Farewell, My Laundry

What if we’re still heroes but nobody notices?

William Essex


Man with an umbrella, rainy street in a city. Dusk.
It’s along here somewhere. Down some steps, if I remember. Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

What I really need in my life right now is an interior monologue. I need a theme tune as well, of course, but a deep, thoughtful voice in my head, full of purpose, saying where I’m going and what I’m doing, would really make my day.

Deckard in the first Blade Runner (1982), for example? That inconveniently reminds me of the Dad looking for a present in Gremlins (1984), but never mind because some weird firing of the synapses takes me from those two to Raymond Chandler.

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” Yes!

That’s the narrator, Philip Marlowe, telling it like it is in Farewell, My Lovely (which was published as a novel in 1940 and filmed variously after that). Any first-person narrator can generally walk and talk at the same time, but I’ll stick with the greats.

Same book: “A big man but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck … he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.” That’s not Moose Malloy — that’s me!

I say all this because I was downtown earlier on (this is not true), walking the mean streets of the big city (nor is this), and I suddenly realised that what I had going through my head was “hold me closer tah di dum daah; ha di dum ha tahny daaancerrrr…” No offence to Elton John, but that is not cool. And I’ve no idea where I picked it up.

We can be hum-ha, huh ha hur ha

If you must know, I wasn’t downtown; I was at home doing laundry. Even a deep voice saying “I needed a drink. I needed a vacation. I needed a big separate laundry room. What I had was a heap of old teeshirts, some unmentionables and some detergent. I made some tea and got on with it” would have been better. [Although — coffee.]

Snag is, to have an interior monologue like that I would need to be the leading character in my own life. I was, once, and I even carried a Sony Walkman to prove it — for whatever music gave me a sense of having a theme tune.

But even back then, I’m pretty sure, my interior monologue would have been more along the lines of “ta da dee — heroes! — ta da dum — day…” than, for example, “I had the map and the expenses money for a taxi and I was on my way to meet somebody interesting” which at least occasionally would have been true.

Ta-da daah goin’ nowhere

These days, I’m the old guy in the background, or one of those guys, and generally we don’t get interior monologues. We sit at the table in the back, talking, nodding, laughing … watching, occasionally giving advice if we’re asked (we’re not) … hardly noticed by anybody, while the real action is happening up front.

But screen out the rest of it — like maybe you’d do if this was TV and you’d seen this episode too many times before — and you’d likely find that our laughter is more relaxed, our mood more laid back, than anything up front. Listen carefully, and you might even hear “I had been there and I had done that and now I had my friends around me and a drink in front of me. I wasn’t going anywhere.

And you’d be welcome to join us. Yes, now — or, y’know, when the time is right.

Just — do me one favour, okay?

Don’t ask any of these guys to sing.



William Essex

Former everything. I still write books, I still write stories. Author of The Book of Fake Futures, The Journey from Heaven, Escape Mutation.