Saturday, September 15, 2012

Arby Quinn and The Centurion

It's a common question, have you ever had a real job Arby? Have you ever felt the sweat well up in your brow, your muscles burn with combustion and felt the terror of imminent exhaustion whilst wielding heavy machinery.

It's a short answer, no, yet that's the one they expect to receive from me, not only an ardent worker but also an eminent story teller!

“Wait just a moment”, I shout at them as they await their answer in smug deference, “listen to be because in my time I've outworked the lot of you together”. At this point they flex their field built muscles and throw back their pints in deflected agitation. I ignore their subtle threats.

Because to know my labour you must only look out on the land that I've shaped, the animals that I've kept at bay. My words and thoughts blanket the entire country, each discarded idea an ethereal snowflake clogging a driveway, mine is a death blizzard of effort. I tell them this, ordering down at them from my moral pedestal, but do they listen.

And their true point comes out then, as one of the men closer to the light of conventional intelligence produces his wallet and holds out a wad of twenties. “Arby.” He says in an inebriated slur, “This is what we're talking about Arby. Have you ever earned any money fairly? Have you ever bought your own pint?” Deafening laughter erupts as I eye my half drained Guinness, a reward for telling a particularly entertaining story about farmer Tony's wife's singing voice.

Delicious though it was, combined with the overcoming laughter I did question myself. I considered giving up, draining my pint and making for home in silence but that was far from the Arby way. I lifted my hand, prompting some silence.  I looked down at the floor and swallowed hard. “I am reminded of an ancient poem, which I will now recite.” I coughed, draining the remainder of my drink to ease the words that would follow.

The plebeian says to the centurion
Money more through work than doles
Seems to affect how you treat us proles

The centurion responds
Mind your tongue, or I cut it out
You lazy helpless layabout

The plebeian, his eyes now wet decries
Though I have nothing, not a thing
My soul is not owned by greed
My mind is not numbed by persistent need
I am true to myself and I have no regrets
And though I have no home, no bed or board.

The centurion interjected,
Counterpoint, my sword!

The Latin poets never being my speciality I left its interpretation to my audience and disappeared home.

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