Reflections on an Involuntary Leave of Absence

Winter’s sky – like a soiled dishcloth, hangs slackly over the white-speckled greys and browns of Hainault. I sit at my computer, reading Kafka’s The Castle, which given my resent involvement in bureaucratic quagmires and quandaries, is more than appropriate. I am kept company by the hum of my computer and the regular passing of cars outside my window, occasionally reaching for chocolates. I wish I could read German, but maybe Kafka’s prose is equally or more barren in its original language. OK – That’s not fair, it’s good writing but it offers little sustenance compared to Martin Amis’ Money, which I finished yesterday. Money, I could get my teeth into – so meaty that I chose to conveniently forget about my supposed vegetarianism. I should be doing something more productive, but instead, I’m writing an abortive account of my thoughts.

I can only imagine that the usual Christmas indulgence and the cold weather’s effect on my immune system have led to these irritating mouth ulcers. I’m a little sickly but really can’t complain. I have a roof over my head and a full stomach (full of festive crap). While I would like to have a passport, then I could get a job and finish my degree – I am content with the slow days for the time being, blessed as I am with a sedentary nature. Maybe I’m better off on this long and bookish holiday – I could be out there, struggling – chasing shadows and battling illusions.

I am a little apprehensive. I mean, there’s the ever-present undercurrent of premature death and decay, ruin, disappointment and the scuppering of one’s hopes. But there’s also a lingering question: In the wheel of my life with its vicissitudes, its ups and downs… Am I on the ascendancy or teetering on the brink of a fall? Everything is so pleasantly so so, so idle and relaxing – What’s going to happen when I’m forced to pick myself up and join life’s dynamism again. Perhaps I’ll be rejected as a part with no function – maybe I’ll adapt to the size and shape of an expedient cog. I’m not arrogant enough to presume that I can change the machinery of life – not yet. That’s what education is for, and education requires money, money requires work and work a compromise. I suspect I have a few compromises left in me, I’m young and malleable after all, young at least.

Youth, they say, is wasted on the young – I generally spend my days reading and/or sitting at a computer. My time at university should comprise more of the same, as with the rest of my future life. While I’m young, Should I endeavour to be a moving part, join the thuggery and bitchiness of my social surround? Take up a sport? I don’t think so, I’m not made for Hainault, not as an active resident. More of a passive dweller, taking advantage of the less impure air, the tube station, the anonymity. I’m under less stress than I was in central London, there’s a forest and there’s countryside – it can be quite pleasant.

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