Once or twice upon a time I came upon a book. It was very slim for a novel, but it undoubtedly was one: about the same length as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly but for very different reasons, it was a short Proustian burst of contemplation on the minutiae of modern life. Like noticing when you go up an escalator that the hand belt goes slightly slower than the steps and that it wobbles slightly as you grip it. Like having long and complex thoughts about bendy plastic straws – that sort of thing. And I seized upon this book with a great gladness, for I had thought until that moment that it was Just Me – or rather, Just I, who had these wonted but unwanted thoughts; these obsessions that didn’t ‘get me anywhere’ and which I couldn’t share with any of my fellow-travellers, but which nonetheless struck my obsessive mind as significant.
Anyway, it set me thinking about the minutiae of life and asking, why should we think small things are less important than large ones? So in that vein here are some of the labours of Hercules’ lesser-known sister, Microcles:
- untangle threads and fluff from a velcro fastener
- extract a wad of chewing gum from a child’s hair
- get every speck of soil from a dirty leek
- retrieve every atom of glass from a smashed thermos
- clean the dog poo from the soles of a pair of DM’s
- untangle a drawer full of string.
I can’t think of any more at the moment but that’s enough to be going on with. I recommend the book, too:
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