The Ex Factor. Exit, Pursued by a Bear

“All my ex’s live in Texas” sang the man on the radio. It rhymed, which is half the battle in writing a song or a jibe.  So that’s why he hangs his hat in Tennessee. I get it. Distance gives him some perspective on his failed relationships. In fairness he seems to accept  a fair amount of the blame. There’s a good persuasive rhythm to the song too and a spot of wry humour. I like it. Another fellow on the radio talked incessantly about relationships and love, the staple ingredient for whimpering pop songs. It was, in fairness, Valentine’s Day. I feel a “Bah! Humbug!” coming on. He always talks incessantly. I reached for the little button beside the volume control. It’s a marvellous gadget. By depressing the button you can restore tranquillity to your life, instead of depressing yourself by listening to prattle or songs devoted to You, Baby,Love, My Heart, Leaving, You and me Baby, Love etc. It can also eliminate bad news, advertisements, (‘all those garden chairs–when they’re gone they’re really gone’). and the prattle of lemmings in Westminster arguing about, em, Brexit. ‘Can the Right Honourable Member describe this cliff?’ The little button does wonders for your blood pressure.

But wait. He was burbling about an anti-love Valentine’s message for your Ex. ‘It’s a bit of fun.’ There is a service where you can name a cockroach after your Ex and watch it being devoured by a larger creature. There is a more expensive grade which involves a salmon being devoured by a bear. I wondered what the most expensive, super-de-luxe version of proxy hatred might be. Could it be a scapegoat, laden with the sins of the reviled Ex, or even a human Sin-eater as was once the practice in primitive societies. People tired of this world could hire themselves out (This offer cannot be repeated) to be torn to shreds by tigers. Public spectacles could be arranged in stadiums to vent the hatred of jilted spouses and lovers on the hapless Ex’s. ‘When they’re gone they’re really gone. ‘ Would people go to watch? Would they what? ‘It’s  a bit of fun.’ The more humane thing would be to pack them off to Tennessee.

I wondered about the obverse of love. The hatred and disappointment. The resentment at opportunities foregone or denied. The void where love and loyalty once dwelt  or even empathy or even pity. The desire for revenge. Where’s that bloody cockroach? The cat taking evasive action to avoid a boot. The rancid despair and venom that makes someone want to inflict pain and suffering on another human being. I came to the conclusion that the Ex had a lucky escape. Better to hang one’s hat in Tennessee and start again. You would be close to Nashville. When you’re gone, you’re gone. Why, you might even write a song about it.

Aristotle defined tragedy as the imitation of an action  that inspires pity and fear and purges those emotions in the audience to make them better human beings. It’s play-acting. They don’t kill the bad guy in reality. Even the bad guys come out after the curtain to take a bow and receive the plaudits of a grateful audience. But you knew that already. It’s a different thing entirely to derive pleasure from the infliction of pain on another creature, even a cockroach. It is less than human. It’s not a bit of fun.

I pressed the button. Silence. I pressed the button on the electric kettle. I needed a cup of tea. You can do likewise if you’ve had enough. There is a little X in the red square in the top right-hand corner of the screen. It…………..

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