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I don’t believe in fate.

There we go. I’ve said it. To me, fate and destiny are the sort of intangible things that a certain type of person places their hopes on. That sort of person will, in my mind, probably drift through life searching for some sort of pre-determined existence. One where they end up with Mr Perfect (not that I am, in any way, implying girls are more susceptible to this way of thinking), in their dream job and living in utopia for the rest of their days. Fine, to each their own. The harsh reality of returning home to a cat-infested flat after a busy day selling lucky heather might be a little hard to stomach, so let them dream.

I have never subscribed to this point of view in the slightest. If you succeed or fail in something, it is usually your fault. Granted, there’s invariably an element of fortune to add to the mixer, but on the whole life tends to give you what you put into it. If you get fired, it’s probably because you’re shit at your job. If you met your future spouse when they tripped over and landed in your crème brule, then it’s a lucky (there it is) meeting between people who are presumably fairly outgoing and possess a sense of humour. As for people who say “the moment I saw this house, I knew I had to live here”, I give up. No, you didn’t. You had a budget and because you’re not a complete cretin, you realised that it was a good deal.

This attitude may seem overly cynical, but it has held me in good stead. As a result, it made it much harder to swallow when the other day I realised the Moirai had decided that I should never, on any count, travel.

I know what you’re thinking. Here comes another tired rant about how abhorrent the underground is, or how unjustifiably expensive trains are. And yes, I would love to write an article about how Bob Crowe looks like a badger’s foreskin, however I think this is something that has been done before, and presumably by considerably more loquacious and amusing people than I.

The brutal and sad reality of my situation is that whenever I go anywhere, something terrible happens.

The warning signs had been there from an early age. Years ago I remember coming in to land at Luton airport, only for the plane I was in to suddenly lurch back into an ascent a mere hundred metres from the ground. The reason? There was another plane on the runway. I’m no air-traffic expert, but there has to be a warning system that is an improvement on eyesight when it comes to avoiding collisions.

Fast-forward a few years, and my Ryanair flight back from Dublin was on the verge of taking off before the engines were cut off and we waited for a few hours on the runway, while the air steward cheerfully announced that they were looking for a refuelling truck. Again, I’m not exactly Louis Bleriot, but I know that fuel is, on the whole, a handy thing to have an abundance of at 30,000ft. It’s unfair to bash Ryanair though, I mean they must know how useless they are. Presumably the only reason their interiors are painted a lurid yellow is so in hindsight their customers might just erase the last 2 hours of their lives from memory, writing it off as some horrific psychedelic trip that never actually happened.

As time has progressed, the warning shots that the gods had fired across my bows began to train their sights. But not directly. Oh no, what they have done instead is to make me passively to blame for nearly every horrendous thing that has happened in this country.

I was on holiday at the time of the 7/7 bombings in London. A few years later, I was sunning myself when Lehmans imploded, plunging the western world into chaos. In August, I watched from a television in Spain as civilisation collapsed momentarily and London burned. Only three weeks ago, a routine trip down to Devon for a weekend away resulted in me sitting on the M5 for 10 hours as one of the worst car crashes in British history occurred a few miles ahead of me. Even my boyhood hero, the legendary Ayrton Senna, died when I was abroad. It is actually irresponsible of me to go on holiday.

It affects a man deeply, that sort of responsibility. All I have to do is venture beyond the M25 and the next time I turn on the television it is with fear and trepidation, expecting cross-channel emergency news bulletins announcing the worst. At sea they would call me a Jonah and most probably abandon me on some desert island. But this is not an option. Because a desert island would involve travelling.

So I must do everything that I can, and to this end I am doing nothing. The next time I take some annual leave from work, you will find me confined to the public safety of my own flat. Surrounded by cats. Selling lucky heather.

by Harry Harland
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