Some years ago, Chris and I were on holiday in Egypt. Despite being woken at 4a.m. in order to catch our flight from Cairo, we arrived at Luxor airport in good spirits (not the kind of spirits you’re thinking of though, as be warned, all Air Egypt flights are ‘dry’). We soon found our way to the rendezvous point from where, it appeared, representatives of the local taxi industry were hired at random by tour operators to transport unsuspecting tourists to their Nile cruisers for the lowest possible fare.
From the moment I first laid eyes on him, I was suspicious. Our taxi driver had a strange look about him and I was sure I could see the gleam of madness in his eyes. Before I could say anything, I noticed that They had joined us in the taxi, instantly causing me to choke back my words of caution. Just as I had feared, our driver sped off like a man fleeing a horde of trident bearing demons. He squealed around corners on two wheels, ramped pavements and on at least two occasions came within a hairs breadth of killing us all with his insane overtaking manoeuvres; and no-one uttered a single word of protest. Thinking back it seems unbelievable that not one of us, not even one, could garner the courage to demand that he stop and let us out. Their tyranny had silenced us all.
Luckily, Their presence is not always so dramatic, but nevertheless, They are everywhere and only very few are immune to their demands. They live in my neighbourhood (in yours too, probably), They shop in our stores and may even, I fear, have infiltrated my family. I even have a suspicion that dear old Mrs Thompson who lives next door may be one of Them.
They terrorise my life by conspiring to sway my every decision, big or small. I hide the trashy novels I love behind the more literary works on my bookshelf and conceal junk food in decorative containers in fear of Their judgement. They even affect my choice of clothes and the colour I paint the tubs outside my garage doors (I live in a complex, you see, so such things really MATTER to Them). Nothing, it seems, is too small or insignificant to escape Their attention.
Surprisingly, for such a sinister mob, They’ve also saved me from some very embarrassing social blunders. They’re the reason I resisted the urge to ice skate. I really wanted to, even though I know I have the co-ordination of a drunken monkey and would almost certainly have needed to be air ambulanced from the rink. On another occasion, They prevented me from singing at a Karaoke party, something that would have proven really mortifying, as I’ve been told that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
My quest for freedom from Their stranglehold, has led me to seek the advice of a few lucky people who have managed to escape Their clutches. According to them, the only path to liberation is to kick back, relax, and steadfastly ignore Their demands for attention. I have thus decided that it is imperative to my well-being that I do this immediately! … On second thoughts, perhaps I should start tomorrow because I must first mow the lawn. Not because I want to, you understand, not even because it really needs it, but because if I don’t, whatever will They say?
“But who are They?” I hear you ask.
“Everybody” is my reply, “What will Everybody say!”