"Tooking for a Lowel" - remembering Patrick Campbell
|Patrick Campbell, BBC TV, 1970|
Lying awake to the cacophonous accompaniment of nightlong rubble clearance from the demolition site below my balcony, my sleep deprived mind came briefly, if randomly, to rest on a reminiscence of an old-style Irish columnist, raconteur and 'personality' (we had these in the days before celebrities) called Patrick Campbell.
It occurred to me that if he were alive today he'd have made a perfect blogger, with his unfailing ability to weave something from nothing. For example, long before Douglas Adams wrote Hitch Hiker's Guide, Patrick Campbell had penned a short story called Tooking for a Lowel, possibly the first literary exploration of the effects of separation from one's bath towel. Did Adams plagiarise it? Almost certainly not, but it's not important.
The reason for Campbell's night visitation was another of his stories in which he describes, in excruciating detail, trying to write his column while a road gang were giving it big licks with pneumatic drills just outside his window. As he observed, it's not the drill noise itself that destroys the nerves. The brain can shut out almost any constant noise. It's the sudden silences punctated by the gasping compressor, the sudden restart of the next salvo. It's the anticipation that murders sleep. The dread.
Campbell had his drills. I have my JCB. Pity the poor souls in Libya whose current 'irritation' is heavy ordnance.