A long time ago, when I started freelancing, I made a rule. If a day was going very badly, with everything I touched turning to dross, I would give it up and go home. Why go on beating your head against a brick wall?
It’s an excellent system. Cut your losses, go home and start doing nothing, which hardly ever goes wrong.
Last Monday started off as a disaster. Weeks earlier, I had ordered for my brother a 60th birthday present from London Transport, which had never arrived. I had made a fuss and been promised expedited delivery. It still hadn’t arrived. My brother was beginning to think I’d forgotten his birthday.
I’m English, and both my cricket and football (soccer) teams had been humiliated in the previous week. The day before, my football team, Spurs, had proved that wasting $86 million ($130 million) is easy, having been crushed mercilessly by Manchester City, who know how not to waste £8.6 billion.
The newspaper headline on the Monday morning — and I realise we’re talking a different context here — didn’t help. President Obama, whose signal achievement in office has been that he has not managed a single achievement, had signed the planet’s death warrant by giving in to Iran.
Thus it was in a slightly sour mood that I opened the door to the postman, who brought me a replacement copy of the Lloyd’s of London movie I’ve been trying to buy for months. I had bought one earlier, from Amazon, but it was in Spanish. No habla espaňol. No even like tapas. Plus, Spain is on the brink of declaring war on Britain, over Gibraltar. I had sent the DVD back for a refund and had my Amazon review removed because it was negative. I have never received the promised refund.
Still, here was the English movie, finally. I tore the package open and — guess what? — it was Spanish. I saw red.
Then things began looking up. My brother called to thank me for his gift, which had finally arrived. Emboldened, I took a second look at Lloyds de Londres and discovered that this version could be played in English. The postman had also brought me a new bus pass, which my local Cahncil said I wasn’t old enough to have, until I asked about it and was told that I could have one.
The England cricket team will be thrashed repeatedly by the Aussies, who are boorish bullies and think cricket is a sport. The England football team will lose ignominiously at the next World Cup, and every other World Cup. Spurs will continue to disappoint their supporters, or at least those not in jail for proudly stating their religious affiliation. Those let-downs I can live with: what do you think I’ve been experiencing for the past 40-plus years?
But … here’s the moral. Be grateful for small mercies. You won’t be receiving any big ones any time soon, unless you’re a German-Australian Manchester City supporter, and I expect there aren’t too many of those.