33: Biscuits – Mending

I dread filling in forms. I have a form of formophobia, so to speak. For there is usually that question without a question mark, occupation, and I never know how to answer. For I never did consistently work at anything, except when I was an undergraduate, and after that when I was a post-graduate, and I suppose it is fair to include the time was commissioned to write a book about the philosophy of the Roman Stoic teacher Epictetus. That, I think, is the extent of my list. If I was an associate lecturer, that was for eight weeks. If I was a tutor, that was for one term. To be sure, I have always been occupied by reading and, to a lesser extent, by writing. But those answers are not what the ques­tion is asking. Occu­pa­tion seems to be a demand that I justify my existence, my entitlement to wear clothes and sleep in a bed, and I cannot. I have no defence to offer, for I have never had an occupation of the sort that others seem to have. I struggle even to fantasise about how it must feel to be able to respond ‘bus driver’, ‘solicitor’, ‘road sweeper’, ‘aeronautical engineer’, ‘wallpaper designer’. But no. There are no such expressions that will align with the life that I have actually lived. For all those years, I cared for my sick and disabled wife. But that is not the answer that the question is asking. I am tempted to play the fool, and write ‘broken biscuit mender’, but that way trouble lies. And I have never liked trou­ble.

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