A short story:
When I wake up in the mornings, and sometimes in the afternoons, I thank my lucky stars I’m free. In fact, sometimes the stars are the first things I see if it’s still dark and the sky is clear. A starry night I think it’s called. But unfortunately this also makes it cold, sometimes freezing, because the clouds have let out all the heat and it seems the earth is in the grip of some sort of cooling. Global cooling, maybe? No, that doesn’t sound right.
Anyway, the stars: they look pretty and they seem free, perhaps more free than anything in the world. Or is that the universe? Do you know it’s really quite exhausting thinking about these things. But it’s important. The point I’m trying to make is that I feel free when I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure I can say that about most other people.
The reason I feel this way is simple: I don’t have their encumbrances. They have houses and mortgages and rent arrears and bailiffs. I have my coat and my bag and my wits. I bet they wish they had even half my wits. Then they’d be happy.
And it suits my temperament to live like this. How often do they wake up to the twinkling of a starry night or the beauty of a clear blue morning? Never, that’s how often – unless they’re campers or soldiers or something like that. But I don’t think we have many of them now.
Some people call freedom liberty, which used to be quite sought after once. Probably before you were born unless you’re quite old and survived the war. That was a time people thought freedom and liberty were quite important – after survival, of course. But it was quite a big deal back then, freedom, and Winston Churchill talked about it a lot. He said we would fight for it in the air and at sea and on the beaches.
Right now I’m on a beach. The tide is out and the River Thames is showing its banks and its little petticoats of shingle and mud and sand. Sometimes I walk here alone, except for the occasional mudlark seeking his fortune, and it feels like time standing still, or stuck in the mud, and that I could be back there somewhere in the past.
Anyway, it’s time for some breakfast, so I’m off.