Subscribe by RSS

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Race to the bottom

You've probably never met Harris, but take it from me he is maybe the most annoying person in the world.

"That's the dumbest thing I ever heard," he tells me, as we share a bottle of Isle of Jura in his mum's conservatory, and he tries to catch up on the news he missed while sunning himself on sandy beaches

"It's so stupid it can't possibly be true," he adds.

"Like we live in a world where facts can't be stupid," I tell him. "Listen, pal. When you were away in Thailand, riding around on elephants, UKIP won the biggest share of the vote in the European elections. They'll soon have a shitload of MPs and will form the next Westminster government with the Tories. Just believe me, why don't you?" 

"Because it's rubbish," he says and I wonder how certainty can sprout so easily from ignorance, like a rose bush rooted in stone. 

It's a character trait that makes Harris a hard guy to handle. His mum loves him but that proves nothing. My mum loved me. His ex-wife called him "a pedantic, narrow-minded bigot". But ex-wives are no better witnesses for the prosecution than mums for the defence. 

If I told you what my ex-wife - the Creature from the Black Lagoon - calls me, your ears would catch fire. 

Harris is not a bigot. But he is, according to one of his many sisters, an "arrogant pain in the arse" and maybe that's what his problem is. 

"You know what your problem is?" I say.

"I'm always right," he says.

"You have too many sisters," I tell him. "Growing up dominated by all those women has distorted your personality. You've over-compensated and become dogmatic and way too assertive. If you could keep just one sister, which would it be?"

"That's the stupidest question I ever heard," he says. "Like I'm going to pick one from three and risk the wrath of the rest."

"You're a fictional character and so are they," I say. "They can't possibly hurt you."

"They might be fictional but they're bloody dangerous," he says. "You've met them."

We share a manly glance and sip our whisky companionably. Then something he said starts to rankle. "That's twice you've called me stupid," I say. "It's your turn. Tell me what happened to your legs."

I look down at them and wince. The right leg looks fine but the left, disturbingly revealed by his Big White Hunter shorts, is twice the size it should be, with a large black patch that looks like Australia.

"God that's horrible," I tell him.

"It's not so bad," he says. "I got a deep vein thrombosis in this one, before I flew out. Then a swarm of insects attacked me just before I flew back, and the infection I got gave me this," he says, tapping the swollen limb, which makes a noise like a small rack tom. 

"Lemme get this right," I say leaning forward and placing my glass carefully on the coffee table. "You flew half across the world with a deep vein thrombosis, then all the way back with a leg that looks like it floated off a fortnight-old corpse fished from the Clyde?"

"Not exactly," he says. "It was so heavy they wouldn't let it in the cabin with me. I had to put it in the hold with the rest of the luggage."

I shake my head and reach for my glass. "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life," I tell him.

"Then I win," he says, grinning widely.

"You win a who's-the-stupidest competition with me," I say. "No intelligent person would want to do that."

"So I win twice," he says and his smug grin gets even wider. 

"You lose," I tell him. "You don't have a leg to stand on."

But it's feeble and I know it.  Like I said, maybe the most annoying person in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment