I discovered this weekend that I am no longer capable of entertaining myself.
The death of the imagination is something that has been mourned far and wide by people who, as children, had to make do with bricks and string and the occasional beating-half-to-death-for-their-own-good for their entertainment. Children these days, it seems, don’t know that they are born, with their televisions and ipods and Child Services and hologrammatic teddy bears taking the place of old blankets and dead animals to poke at with sticks.
I was once able to spend whole days on my own, wandering about, looking at things, reading other things, watching a third set of things, listening to a fourth set of things and quite often dancing around wildly to a fifth set of things, all of which could be done on my own, and I would be entirely happy to do so. The novelty of being on my own was often enough entertainment in itself for me, because having had a fine number of siblings and friends living close enough to be occasionally frustratingly suffocating, loneliness wasn’t something to be dreaded but to be welcomed as an unusual diversion.
But I’ve discovered that since moving to London I have managed to avoid being alone for far too long, and suddenly on Saturday night I didn’t know what to do with myself.
He Who Only… was off for the night to look at strippers, shave his friends’ heads, throw up on streets and generally be boorish and male, because it was a stag weekend, and that is the rule of the world. He assured me constantly – almost too constantly – that there wouldn’t be strippers or ladies of an unholy nature, but I did not believe him because all men are wicked and they cannot be trusted when allowed out in a pack, no matter how harmless and well educated the pack may be.
I resolved to spend the weekend writing essays, occasionally taking a break to buy some shoes and possible to hoover the carpet in my bedroom if I could find the time.
By Saturday night at 9pm, I had done all of these things. An entire essay had been written in a day. Shoes had not been bought but perused over, which as any girl knows is just as important, and more or less the entire job done. Hoovering had taken place, as had redecoration, two lots of washing, the bed changed, the furniture moved around, a new lamp hammered to the wall, CDs rearranged, towels re-folded, new hangers purchased and clothes re-hung, and if I could have re-tiled the ceiling, I probably would have done.
Saturday night at 9pm, having watched an episode of America’s Next Top Model and found myself thinking that one of the girls looked quite fat, I suddenly realised I was no longer able to entertain myself. I have become too used to one other person’s company, and too reliant on him to provide the entertainment. Well, I mean to say, why would you start to date a comedian if not to be provided with endless entertainment? There can be no other advantage in the frankly insane decision to become emotionally involved with one of those.
It’s the joint blessing and curse of living very close to the person that you want to see all the time – you get to see them all the time. Whenever you start to feel the pangs of separation, you can immediately remedy that by calling round to them and poking them in the ribs until they give in and give you the attention you crave. If you feel the need to start feeling the pangs of separation, you can run off to your own house around the corner and wait for the ten minutes until the pangs start, and then immediately call them and demand that they come around, citing spurious excuses or threatening them with vague danger or imminent physical pain.
And so last night it was I discovered that I am no longer able to spend time on my own. I was, in short, bored in my own company. I am bored of me. And when you find that you are bored of yourself, is that a good place to be? I don’t think that it is.
I immediately remedied this by reading some improving books, with theories on brain damage, modern imaging techniques and electrophysiological studies on language processing. And immediately I felt better because I discovered there are others out there more boring than me, and also I fell asleep almost straight away, which meant that He Who Only.. would be coming back the next day and then I wouldn’t have to be bored any more.