Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Article excerpt

My hangover was what the great Kingsley Amis describes in his Everyday Drinking guide as a 'metaphysical' hangover. Apart from the usual feeling of being unwell, stealing over me was that 'ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future'. Amis's remedy was to read the final scene of 'Paradise Lost', Book XII, lines 606 to the end, 'which is probably the most poignant moment in all our literature'. Otherwise he recommends battle poems, such as Chesterton's 'Lepanto'. But now the random selection of images and scenes recollected from the previous evening paused on a new and particularly horrific one. So before I searched for 'Lepanto', before rising even, I reached for the phone and typed in 'how to clean vomit from the inside of a car'.

I am evidently not the first person to type this sentence into a search engine. I chose one of the many YouTube demonstration videos available. Tim Duke, a car valeter from Orem in Utah -- cargo shorts, reversed baseball cap -- was kneeling in the back of an SUV and briskly demonstrating his own method.

Tim was aged about 18 and seemed remarkably habituated to this gruesome task. Maybe it is not unusual for the inhabitants of Orem in Utah to vomit over the interiors of their monster SUVs. Or maybe young Tim was the valeting company's designated vomit guy and trying to make the best of it. 'Oi! Duke the Puke! Another SUV for you at the regurgitation station.' But I rather thought that the commendable absence of disgust, both physical and moral, in his attitude to his job, was more likely due to an adolescent's frenetic and dramatic love life making everything else appear insignificant; to the vomiting of himself and his friends whenever they could afford to buy enough alcohol; to his thankfulness to the Lord for the provision of a full-time job in these straitened times; and perhaps to his starring at such a tender age in a YouTube clip with 55,000 views.

Vomit on an SUV's carpet was meat and drink to him. He did not say, as did other YouTube vomit-cleaning video stars: 'Accidents happen.' To Tim, emollient clichés such as this were otiose, the domain of those not living life to the full. His non-judgmental attitude was such a comfort that I suppressed an impulse to write him a fan letter. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.