Kicking off with a conversation about marijuana, I expected Charli’s post to ignite a galaxy of ideas. Yet we know, even if vicariously, it’s a drug that tends to lull the senses. Even though I have a dope-smoking narrator in my possibly-second novel, Underneath, it’s a minor transgression relative to what else he gets up to, put there to give him something to do with his hands while he’s waiting for his girlfriend to come back to bed. And although there’s a drug dealer in Lisa McInerney’s audacious debut, and I’ve mentioned crack in the heading of my review, I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate (all these different names for drugs do confuse me) but there is purely for the alliteration. Fact is, I’m not terribly interested in mood-altering substances, whether legal or otherwise, and it took me a little longer than I might have expected to lose myself in Tim Winton’s magnificent Eyrie because it kicks off with the hangover from hell.
I suppose that exemplifies my difficulty with the notion of “vice”: it’s either too strong (and possibly judgemental) a word for a behaviour that might be an expression of an individual’s unhappiness or powerlessness, and too weak a word for the harm that a character’s vice might do to others. So, for my flash, I’m setting that aside and taking a less serious look at vice, sparked by this being the time of the year to get serious about gardening, I’m continuing with a thread which began with my flash on standing up to bullies and picked up in the one on neighbours. If you’re familiar with my Twitter profile, you’ll probably see where this one is going:
Really I’m doing them a favour, encouraging the birds into their patch. If there’s one thing about my neighbours, they like their birds. Fuck knows why: damned squawking things, carpet-bombing the patio with their white splodges. Takes a thorough blitz with the steam cleaner to get them off.
I used to squidge them when I caught them chewing my hostas, but it never felt right. Grey slime coagulating my fingers, even through gloves. Since I’ve been tossing them over the fence into their lettuces, I’ve felt positively Zen-like. It’s bad karma to kill another living creature, even a slug.