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You sell space. Not space that you can live in, roam around in, make yourself at home in, stretch out and relax in. And not the kind of space you can send rockets to, have satellites beaming messages from, the sort of space that can leave you befuddled in your efforts to conceptualise its limitlessness. You sell advertising space in magazines and the only sense of the infinite you encounter is the boundlessness of your boredom.
[private]The space you sell is a chimerical, shifting thing. If no one buys the space it ceases to exist, only to be reborn the next month, the following issue, a blank space again, waiting to be sold. This space will make you money, you tell your clients. This space is better than that other magazine’s space, you promise. Buy more of this space and you will become more successful, you say. You know it’s lies, and you think your buyers know you’re lying too, but you dare not ask them – this would be like the marionettes in a puppet show turning to the audience to ask how the show is going.
When your puppet masters leave you to yourself, you draw the handset from your throbbing ear and discuss life’s imponderables with your colleagues. Who would win a fistfight between David Cameron and Nick Clegg? If you had to sacrifice a limb, which one would it be? Tess Daly or Keira Knightley?
You sell space during the day and in the evening tug off your tie and repair to the pub to discuss with your colleagues the wretchedness of your shared days. Rounds are squared, new rounds are forged. Cigarettes are smoked and fresh packets are haggled over, purchased and shared again.
Homeward bound with a full bladder on the night’s last train. Pissing into alleyways. Hands lotioned with kebab grease and chilli sauce. A curry after payday.
Waking to a nagging alarm and a throbbing head, you calculate the last possible moment you can rise and do all the things you need to do before leaving the house to catch the train to take you back to the office to sell more space. And as you lie there, you think about space: not the space you must sell, nor the kind of space you might live in, or send rockets to. You think about the yawn of space deep inside you and you try and locate it: is it in your head or your chest, your heart or your soul – whatever that may be?
But it can’t be located, it just is. The same way infinity just is. Scientists may calculate infinity, but you just have to accept it, like the void inside you, for now at least, because you don’t have the wherewithal – energy, courage – to do anything else. So you accept it, check the clock and rise to begin another day.[/private]
G. C. Perry is not a natural salesman and no longer works in an office. One of his previous efforts was published in the Christmas 2008 issue of Litro. He lives in South London.