Microfibre and tractor beams – a tale from the shrinking settee

Serafina is sitting in the formal chair, I’m lazing on the old leather settee, which fits nicely under the angled overhang unavoidably created when the architect cunningly crafted the upper floor on to our former Lakeland bungalow.

“Why irony?” she says.

“Irony?” – I’m playing hard to get. As my portable shrink, she’s used to such tactics.

“On the top of your personal WordPress web page, it has ‘Irony’ in the middle of it . . .”

I’m going to have to answer; to reach into what was just a whimsy, and deconstruct it for the world of reason.

“I like it because it has the word ‘iron’ in it. Iron is a good image, something forged with intelligence and for a durable purpose. I like the way that great iron structures rust with age, showing what they are, rather than the accretions that cover them, like concrete.” I’m impressed with this – it’s positively poetic.

“No you don’t, you just made that up.” she says, correctly; used to my verbal escapology.

Metaphorically pinned to the old leather settee, I am forced to agree. “Okay, yes I did; but I’ve had time to think now, so the answer to ‘why irony?’ is because I have always loved the notion that ‘fate’–the gods as they used to be, reach into our lives, every now and then, and fling us about a bit . . .”

Serafina considers this. “And it’s good to be ‘flung about a bit?'”

“Yes, it’s essential; it’s what really good friends would do with you if they could read your secret heart and your real needs instead of dealing with the papier maché front we all construct.”

“And these have to be life-changing events?” she asks.

“No – in fact, most of them are quite tiny – but can have a dramatic effect in the moment, in the now; if that now has been primed, so to speak.”  I consider what I’ve just said. It’s not the best-phrased construct, but it conveys the gist of the thing.

“An example being?”

She’s quite merciless, of course – this amalgam of some of the finest and most fearsome characteristics of womankind; but useful to have around.

“An example being this morning. I took the dog out for its constitutional; at the expense of my own, came back and rushed to the ensuite bathroom with a large mug of steaming tea in my hand, to be whipped around in a near airborne arc, spilling most of it, as though grabbed by a sci-fi tractor beam wielded by a mischievous and obscure small god in another galaxy . . .”

“And what really happened?” she asks, waiting, patiently for the truth.

“Okay,” I say, remembering the event in vivid details with some embarrassment. “I had thrown on one of my walking shirts, made by a company called Paramo, who utilise the strongest microfibre they can source. As I strode, at speed, into the ensuite bathroom,one of the short sleeves had hooked itself in the right door handle of the saloon-style doors. These open inwards, so I’d travelled another foot or so before disaster struck and the ancient god of distant bathrooms used my forward momentum to entertain itself with my subsequently scalded pirouette; the amazingly strong shirt remaining totally unshredded, having dumped me and most of the tea on the floor . . . but personally I prefer the tractor beam theory!”

“I see.” says Serafina. “And the moral of the tale?”

“The moral of the tale is that sometimes your best suit of armour is not the smartest place to be . . . ”

“Hmm” says Serafina, clearly underwhelmed.