Somewhere in Neal Stephenson‘s sprawling Baroque Cycle, two men are urinating against a wall — and remark on the simple joy of such an action. Both had undergone lithotomy, an operation to remove painful calculi, in their case, bladder stones. One of the men was a fictionalised version of the diarist Samuel Pepys, who had had a bladder stone the size of a tennis ball removed in 1658. In those days, the procedure was was done without anaesthetic. Despite the trauma of the operation, involving an incision into the sensitive perineum between genitalia and anus, relief from the pain of bladder stones was often thought worth the very real risk of complications such as sepsis, even death. As was, one presumes, the ability to indulge in a simple bodily process most people would take for granted. In addition, and notwithstanding inasmuch as which:
‘Poo-phoria’ is probably a function of the vagus nerve, which runs from the base of the brain to the deep hinterland of the gut, a wandering course that might reveal much about the evolution of both brain and gut, a subject that is too deep and wonderful to discuss here.
But I digress.
My point is the often
overcooked overlooked joy of small and unregarded things — things that we very often take for granted. The recent and ongoing pandemic has, for me, sharpened this feeling. Deprived of stimuli offered by such things as company, travel, going to the cinema or dining at a restaurant, one is thrown back on simpler pleasures, which are sharpened as a result. I now regard (for example) clean laundry with more than the usual appreciation. With fewer sweet things or takeaways in my diet, the joy of a sugar, fat or salt hit can be exquisite.
Here’s an example. Mrs Gee is diabetic, and often has a packet of jelly babies secreted about her person in case of a sudden glucose plunge.
Well, the other day, I came across an escaped jelly baby, and, reader, I ate it. The tastes and textures were wide-screen, symphonic, playing melodies of sweetness on my taste buds I hadn’t experienced for ages, possibly never.
Here’s another. After traveling into Norwich so Mrs Gee could get a COVID test, we found ourselves traveling homewards at about lunchtime. Mrs Gee’s diabetes means that she can’t skip or postpone mealtimes, so we paused on our homeward journey to Worship at the Golden Arches. Now, usually, Golden Arches fries have the taste and texture of old breakfast-cereal packets. Not on this occasion. Piping hot, perfectly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, delightfully seasoned, they were fries from Heaven, ordained by a Higher Power as the Archetype of All Fries.
But the greatest joy chez Gee was at Christmas, when the our gift was having both Offspring — Gee Minor and Gee Minima — at home with us, simultaneously, both together and at the same time. The episode was brief but intense. Gee Minor is a fourth-year medical student, so soon had to return to the wards and learn how to make sick people better. But what with university terms for most subjects requiring students to work remotely, Gee Minima (final-year history undergraduate) is still at home. Which is great, as we get to watch The Mandalorian together. It Is The Way.
I Have Spoken.