I'm pleased to report that Stay-At-Home Indie Pop (not one of the Ludlow Indy-Popps, I fear) has launched a thoughtful catalogue of people who irritate him by their very act of being.
His first target is a crass fellow "down the gym" (pron. "gime": Simpson's Dictionary and Menu-Reader).
The simple presence of this character at a gymnasium would have propelled him straight into the 110% buffoon category for me, but would also have raised questions as to what Pop was doing at such a grim institution.
There are few acceptable reasons for being "down" a gym, as opposed to taking exercise in a manly way like playing rugby football, pleasuring bored housewives, smearing your face with spoor and stalking ramblers through a thicket, or a combination of the above. Here are some:
- You work at the gym in a non-motivational, spandex-free role, especially if it involves tempting the lost souls with corned beef sandwiches, ale and Senior Service untipped in the cafeteria;
- You escort your Stepford Child there for some activity that Mrs Boyo put in motion but never gets round to attending, and keep your own callisthenic cavorting to the minimum;
- You reassure depressed 30-something mothers at the weekly Water Tot Splash Slot that there are bald Welshmen who find them attractive, and not necessarily two at a time; and
- You are a property developer assessing the premises with a view to converting it into a massive cake factory.
As Cavafy might have waned elegaic, Anglo-Saxon culture has taken the best of the Greek Tradition and reduced it to owl-haunted rubble.
To the Ancients the gymnasium was a place where, yes, you could run around and lift heavy objects if you felt the need, but it also invited deep thought and discussion with your fellow citizens.
The topics of debate ranged beyond "I've packed my glutes/hey, feel the pecs on my abs!/I've just burnt something to the max", encompassing as they did politics, arete, agape and who would win in a fight - the minotaur, or the eagle that ate Prometheus's liver?
And, to sharpen the point that there's more to life than tossing a plate around, the Greeks made athletes practice their vile arts naked.
This held the men up to female ridicule and unwarranted attention from middle-aged bachelors, and gave young chaps an idea of which young lady to ask to the agora for a refreshing jug of wine and twigs.
And what about the symposium? For the Greeks, sympotein meant "Your round, son, get 'em in!", and that is exactly what everyone did from Hades to the Hellespont.
If you wanted to talk about the Epiriote Question or how many squaddies you can stick up the arse of a wooden pantomine horse, this is where you would do it - over a bowl or three of Cyprus Sherry.
On the other hand, if you wanted a lewd sing-song about the Queen of Sheba or just to ogle some good-time girls' tonguing a primitive oboe, the symposium was also the place for you.
Turning up at a symposium in Brown's Britain with a bucket of wine, a brace of Moroccan boys and a courtesan to hold your toga is not likely to do your professional reputation much good unless you are a gangster rapper or attend the School of Oriental and African Studies.
More likely a fish-eyed "facilitator" in an Asda suit will ask you first whether you've registered for Image and Signal Processing and Analysis, Calcified Tissues, Regen(e)dering Hierarchies or Start Your Own Nationalised Bank, and second whether you'd leave, please. And not a flute-girl in sight.
We ought to show the Grecians some respect by returning these terms and calling our own debased gymnasia and symposia something more honest, such as "sweat planks" and "bore holes".
"You going to rub your damp buttocks on a sweat plank this afternoon, Justin?" "Cheers mate, but I've got to talk about growing deficit awareness down a bore hole. Fancy some drunken gay sex instead?"
The same goes for kebabs, although the Grand Turk may have had a hand in turning the noble souvlaki of Plato's day (pronounced συβλaκή (süblahké) back then, of course) into the cone of pink impacted knackers we see impaled in gibbets up and down the high streets of modern Albion.
We are all Persians now.