Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It's a cliché. Everyone knows it. But sometimes it really happens. Sometimes you glimpse that moment when it all works, when the last piece of a puzzle fits in, when the cog turns and the bells chime, in spite of everything. One of my best friends, Marcus, is very clever. But his powers of logic fail him. Frequently. In this sense, the clock is stopped.
Well, maybe not stopped - that's a bit harsh.
But the minute hand and the hour hand rarely meet. If the hour hand is his inherent intelligence, then the minute hand is logic, and as such they only cross over and point in the same direction at midnight and noon. So the clock isn't stopped. It moves normally. But unlike a clock, it's not on a schedule. It's erratic, unpredictable, sometimes uncommon and sometimes occurs in quick succession. When it does happen, when both the minute hand and hour hand point towards twelve, it's beautiful. It's like Hannibal from the A-Team loving it when a plan comes together. Well it happened tonight.
Marcus works for a luxury travel firm. And no, he can't give you any freebies. He enjoys his work but it causes a dilemma. When Marcus was at St Andrews, he founded the Tibet Society, devoted to providing aid to Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal and raising awareness of the the cultural repression happening in Tibet. He started Tibet Aid, a live-aid-type-thing, to raise money for the Tibetan Relief Fund. He wore t-shirts with the Tibetan flag. Sometimes he'd claim to be Buddhist. He was into Tibet, in a big way. And this company he works for, well, it sells holidays. Holidays in China. This doesn't sit well with him. He fears karma, but he loves his job. Then there's this luxury trainline that's just been built, from China to Tibet, that his company wants a major piece of - his karma is in turmoil.
And we know it. We give him terrible grief about selling holidays to China when only 3 years ago he passionately derided their human rights abuses and the cultural obliteration of Tibet. He tells us about the trainline deal and we continue to harangue him, as only mates can do. We make fun of the email he sent out trying to raise money for yaks in Tibet, calling it a small and insignificant placation of karma. Because what can a yak do?
But it was noon and midnight all at the same time, the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line met for one time only and Marcus had a plan. He reads this story - a story about how the trainline is threatened by subsidence, gobal warming and wild life. What wild life? Yaks (and yes, that's really odd, but true). They even contribute to the subsidence.
So Marcus decides to get the office to sponsor a charity. A charity devoted to buying yaks for Tibetan nomads. Nomads that roam the plains and steppes and mountainsides that the trainline crosses. The office doesn't know this. They're travel operators. They know bugger all about yaks that subside trains. They just think they're giving the poor a dumb animal. So they buy a yak for £85. It was a pretty successful venture - the office were all chuffed with their humanitarian effort and Marcus appeased karma, knowing that the yak he bought may well contribute to undermining the trainline. He wants them to buy more. They probably will.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Then there was the rat-tail. It was so dreadful, seated at the table next to us, that I had to surreptitiously take a photo. I've never done anything like that before. I felt sort of awful about it, but the rat-tail was more awful - enough to justify my own moral compromise. It was my version of buying a yak for nomads. By taking a picture and publishing it, I may prevent someone else from make so drastic a mistake. It was my duty. I don't have any hair myself, and to see someone treating what they have so terribly - well, it was upsetting. Upsetting and frightening. Why frightening? Well, that's a woman.
So fueled on butch rat-tails and yak tales, we came back to the new Belfry and drank beer and looked at old photos and everyone missed the last tube home. My second night in the new house and I'm already causing trouble.