Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

Low life | 20 August 2011

I open my eyes. I’m on my back looking up at the neat joinery of a wooden roof.

I open my eyes. I’m on my back looking up at the neat joinery of a wooden roof. Resting between two of the cross trees is a row of handmade longbows. Green daylight filters through bushes and trees outside the window. I’m half in and half out of a sleeping bag on the floor of a cabin, next to an old-fashioned pot-bellied stove. I don’t know how I got here, or exactly where this is. But I’m assuming it can only be Ted’s place, the hideaway in the woods where he practises and teaches survival skills and makes love to all the ladies who continuously parade through his life.
I only know Ted from standing next to him at the bar sometimes, and usually when we speak we keep things on a purposefully superficial level. His preferred topic is always women. He generally arrives fairly late and carefully studies the clientele to see if there are any females with whom he might have a chance of success. He is often surprisingly unfussy in his choice of victim. Ted is in his forties so you’d think he might be past sexual promiscuity by now. Far from it. He’s fanatical about it.

Is he handsome? Well, he’s not got much hair, but his face is alive and forceful and perhaps handsome in a roguish kind of way. Occasionally I look at it when he’s scanning the crowd and see something beyond roguish — something goatish or even Satanic about it. It’s also a symmetrical face, bearing out university research results I saw published last week in a tabloid newspaper that people with symmetrical faces are more selfish than the rest of us. Apparently this is because attractive people are more self-sufficient and therefore have less of an incentive to co-operate or ask for help than us munters.

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