He can imagine me as a boy, W. says, cycling out through the new housing estates, and through what remained of the woodland – muddy tracks along field-edges, fenced-in bridleways and overgrown footpaths. —‘You were looking for something’, he says. ‘You knew something was missing.’
He sees it in his mind’s eye: I’m carrying my bike over the railway bridge. I’m cycling through glades of tree stumps in the forestry plantations. I’m following private roads past posh schools and riding academies. I’m looking for barrows and ley lines, W. says. I’m looking for Celtic gods and gods of any kind.
And what do I find as I wheel my bike across the golf course? What, in the carpark of an out-of-town retail park? What, on the bench outside the supermarket, eating my discounted sandwiches? The everyday, W. says, which is to say, the opposite of the gods.
Religion is about this world, about the ordinary, the everyday, W. says, over our pints at The Queen’s Oak. Why does no one understand that? W. says. Why will no one listen?
But when it comes to the everyday itself, I am the expert, not him, W. says. Only I understand what it means to reach the depths, which is to say the surface, of the everyday.
It has to be felt, the everyday, W. is convinced of that. It has to have defeated you. Humiliated you. A man who hasn’t been brought to his knees by the everyday can have no understanding of the everyday, says W., aphoristically.
I’ve certainly been brought to my knees, W. says, that much is clear. I’ve spent whole years on my knees.
‘We are ferociously religious’, says W., quoting Bataille. Are we? —‘Oh yes’, W. says, ‘especially you. Especially you!’ That’s why he hangs out with me, w. says, he’s sure of it: my immense religious instinct, of which I am entirely unaware.
It’s all to do with my intimate relationship with the everyday, W. says. It’s to do with my years of unemployment and menial work, he says.
When he thinks of religion, he immediately thinks of me working in my warehouse, he says. He thinks of me in the warehouse with no hope in my life.
Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday, W. says. Only they can approach the everyday at its level. And only those who can approach the everyday in such a way are really religious, W. says.