“Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late, late, late, late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a
smoke, and Somebody spoke and I went into a dream”*
Only to wake up and find yourself still on that same bus (Smoking Not Allowed), heading to work, with some loud-mouthed fool in the row behind shouting some shite into their phone. Still feeling slightly foggy from the daydream, you have a feeling of deja vu; only for reality to come crashing in - hobnails first, as you realise this is your existence, this! is your day to day reality. Once off this bus, you’ll go to your office and join your fellow drones, clock in, clock out, clock in, clock out, the process relieved by a beer and a limp sandwich at lunch time.
In the last chapter of Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus, he outlines the legend of Sisyphus, the man who defied the gods and placed death in chains, so that no human need die. Finally after several false starts, the gods caught and punished him for all eternity to roll a rock up a mountain, only for it to fall down again, but you’ve done nothing that heroic. The nearest you got was not spilling that kebab, you took home the other night after consuming fifteen pints of the landlords finest, one heroic moment in a life of pointless drudgery.
Everyday is a collection of short stories by Lee Rourke, although as it says in the introduction some are so short that they hardly qualify, that the writer’s preferred term is Fragments, fragments of a larger picture without end. There is no complete whole in Everyday, instead what we get are glimpses, framed through dirty cracked windows, of a London full of unfulfilled people, lives so beyond melancholic it hurts. These are individuals who’s snapping point has long been reached and it wasn’t a straw that broke the camel’s back, more likely a rusty crowbar. The men and women float in and out of each others lives through one night stands, bar meetings or just through work, sometimes the situations turn violent, even deadly, but for the most part people reach their limit and just keep bumping, grinding and then carrying on. Occasionally though they commit small acts of rebellion, occasionally they walk out on their jobs, or take a different route, or just walk the streets without purpose for a moment forgetting their day to day existence.
Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, saw Sisyphus as personifying the absurdity of human life describing that “the Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual's search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe.That as beings looking for meaning in a meaningless world, humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma” these being through Suicide, Faith, or acceptance of the Absurd: a solution in which one accepts the Absurd and continues to live in spite of it. Camus endorsed this solution, believing that by accepting the Absurd, one can achieve absolute freedom. Lee Rourke doesn’t merely accept this, he celebrates it with his glass raised high.
In this, the flipside of trendy London, there is no dark underbelly, and any romance here will die stillborn, this is apathy writ large, written by the writer with a humour and gusto that belies the stories told, that will pull you in, maybe tentatively to begin with, at first you may grimace, but in a short time you will be grinning - acknowledging the dark screwed up humour within.
**** A day in the Life (The Beatles)