Nietzsche wrote something about what he called “the horror of existence.” I always took that to mean that we humans and club mems, unlike other creatures, have full knowledge of our coming demise.
I recall my late father sitting me down when I was six to tell me that I would snuff it one day, but I should not be terrified by the prospect because we were all for the high jump.
I hid under my bed all day, appalled by my foretold death, and it did not help in the least that it happens to everyone. Time does heal all, and one becomes used to the diminishing sands of life. I suppose it is less fearsome because we do approach the end in quite a crowd.
I am sure it helps that we can look at other club mems and remark that so-and-so does not look well, or there may be a spare chair soon. My philosophy is that I don’t want to be the first one of my group to wave goodbye, but I am not sure I want to be the last either. It would be nice to think that one or two friends might have a sniffle over my casket rather than just my family trying to turn out my pockets.
I understand that the Bible says we come into this life with nothing and surely we will leave the same way, but I would hope for a little dignity before making my way with the boatman across the river Styx.
Speaking of those lining up for the final trip, I cannot help but notice an old crone down by the far end of the senior reading room, Clare Wrightof-Way. To look at her now, one would never imagine that she was the beauty of beauties of her day.
I vividly recall being introduced to her at the Junior Cotillion Ball, when I was but 17 and Clare a sophisticated girl of 21. Here was a debutante who almost hurt to look at, for she was a paragon, peerless. She had luxurious red hair spilling over the bluest of eyes with a fine spray of freckles lightly distributed across her meringue-coloured skin before disappearing into the decollete.
The effect was to come face to face with a masterpiece. Life would be dull and dark from that moment, or at least it seemed so from a teenager’s vantage point.
Today the skin hangs from her jowls like torn awnings fluttering in the breeze, her milky skin seared in the tropics for more than five decades.
She has age spots the size of coins beneath her eyes, which are prawn-like, yet shrewd. Widowed after four husbands and a slew of children, she appears bitterness itself, alone in a busy club. I rather think she looks forward to her demise.
The club also contains George Tremble, who is a crushing bore. The trouble with a crushing bore is that he never ceases to be one. He does not suddenly throw off the mantle of uninquisitiveness and become a jolly fellow, perhaps one who might take an interest in others, never. They stay joyless to the end.
Sadly, we have more than a few at the club, dreadful little men concerned only with their own views. They represent, in fact, the antithesis of what a club is meant to be, an arena for the exchange of ideas between like mannered chaps. They go on and on, never heeding a blatant hint or two about their frightful lives or dreadful families.
One of the few positive things in a crushing bore’s favour is that we all look forward to falling from our perches because we are so unutterably weary. In other words, don’t worry about death until one has nothing more to do, and then flee for the exits.
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