5 Mar

Bill and Ben were brothers, though you’d be hard pushed to know it if you were to meet them casually. The contrast was even more stark when you realise that not only were they brothers, but they were twin brothers.
Not identical twins, though!
No: far from it. Bill was to grow into a youth as lithe and fit and fond of exercise. He was off jogging round the neighbourhood as soon as he heard that jogging might be good for you. He was still in his teens when he equipped himself with a wardrobe appropriate to one who enjoys trotting along streets and down country lanes. Summer and winter alike he wore a track suit and because he felt the need to be noticed it was a yellow track suit. And he stuck to a variety of yellow track-suits for the rest of his life. He believed in uniform!
“I need to be seen,” he explained. And he did. He most certainly needed to be seen almost as much as he needed to be heard. His was the sort of mind that got itself cluttered with notions he couldn’t shake as easily as many would have liked, and when he discovered the Internet whilst in his middle years he began plaguing the virtual world with his theories and beliefs.
And he was a great one for repetition. He repeated just about everything so many times that most people switched off.
Mostly his preoccupation was with politics.
Like many pretentious people he saw himself as being a tad more socially elevated than reality had made him. He tended to behave as if he wasn’t the offspring of a working man in a working family, where ha had spent his childhood in a working-class home. He was too good for that!
And when it came to the pontifications and elaborate pretences of those with a background in high finance and who were born with silver spoons tumbling from their mouths he was sucked in. It mattered not a jot that the world they inhabited was a quantum Universe away from his far more humble little patch of land. It was of no concern to him that the things they most desired involved taking from the poor and further enriching the already wealthy. He identified with them because he simply had to.
He wanted to be one of them, plain and simple, and anyone who suggested there might be something wrong with his thinking was dismissed out of hand and for good. His list of friends became shorter.
Ben, on the other hand, was cut from a different bale of cloth. He may have possessed virtually identical genes to those owned by his twin brother, but he was as different to him as chalk is to cheese.
He didn’t go jogging everywhere but it wasn’t that he was particularly lazy. He had a keen mind and, on occasion, an acerbic wit. But he could see little point in the huge amount of jogging his twin shoe-horned into his life and even less point in yellow track-suits. Yet if he were called to perform some feat, like walking to the shops or scrambling up a scree-slope on holiday in some dales somewhere, he managed all right.
No, his delight was in rational thinking, which meant his mind was extremely cynical about the political aspirations of his twin. Rather than imagine himself in a place he’d never go (both physically and figuratively) he let the world roll him along, though he did have quite a few critical words to say about his brother’s choices when it came to political elections, but that was Bill’s fault for repeatedly elaborating on them.
So we have two brothers, and they both grew old – not together, they were hardly ever together. But the years did what years do, and they became old.
As he grew older Bill, who was so convinced of his very rightness about everything and who quarrelled with everyone who showed any signs of gainsaying him, began to wonder why nobody sought his company. Oh, he’d wander to the local pub (in his yellow track-suit) and treat the few equally lonely men he met there as bosom friends, but that wasn’t so often. And when he left they chuckled about the absurdity of such a pretentious man.
Ben, though not absolutely surrounded by a panoply of obsequious and sycophantic friends (what man is?) entered old age with what almost amounted to contentment. In fact, he barely noticed it.
Neither of them had ever been religious men or possessed any great comforting faith, and Bill started to worry that not so far ahead might be the end of his life, and he didn’t believe in any kind of afterlife, so what might be in store for him? When he lay in his coffin, what might people think?
Ben, though, knew his own afterlife.
Ahead, beyond the few years bracketed by his life, lay the good and loving memories of his family and friends, and even though he wouldn’t be there to bask in them he knew they’d be there all right.
© Peter Rogerson 05.03.16


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