Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Will to Power Nap

For the last three days workmen have been excavating the flat adjoining mine, using what sounds to me like a tunnel boring machine. Short burst of cacophonous grinding are followed by the noise of plasterwork crashing to the floor; hammers beat without rhythm on groaning walls and drills growl a feral call-and-response. Occasionally, all grows peaceful, but then a muffled bang will send the settled air flying up like plaster dust. A man will moan in pain and another man will laugh.

What are they doing over there? Should I be concerned? The “coalface” seems to be the very wall against which my head rests as I lie in bed; I keep imagining that a sledgehammer is about to smash a hole in the brickwork, or that a drill bit will burst through, spearing my skull and liquefying my brain matter with its frantic revolutions. All very vexing.

At the same time, the disruption seems like a fine excuse to stay in bed: at moments the noise level becomes almost unbearable, and my refusal to rise takes on a heroic aspect. Who else could withstand six hours of such torture, climbing out of bed only once the workmen have surrendered for the day at five o’clock? A lesser man would get up extra early to avoid this discomfort, but I am made of sterner stuff. And if I can take a lie-in in what amounts to a construction site, think what else I can achieve!

The final lines of Kipling’s poem “If” come to mind: “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it/And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!” At last, I think I know what that means. Thank you, you fucking noisy asshole bastards.

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