Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Beware men on bikes

My favourite Daily Mail online story of the day is the one headlined "Loner who built network of tunnels out of rubbish in his home dies 'after getting lost in labyrinth'."

It is the now-familiar story of a man who tried to shut out the world by building himself a home made not of bricks and mortar, but refuse and treasure, which is a splendid effort environmentally speaking, but a superfluous barrier against the elements given that his new home was constructed entirely within the shelter of the old one. 

With reference to the Mail's headline, it should be pointed out that it was in some wing of this self-created stockade that our hero lost his way, and (the Mail surmises) died of dehydration. It wasn't that he was so distracted by a DVD of Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy film starring David Bowie in a Spagna wig that he clean forgot to take on any fluids.

In a lightning flash of originality, his bereaved neighbours did not make reference to him keeping himself to himself, but instead remarked on his cleverness. It is unfortunate that this mental athleticism did not extend to creating any kind of orientation device.

The Mail, with its radar ever-alert to potential signs of subversion, draws attention to two particular details of the deceased's former lifestyle: he 'wore a ponytail' and 'was often spotted riding his bike'. Well then. The neighbours should have seen his descent into utter nonconformity coming. I bet that sometimes he didn't even bother to get dressed before breakfast. I can't help feeling these aren't quite the highly significant signposts to full-blown eccentricity that the Mail insinuates. However, it's true that growing a ponytail can indeed indicate a minor, and mostly temporary, desertion of senses. Two words. David Seaman. 

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