Friday, 8 April 2011

Sin... 41...

41 is such an UGLY number, don't you think? It kind of sticks in your eyes like a knife in a corpse. Nothing like the glorious curves of the number 8 or the angular artistry of a 44. 41 - hideous, really.

Now 42 is another matter. Possible, or rather probably, because of my love for Douglas Adams' works, I think 42 is a fine example of the numeric aesthetic. Maybe it is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, but it's probably just the number of the house I grew up in. When I moved in there, I could touch the tops of the holly bushes in the front garden. Now, they're more than twice my height. The world turns and drags us right along with it.

41. That was the house across the road. It had a small camera that eye-spied anyone who might knock on the door. The house was a mirror image of the one I lived in - a simple three bedrommed terrace - so I was surprised to discover it was actually a brothel. There were no red lights in the windows or 'Playgirls Massage' signs in the garden, and I never really saw a steady stream of visitors, but when the police raided one day, that was the apparent reason. It was a shame, really. They were nice neighbours. And the underwear on the washing line in the back garden was quite something to behold for a growing lad.

17 is another number I really don't like. Not as much as 41 - 17 and I are still on speaking terms - but it's not one of my favourites. When you write the numbers down, they don't seem to flow, as if they were thrown together one day on a chain gang and are forever handcuffed to each other. They bicker and fight and strain in different directions but it's all for naught. The 1 and the 7 are eternally tied together.


You get a lot of thinking time in an asylum, you know. A lot of chances to contemplate your navel, whether there's an event horizon in the back of your head ready to suck the whole of existence into another plane of reality, and whether the sausages you had for lunch actually contained anything resembling real meat. When you're done with all that, there's not much left to keep zee leetle grey cells entertained. I'd thought long and hard about how many turns of the spanner it had taken to bolt all those chairs down and spent many an hour wondering about the number of tins of super brilliant white paint it needed to paint our entire world its particular shade of blinding.

So. 41. Not the prettiest petunia in the flower bed.

If you add the numbers together, you get 5. I don't like that either. 5 haunts me. It screams at me in the night and taunts me during the day.

I knew a bus, once, with that number. It had cigarette burns in one of the seats and was used frequently by a man who one day took a gun with him to cash his unemployment benefit cheque.

That was the start of it all.

41. It's an ugly number, don't you think?

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