Image by Christine Renney
It happened quite suddenly. Douglas was standing with his colleagues early one morning and they were talking as they always did at that hour, before scurrying off to their stations and beginning the day’s work. They were talking about the games of course. Douglas had watched the tournament the night before and he had much to say and yet he didn’t say it. He was listening intently, nodding along when he agreed, and when he didn’t stepping back a little and shaking his head. The others didn’t notice him moving off to the side, that he was no longer a part of it.
Throughout the morning Douglas brooded and at lunchtime he was still brooding. Hunched over his plate he listened again as the others picked up the conversation from earlier. He realised that they were in fact beginning again. The venue had changed but amid the clutter of the canteen it was a repeat performance.
Douglas watched his colleagues enthusing just as enthusiastically as they had before. He gazed around the vast dining hall, groups of workers were gathered at every table. Douglas couldn’t hear what they were saying from where he sat but he did notice each tableau was identical, the same body language, the same inflections and expressions.
Douglas pushed aside his plate and he started to wander. The hall was cavernous and he tried to concentrate but the voices weren’t in any way synchronised. No, it was an angry clash, an impenetrable din. In order to hear, he needed to get in close. And this he did, moving up on table after table, from group to group. It was one conversation, the one he was already familiar with and it was playing out at varying levels of intensity, a debate constantly finding ways in which to begin again.