing there will ever be to a monument in my honour.

Never have I passed a person in the street and thought with anything other than a sense of bored indifference, I once took that man to hospital.