Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Oliver's many pockets

Oliver de Farr had so many pockets that he sometimes wondered if he might be a mutant marsupial. He had pockets in his trousers and also in shorts that he wore as underpants, from time to time. He had pockets in his jacket and his coat and many, many, many pockets in the photographer’s or fisherman’s waistcoat that he habitually wore under his jacket. He often also had one or two breast pockets in the shirt or t-shirt that he wore next to his skin.  He had no pockets in his skin and was of the male gender; nonetheless  had he, one day, reached into one or other of the pouches that he had about him wouldn’t have been surprised to extract an infant wallaby, an immature opossum or a baby bandicoot.

God knew that the things in Oliver’s pockets were weird enough without that.

Oliver’s plethora of clothing niches meant that he could always have everything somewhere about him, but also that he was never really ever sure where somewhere was. He was vaguely, but not strictly systematic about his carrying capacity. For instance he usually kept his phone in a breast pocket, but, not always the same one; it could be left or right, shirt, jacket or gilet. This meant that when the phone sounded an electronic ringtone, (a high-pitched fartlike sound, similar, Oliver imagined, to that which a marsupial kit might emit), Oliver never found the phone before the caller rang off.

Sometimes, of course, this was a blessing, but, more often than not, it just had the consequence of slightly swelling phone companies’ coffers. And the phone wasn’t the only problem.
Oliver sometimes missed buses and/or trains because he couldn’t find which pocket his travel card was in.

Pens lurked in depths unfound when wanted, and then reappeared, after they had bled and leaked ink, staining the clothing around them and the fingers that retrieved them. Coupons offering money off this or that item of grocery were never redeemed, having become as rare as the genetic material of the Sasquatch until, emerging immediately after their sell-by dates. Cameras vanished until the photo-op had gone, tangerines began to rot in dark cloth surrounded recesses where lint, panel pins and wooden coffee stirrers entangled themselves intricately with snapped elastic bands. Erasers slept in the darkest corners with treasury tags and co-habited with empty plastic ink cartridges and stubs of pencils.

Sharper objects seemed to band together in Colditz like escape committees to widen tiny tears in pocket fabric and then tunnel out into garment linings. Once here, these fugitive implements could torment Oliver even more than when they had simply stayed in pockets, because he could feel their outlines through the cloth and could sense their weight; so he knew that they were there somewhere, but he could not find them when he needed or wanted them. If he was going to sign a cheque or some other such document; or if he needed scissors for a minor manicure job, or a blade to slit open an envelope; Oliver reached into pockets and always grasped the wrong implement.

As he was a baptised Christian he might get up to the pearly gates and grope unsuccessfully around for whatever transcendent sim-card could grant admittance to heaven, so Saint Peter would not be able to scan the tally of his sins and condemn Oliver to “GO DOWN!”.

Or in another scenario beyond the bifurcations of the Book, he would not even achieve reincarnation as a silverfish living under a pile of damp smelly socks in Neasden flat. He would have to hang around in limbo forever and commuters in bus queues might just discern his shadowy ghost futilely riffling through its phantom pockets.

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