THE END OF THE WORLD
by Nigel Ford
It’s a day like any other as far as known.
How do you cheer up a grey day?
It’s nice and warm comfy and dozy and through the window a flat pane of grey that is not getting any better unless the boffins start meddling about and a blue sky and cheerful bright little busy clouds could be conjured up via the alarm clock button.
What’s wrong with a flat grey sky?
No doubt it contains variations of grey and thus good cheer.
Should the weary we arise into the grey and dull?
Is this conscience? Compulsion? Ingrained discipline? Or a zest for life?
Since when did a grey morning put off the joy of rising and living?
Crawl out of the sheeted cave, look about, raise the arms, face the many shades of grey, cry out, yes! I’m coming!
Well. At least a brew up. That would be nice. Wouldn’t it? A nice cup of hot tea. A short sweet time of contemplation. Then followed by the awakening. To do or not to do?
To do perhaps.
What does the to do contain?
A contribution to the community in which one exists?
Is anything “to do” useful, ever? Rarely. Probably not. Not at all.
Not “to do” is more environmentally friendly.
Let the “to do” come to you.
If you stick to the not to do, the to do will come. If you try to force the to do, disaster will inevitably fall. How’s that for a farcical homily? Loud, ebullient, cocky, self-sure bollocks.
How about a story about what. Who knows. They come and go. Old and new.
Forgotten yesterday afternoon, it had been used between two beach huts. Beach hut. Deck chair. Beach hut. In that order.
Its sag seat assaulted, swung in by all shapes, sizes and weights of bottoms. Some pretty, others not so.
Empty it looks both forlorn and inviting. Someone, human, created it. Lovingly or boringly by hand. Carelessly by mass-production. Which type is this? What kind? Who can tell. The design is the same.
Take a closer look.
Old wood, burnished, weathered, solid, scarred. Canvas seat striped, thick strong faded.
Any plastic accoutrements? No.
A chip and hack in the wood now and then, here and there. The odd blister of varnish.
It’s a real one then.
O yes! I’m real. I could spin you some stories I can tell you.
My first experience as a young fresh deckchair was the usage as a weapon. I had barely been sat on a dozen times before this sudden surprise befell me…
…the sixties Mods & Rockers battle on Brighton Beach.
Good thing I was young, fresh and strong.
Not that I took sides. I had no choice. Plucked up and wielded. I found myself on one side and then the other. This state of affairs continued for several hours. Quite honestly, I favoured neither one side nor the other. It was all a much of a muchness.
Apparently they were fighting each other over haircuts and means of transport.
Why they were unable to settle down and talk about their differences is an anathema. They craved a good bundle, that’s what it came down to in the end – this conclusion growing upon me until I was forced to agree with myself.
Unfortunately, I inadvertently, by being used as a weapon, was instrumental you might say, in causing one death and several more or less severe injuries.
This was traumatic for one so young. Mind you, it would have been equally traumatic for an old one. I fell into that didn’t I? Folded up on myself you might say. Mirth might be appropriate. Equally a melancholy sadness. But not grief. As far as I’m concerned it served them right. They got what was coming to them. Which was exactly what they wanted.
Young people, I don’t know. What is the world coming to.
Still, I was young once. Fifty years ago. I could go on for another fifty years. Someone might adopt me.
When I get to be over a hundred and officially become an antique. Get sold here and there. Life might become quite interesting, provided I don’t fall ill or suffer from ill health. I’d prefer to be kept in the garden, or on a cruise ship deck. That might be quite interesting. And I do hope people will be considerate enough to take me home now and again. Down to the beach.
‘Hi! Who set you up here?’
‘A rather sweet young lady. She knitted all afternoon. Hummed to herself. Dozed off. The attendant woke her up.
‘Attendant’s a decent sort.’
‘Yes. Takes good care of us.’
‘The last one just chucked me up on the stack any old how.’
‘Tell me about it! I almost got ripped to death!’
‘How old are you?’
‘Getting on for sixty.’
‘Likewise. Not many of us left.’
‘I’ve outlived a good many.’
‘Fast grown wood and plastic pegs. Where’s the point?’
‘Fast money and short-term results. Bugger the environment.’
‘And the art. Plastic canvas indeed!’
‘Nasty hard slippery. Attendant changed mine to proper canvas.’
‘O. Do you think Attendant might do that for me? Those are really nice stripes. I always did like red and green together.’
‘You might get lucky. Seem’s to me Attendant’s following a discreet plan. I noticed the husbanding of quite a nice line in white and sky blue.’
‘Blue and white would be very nice. Sky and clouds. I always like to blend in.’
‘It would suit you. You’d look nice in blue and white.’
‘It could be put down to getting on in years.’
‘These retro regrets.‘
‘Or the end of an era to be admired from a safe distance.’
‘Like chariot races and building empires.’
‘I must admit, most people are better behaved these days. ‘
‘They go so far as to exclaim dismay if they drop food on you.’
‘And frequently was it off. Or attempt to.’
‘Perhaps our situation has improved.’
‘Either that or they worry they might get charged for damages.’
‘So their improvement could be down to selfish material considerations, rather than being concerned about a general benefit to the community.’
‘Materialism glossed over by economics yet again.’
‘O who the hell cares! Life is too good and short to suffer sullage over such concerns.’
‘You’re very wise.’
‘Experience. I hope it’s not the same thing.’
A silence falls. A gentle breeze barely causes the droop of canvas to swing now and again. The slight drum of the calm sea ruffles the pebbles gently.
It is the end of the world.
Bio: Nigel Ford is English. His stories have appeared in the Penniless Press anthology, Howling Brits,(he designed the cover) and a collection entitled One Dog Barking, (He designed the cover)published by Worldscribe Press. He has been featured in a number of literary magazines. Including Encounter, Nexus, Outposts, Iota , The Crazy Oik and New Spokes.
He is now producing and directing one of his plays in Gothenburg, Sweden.