Where’s Paul?

An endlessly helpful man called Kevin sends me a regular weekly bulletin about the latest properties he has for sale on his list.

Kevin is an estate agent in central Portugal, where I have conceived a fancy to retire. I hope to escape from this increasingly unpleasant nation of ugly, poorly informed moaners, trolls and Daily Mail readers who honestly believe that the United Kingdom Independence Party is not a proto-fascist movement dunked in liquid nostalgia for the good old days; that it provides a genuine, principled alternative to the existing political parties and that, if elected, it will reintroduce competent government, throw out immigrants and asylum-seekers and people on benefits, provide millions of jobs just for English people, abolish the Health & Safety executive, rescue the economy from austerity, turn all the clocks back to 1954 and restore the Commonwealth. The great British Banana must henceforth be curved!

The emails Kevin thoughtfully sends me never have anything on them. Other than briefly stating their place of origin and purpose, they are completely blank. They used to have stuff, properties and so on, but gradually the information content has been digitally whittled down to zero. I got in touch with Kevin about this, and he suggested I paste the emails into my web browser, or something. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about, there doesn’t seem to be any way of doing it. Anyway, the properties are all on his website, so I can just go there to pass a pleasurable hour or so, dreaming of flight. The only remaining obstacle is to sell my house! But, just as all the houses have disappeared from Kevin’s e-bulletins, so have all the house-buyers disappeared from Britain’s grimy streets. Very peculiar.

And, indeed, I am noticing one or two other things disappearing. About two weeks ago, the little icon on my taskbar, that you click to bring up a slider to adjust the speaker volume, just vanished. I checked the hidden icons, everywhere around the desktop, on the Media Player, in the Control Panel and all the audio settings, and it was nowhere to be found. Finally, I located an obscure checkbox in which the Volume control appeared in the Off position, but it wouldn’t let me switch it On again: it was greyed-out, for no apparent reason. This morning, after a couple of days away in London, I turned on the computer and, like the proverbial teenager, it was back again with no convincing explanation of its whereabouts.

Various other things have been disappearing, but the sad thing is, they are also disappearing from my memory and I can’t think what they are. I had a list in my head before starting this Post, but it’s gone. I know about the letter ‘r’, that often doesn’t appear now first-time while I am typing; also, the lettering on my keypad is wearing off after only nine months in use. The ‘a’ and the ‘n’ have completely gone, but most of the letters are showing signs of word-weariness, with amputated limbs and only partial curves. The ‘o’ looks like a crescent moon.

I have recently been performing in a play in which I occupy two minor comic characters. I have invested them with great personality and presence, deploying all my considerable thespian skill and experience, funny voices, rolling eyes and all, but once again, the reviewers have ignored me and instead, lavishly complimented another actor who speaks two lines. I do not wish to detract from her performance, I am sure it was noteworthy, but I am reminded that recently, with the same company, I have twice played leading roles and created characters and sung solo unaccompanied songs (tunefully, in key) and was again ignored by the critics in favour of praise being heaped on some interesting aspect of the set.

I fear therefore, that I too may be disappearing inexorably (although tradespeople keep taking my money, that at least must still be real). My eventual exodus to Portugal will ring down the curtain on my undistinguished, but sadly extinguished, existence. ‘He’s gone to Portugal’ will become a euphemism among my few acquaintances to rival other slighting geographical references, such as ‘Ugandan discussions’, ‘French letters’ and ‘Spanish practices’.

And I shall awake to find myself gone.

PS – I have it! I have remembered another thing that has vanished! When I click Publish, there used to be a little whizzer next to the button, that showed WordPress’s thought processes in motion. Now, there is nothing there and I have to have faith that my words are being recorded. I wish I had learned to touch-type in my youth, but journalism taught me only how to use three fingers while staring morosely at the keys, whose letters are vanishing one-by-one. There is some hidden meaning there, I feel.