From Jester To King XCI
By Simon Barget
You might not believe in harbingers or guides but I was taken back to my younger self yesterday. I was taken to a scene I didn’t recognise, a tea shop in a basement with these great big windows coming down all the way to the floor so the light could flood in, with a ledge to which all these windows converged at the front of the space, where you could perch if you wanted, sort of hang back and watch everyone doing their thing in the tea room. I sat back on this perch as the man I am now and I looked at myself. I saw a person I didn’t recognise, a person with almost no connection to the one I am now, a child, a sweet innocent teenager looking for love, taking his cues from the other teenagers present. This young version of me was hesitant and unsure, all the other people he knew in this tea room were busy coming and going, ordering and eating, saying their goodbyes, were in the midst of doing something. Whereas the young me was just waiting. And there were lots of people in the tea room who he knew or he wanted to know, girls he’d kept his eye on for years who just happened to be there and this young man was just looking and waiting, waiting for someone to tell him what to do, and when it came to the women, to the girls that he fancied, you could see it all over his face, and I could actually feel -- because I was inhabiting his body -- I could feel how lost and unsure he was whether the girls liked him, but I could also see as the man I am now, that some of the girls did like him and were just waiting ever so patiently for him to make his approaches. Which he never did. It was so obvious to me that he was liked and they had taken an interest. And I could hear his thoughts, thoughts that he was so ugly, that he wasn’t right, that they just wouldn’t be interested, that he was marked, grotesque, unlovable, but all I saw was a very sweet and innocent boy with a sweet little face, a far cry from what the voice in his head was saying. But he hadn’t given up, thankfully. Behind the deleterious talk, there was some resilience. And fortunately for him one of the women approached him and told him where they’d be going next, so I understood that the tea room was only the start of it, there was much more to come. It was strange though that the girls weren’t all his age with little pony tails and fresh faces, the strange thing was that some already had babies, and the one who’d come up to him had one in her pram, and you could feel how happy she was to have her little nuclear family, and there were other women with young children, and this preponderance of children made the atmosphere in the tea room very pleasant and familial and hearty. It felt like a community. And I could feel that my young self also enjoyed that, he felt comforted and good amongst these families that he didn’t necessarily know all that well, and he considered it a privilege for him to be there.
Well, so the girl came up to him and she said to him come on we’re going here, naming the place they were all going to next. And to make sure my old self didn’t forget, to make sure I could go there too if wanted too later, I actually butted in in the middle of everything, asked for some paper and wrote down the places. I mean what was the point of coming all this way and then losing the important information. And I still have the note to prove it and the places they were supposed to be going to were: Paradise by Way of Westminster and Zip Bar. Now I can just look at the paper. When they told my young self where they were going, I could feel his joy and relief, but I thought, well quite right he should be invited because he was a desirable individual and the girls wanted him there, so it made absolute sense, and then I think he’d had ideas of kissing one of the girls there and then but I suppose the point is that you can’t snog in a tea room, would I have had the guts to do it as the man I am now? I don’t know, especially as everyone would have been able to see, and perhaps there was more than one girl that needed to be kissed, and then there were the difficulties of them having babies and partners, and how would all of that be taken care of?