“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
The opening line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
There is a new truth today that is rapidly gaining acceptance in our digitally connected age. It is a truth that many will learn by painful and costly experience, a truth so blatantly obvious and yet notoriously easy to ignore.
My ward-mate at the Mental health institute says that we ignore this truth at our peril. A self-made business man who left school at form IV to start work at the vegetable market, Ali has always been self employed and has never had to call anyone his boss. His businesses prospered and Ali moved into the stocks and shares market at the turn of the century.
Just over a year ago Ali ventured into on line trading buying stuff at auctions and selling it off in one or two of the main auction sites. His quick calculative mind allowed him to set up some impressive trades and before long he was doing it full-time. It paid the bills and left him in good profit but his quest was for that elusive Big deal. At around this time Ali had become quite fond of a “tipple” in the evening.
Ali takes up the story:
Wool, like anyone else, I just liked a glass of wine or a drop of whiskey as I watched telly in the comfort of my own house…what harm was I doing to anyone? When the telly got too boring with the endless interviews of lying politicians by ego hungry presenters I would go online to catch up on my emails. It started as a pattern which became a bit of a habit. After a few weeks I was coming straight into the house and heading for the desktop PC at the corner of the room. On a small table beside it was my bottle of wine.
I remember that it was on a Saturday night that Mrs Ali came to me at the PC and said she felt neglected. I was spending far more time online than with her. Was anything the matter? I apologised profusely, drained the last of the whiskey and took the cat outside. Back indoors I went to the PC to find a nice present for Mrs Ali. As I scoured the pages for something special I came upon an advert that went something like this:
JOB LOT PRODUCTION OVER RUN. SURPLUS STOCK AT FRACTION OF THE COST!!!!
I clicked on the link for further details and as far as I could gather, a men’s luxury shoe manufacturer up North somewhere had over – produced on an order and they wanted to dispose of the surplus stock of 100pcs.
The auction was live and kicking and bidding had reached sixty quid. My wine induced excitement got the better of me. I placed a maximum bid of seventy and waited.
In time they gave me the “good news” that I had won the auction. The final price was sixty-five quid. I had won 100 pcs of luxury shoes for sixty five quid! Huge profits lay ahead my son.
The package duly arrived on the Tuesday and Mrs Ali was standing there beside me as I opened it. The long box contained 100 brand new luxury leather shoes wrapped up in some type of soft tissue paper. There was something odd in that all the 100 shoes were to fit a right foot. There were no pairs.
After a long silence Mrs Ali let out a loud burst of hysterical laughter. She danced around the small dining room clapping her hands and thighs and singing in the vernacular: “come and see a fool, come ye and see for yourselves. He has been conned by conmen, come and see a fool.”
Wool, I was getting angrier by the minute. Mrs Ali seemed to be enjoying herself now and she was intent on carrying on with her mockery. Her dancing and clapping hurt me deeply and to avoid doing something that I would later regret I stormed out of the house. In my mind the single question; Where on earth was I going to sell 100 right foot only shoes, where? My creative thinking had abandoned me at my hour of need.
I drove around the countryside for several hours thinking things over and then parked at a motorway service area where I slept like a baby in the car. It was late night when I got back home. The box of shoes was still on the dining room floor. I went to the shed outside and got out a big shovel which I put in the car together with the box of shoes. I drove to a secluded spot just at the outskirts of town. It was during the process of digging a shallow grave that I was arrested. They officers were very kind but said that they would have to lock me up overnight whilst my story was verified. It was down there in the claustrophobic police cells late that night that I suffered the nervous breakdown.
Ali looked at me with moisture in his eyes. He was my only friend here at the mental institute and I really felt his pain. Mrs Ali had not visited him once in the time that he had been here.
“And the truth that you wanted to share, Ali”, I asked
“Don’t go online when you’ve been drinking”. He sighed, got up and put on his slippers…..