Somewhere was having a disaster, someone was cheating politically, and it was likely that the world was going to be plunged into war. At least fifteen people had been killed or injured in a motorway accident, and the Prime Minister was launch an investigation into a misappropriation of funds by one of her cabinet ministers who had, conveniently, stepped down.
Elsewhere, community projects were popping up, inspiring kids to cook and learn to play musical instruments (much to their parents’ dismay, David thought), and dog ownership was on the rise. In the sports world, this football team had beaten that football team two goals to one and a UK Paralympian had broken a world record, which was good for national morale.
Then the weather man said that it was going to be fine and dry for the next two days, but a cold front pushing across from Labrador might bring with it some unpleasant showers. After the weatherman’s closing remarks about wrapping up and gardening, David zapped the television off. He sat in the dark for a few minutes, wondering what to do.
He needed to finish the laundry, or he would have no shirts for the next few days. He ought to see what the boys were doing and cajole them to stop whatever ghastly video-game they were playing to work on their assignments from school. He could call his wife and ask when she would be home, or if she would be staying late at the office/George’s house.
All of these things seemed rather unpleasant to David, and far more trouble than they were worth. He did not even really need to wear a suit to work – no one else did. They all turned up in jeans and t-shirts with amusing slogans on them, but then again, they all were quite a few years younger than David. Apart from Millicent, of course. Doddery old Millicent was turning eighty-two next
autumn, and was the office’s mascot although she never knew. She had watery blue eyes that couldn’t really see all that well, a croaky voice that she used only to ask if anyone would like a home-made scone, and great ears like bats from which hung three golden hoops to a lobe. It had long been suspected that Millicent was once a key player in the punk and anti-nuclear scenes, but in her knitted yellow cardigans
and brown sandals, she never let on.
David looked at his watch – it was five minutes past eight. What he really, really should not do was start drinking on his own. He would open a bottle of wine (£5, from Sainsburys), pour himself a glass, and sit there and drink it in the dark. Then he would unthinkingly pour himself another, and then the bottle would be just under half-filled and so he may as well finish the rest of it to stop it going to vinegar.
After that, David would be tipsy enough to snatch his coat of the rail and stumble down to the local watering-hole and tell the bartender to set them up so he could “knock ‘em down.” Eventually he would be thrown out because it was way past everyone’s bed time and hopefully make his way home. Then, he would be rightfully yelled at by his wife until his head hurt, fall asleep on the sofa, and then wake up with a
hangover. David had discovered a long time ago that he should not start drinking on his lonesome. That being said, there was not actually anyone around to remind himself of this, so he strolled over to the fridge.