July 30th – She was born in spring, but I was born too late.

Cleaned myself: 0
Monkey see, monkey do: 1
Tics: plus ca change.
Believe in God? 0%

Right, let’s be straight about it. There cannot be a God. It’s absurd. Is She supposed to be God of the earth, the universe, or the bits beyond the universe that we haven’t seen yet? And that bit about having a day off. Even that’s ridiculous; if you work for six days then stop, you haven’t had a day off, you’ve retired. I mean, how can grown ups even fall for all that? How can they not see that God was a narrative that suited people who wanted to be in control; who wanted to be seen as the people who could explain the strange phenomena that was experienced by their subjects, like hurricanes, thunder & lightning, the seasons, and neighbours who talked to themselves and defecated outside.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dustin-belt-beach-hut.jpg
it was more of a field hospital really.

But there is a force in the universe. It’s not for good, or bad; it’s for balance, and weak-minded souls like me sometimes get it mixed up with Her.

I’ll give you an example. On Sunday afternoon, it was the last round of Premier League matches for the season. I had struck a bet at about Christmas, at 100/1, on which I had staked £25, that Jesse Lingard – look him up if you’re unsure, would not score a single goal in the whole season. And by the time Sunday came, not only had he not scored a goal, he had hardly played a game, and so the bet, albeit made without much conviction at the time, came to keep me company when my more reasoned strategies had fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.

At half-time he was still on the bench, but that was when I made my crucial error. I went to have a rest, and a think about Mrs Lindsay. I imagined her in Julia Louis Dreyfuss’s Malibu beach house, where I had been sent to recuperate from a severe but not life-threatening bout of Covid. Julia was off filming, and from a mix up in arrangements, Mrs Lindsay ended up taking over the nursing duties. Luckily, she always packs a nurse’s uniform.

Roll on into the second-half, Milfchester are 1-0 up, and seem content to resist the waves of Legerdemain Circle, who will beat them for third place if they win the match. The only thing that can stop me now, is an unlikely break away, if indeed Jesse even comes on. Surely, we won’t commit men forward now. A draw will do us. Then I made my second mistake. I counted the bet, that bit where you assign the winnings and start to apply them to the gaps they’ll fill, in your head.

Just over ten minutes to play now, and there’s a substitution. He’s on. But he’s part of the resistance. Legerdemain are throwing everything at us, and we’re content to keep them at bay. Soon, time’s up, but there have been stoppages, so there’ll be a bit of extra time to play. Eight minutes! Eight minutes! When’s it ever eight minutes? From being relatively relaxed about the whole thing, suddenly my heart is in my mouth, and out of nowhere we start trying to play killer passes out of defence to nick the goal that puts it beyond doubt. But Jesse’s nowhere near the target of the passes – he’s on orders not to go forward, and to stay behind with the rest and do his bit. I’m breathing audibly now. I’m what-iffing, and why me-ing, and slowly, second by second, the clock ticks up to the 98-minute mark. All we want to do is get off the pitch. We’re booting it out into the stands, wasting time. We won’t concede two goals now. It can’t be done. The outcome is known. They’re fifth, we’re third. The clock ticks on into the last minute of the last game of the season. It’s cleared. Lingard picks up a clearance aimed at nobody. And … scores. As soon as they kick off the ref blows up and the season’s over.

I go to the mirror and look at my reflection for a very long time. Saying nothing. Until eventually I start crying.

Oh, there’s no God all right, but there’s something out there, some powerful force which is capable of deflecting a speculative shot heading miles off target, looping over the goalkeepers head in the last minute to scupper all bets; which can cause horses that are clear, fall at the last; that makes that horse, the one that only you know about, turn up at 50/1 as soon as you decide to stop backing it; that makes someone who should not even have been at the stadium, score a consolation goal when it didn’t matter.

She’s not God; She’s karma, energy, balance, I don’t know her name, but I know what it feels like when she comes to dispense justice.

Thanks to Dustin Belt for the image