I inspected the setting
concrete that was transforming my front garden
into a parking area. Just a six foot by three
foot section remained to pour.
Suddenly, my attention was
drawn to an object flying high in the sky, but
descending rapidly towards me. Was it a bird? Was
it a plane? In an instant a masked, caped and
leotard clad figure landed by my side.
Who are you? I
said, noting the imposing letter G emblazoned
upon his chest.
I am Guiltman,
announced the figure. I am a superhero. I
have come to make you feel guilty about
concreting your front garden.
I was puzzled. Why?
Because it will
compromise drainage and contribute to flooding
Shouldnt you be
deflecting asteroids or foiling supervillains?
I responded with irritation.
Thats a bit
twentieth century, he replied disparagingly.
These days we superheros target ordinary
people who are driving the planet to ecological
ruin or eschewing healthy lifestyles. He
pointed his finger accusingly at me. People
like you! he emphasised in a decisive and
I picked up my spade and
began to deepen the trench for the final concrete
pour. Is there anything else I should be
feeling guilty about? I enquired.
Its a long
list, he answered. Your house isnt
adequately insulated; your television is mostly
left on standby; you dont use energy saving
lightbulbs; you rarely buy organic produce; you
dont usually buy Fairtrade products; you
buy products with excessive packaging; your car
has an unnecessarily large engine; you drive when
you could walk; you dont take enough
exercise; youre overweight; you eat too
much fat, sugar and salt; you rarely have five
portions of vegetables a day; you drink more than
twenty-one units of alcohol per week
sometimes per day; you smoke; you take holidays
with high carbon footprints; you rarely recycle;
you dont compost
By the time his list was
complete I had finished digging. Many of
those things could be said about most people,
I observed, and some are what make life fun.
If its fun,
replied Guiltman, its almost
certainly unhealthy or ecologically unsound
thats one way you can tell! If youre
enjoying yourself, you should always stop and
feel particularly guilty.
I climbed from my
excavation. Youve now told me
everything I should feel guilty about. What
Guiltman turned away from
me and looked skyward. I must journey
onwards, he pronounced with a majestic and
heroic voice. Each house in this road, each
road in this town and each town in this land must
be visited to maximise the burden of twenty-first
century worry and guilt assailing every citizen!
convinced me that I should do my bit for mankind,
I conceded, as my spade connected with the back
of his head.
Guiltman slumped forwards
into the hole, and I was gratified that I had
correctly estimated the extra depth required to
accommodate the body.
It was early evening as I
levelled the final section of concrete. It had
been a hard days work, but my new Ferrari
would be arriving in a day or two, so the parking
area had to be finished. Now I would drive to get
a takeaway and a wine box for the evening. Then I
could relax without a care in the world.