I went into the pub to view the changes wrought within it since I was last in there a couple of years ago. The carpet had been removed and the seating re-arranged. Serena Williams was on her way to winning Wimbledon on the giant screen, which pleasure I had to forego temporarily while men with florid cheeks and slightly glazed eyes pushed past me carrying pints of beer to recipients waiting outdoors. I regarded some of the recipients. They mostly looked overfed, and were engaged in pushing beef burgers into mouths that looked a little too small for their fleshy faces. I left when I began catching fragments of conversation.
So that’s a brief word picture of the Shire on a summer’s afternoon. I decided that I’m not really cut out to be a Hobbit; I’ve failed at that as I fail at most things. And the thought of failure brought to mind a comic book I was given one Christmas as a kid. It contained a selection of illustrated stories on the general theme of mystery and imagination, and two of the tales remained with me.
One was about an interstellar traveller who wandered the mean and rainswept streets of sundry downtown metropolises, huddled up tight in trench coat and homburg and watching from the shadows as sundry denizens of the third planet went about their seemingly pointless business.
The other told of a jazz trumpeter searching for the lost chord – not the popular song written by Arthur Sullivan, but a real elusive chord that he needed to find in order to give his life meaning. He failed, and the story ended with him screaming his frustration through the strident tones of his trumpet, while bitter tears ran copiously down his over-inflated cheeks.
I decided that much of the real me is wrapped up in those two characters. I explore the human condition and become both confused and disappointed. I continue to search for the lost chord, but doubt I shall ever find it.