At last The Eurovision Song Contest has a serious reason to be: it has focused the spotlight of publicity on the brutal dictatorship that runs Azerbaijan, this year’s host country, making it clear that we, the masses, have yet another fight on our hands to free our fellows from the tyranny of oligarchy.
Not that I have much scope for helping them out right now: I am busy trying to empty my in-tray so that I can escape to Scotland for two weeks of trekking and whisky-sampling. But as fast as I empty it more stuff lands and demands my attention. During my sleep I dream about tasks unfulfilled and, on waking, am disinclined to approach the desk for fear they have multiplied. One may argue that the tyranny of my in-tray is a self-inflicted misery which could be resolved by the dispatch of each item as soon as it lands. But this would be no less a tyranny since it would demand instant action regardless of my inclination. The only way I can see to dodge all this stress is to live the life of a Buddhist monk.
Instead of which I might just buy a stack of 3 trays. It would work like this: the top tier would contain things that must be done urgently - such as the payment of a tax bill - in order to avoid imprisonment or dire financial penalty. The second tier would be for things that ought to be done urgently - such as sponsoring nephews doing sporting challenges - but which incur softer, social penalties. The bottom tier would be the repository for things I would really like to do - such as see all the films, plays and gigs whose reviews I have cut out and collected hopefully. This would be the tray of dreams and the penalty for ignoring it, regret, only become payable at some time in the distant future. Any life-coach guru worth their salt would absolutely reverse this running order.
As a prelude to the Scottish trip I went walking with friends on the sodden peat moorlands of the so-called “Forest” of Bowland where it became evident that my cracked and leaking trekking boots were beyond repair and that their replacements should be given the same top priority status as paying off HMRC. Buying new boots is a pleasingly straightforward process because they are among the few items of clothing which are not in thrall to fashion (unless they are made in Italy). Nor can buying them sensibly be done on the internet: a perfect fit is all-important and a visit to a specialist shop essential.
And specialist shops are staffed by experts: in this case a young woman whose knowledge of boots and trekking shone like a beacon through the haze of indecision that overcame me as I confronted the massive display of footwear. She measured my feet, offered me a choice of two pairs and within 15 minutes had me paying top whack for an indestructible pair of Austrians. Good boots are expensive but there is satisfaction to be had in paying for quality rather than branding - or so I assured myself.
I felt a little foolish wearing these big boots at home - for that is what she advised to resolve any lingering doubts about the fit (they won’t take them back if they have been worn outdoors) - but I am convinced they do fit and must now decide on the best place to file the “caring for your boots” leaflet which I have dumped into the in-tray. I will deal with it when I return from Scotland - but I do hope they will have sorted out that trouble in Azerbaijan by then.