A LIFE IN THE DAY #6

By Edward Wilkinson Latham

Kevin Henri Roventhropp 40, christened Michael Drodge, is a philosopher, author of 23 books and the founder of the Bishop’s Way Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in the Hampshire market town of Andover. He lives with his wife, the lingerie model ‘V’ and their three children, Plato 17, Thomas-Aquinas 14 and Kierkegaard 6.

“I consider myself as a 'philosophe engage' – a philosopher who gets involved, and on this estate we need all the engagers we can get, especially at nights when the hoodies come out. I’ve philosophized and philosophized, again and again, by myself and with some of my mates. I’ve consulted books in the library by the likes of Carl Cohen, especially his essays on moral and political philosophy. I’ve flicked through Nietzsche’s writings on the excesses of human pleasure and I’ve read the pocket form teachings of a second century Chinese philosopher named Wang Po, who was known to strike his opponents in mid sentence. They all agree that when it comes to the crunch and your chips fall to the floor, you’ve got to take action and make sure you’re the last one standing.

The town of Andover is an ideal ‘petri dish’, as we say in philosophy, for the study of market town peoples; a reoccurring subject in my work. Besides I was born here. I’m fascinated by our tribal habits, eating preferences and rough mating ceremonies. The only time I have not lived in Andover is when I was eight. I was sent to live with my grandparents in Lymington Spa for six months. I met a boy there called Basil who had a small tail. Well, more of a nub. Apparently it’s quite common. We used to gather fossils together on the beach and fish for guppies in rock pools with a small net. His father was from Azerbaijan and took him away after school one day. He still lives with father in Hull to this day.

I’ve written twenty-three philosophical and anthropological books, including ‘HOW MANY PINTS JOHN?’ ‘ENGLISH MARKET TOWN MORALITY AND INSURANCE CLAIMS’ and ‘WAS SOMETHING PUT IN THE WATER SUPPLY TO ACCOUNT FOR THIS BEHAVIOR?’ I’ve spent hundreds of hours talking and living, even crying with these people. I went so far in my studies to even marry one of them for God’s sake. And have children on the side with three others. Sometimes I can get very depressed. Maybe it’s the child support, but the countryside of northern Hampshire cheers me up. I go out driving a lot, you see. More often than not, I end up parking in a lay by and philosophizing about this and that. Why am I here? Why am I here in Andover? Why am I with her and not her, or maybe I should be with her? What have I done? Am I really hungry? I ate only an hour ago. Maybe I should I drive back to the village shop and buy a mince an onion pie and a copy of Big Jugs? I spend a lot of time thinking, especially when I’m on the sofa where I have access to Internet and full satellite television coverage. It’s important in this philosophy game to keep up with what’s going on. For that I can rely on Sky News every night of the week, and the Avon Advertiser for the week’s court round up. In summer I move out to the garden and set up the office there, listen to the cricket. Biscuits help me think, so I go through quite a lot of those when I’m philosophizing. Chocolate ones are best. Booze is also a good lubricant to the process and when my matey Davie the traveler comes over, he always brings a jug of scrumpy and that really gets the old thinking cap on.

My mother has always called me a dreamer, so does Bernard, her new husband she married in the home, but whose laughing now eh mum? I’ve self published all my own books on philosophy, doing the odd book signing at libraries, car boot fairs or talks in pubs. Had a spot on hospital radio and a live phone in chat with Mike Rendell on Radio Solent last year. Had to wait till four in the morning for that one, but it was well worth it in the end. ‘V’ still gets lots of lingerie work, and also works nights at Tesco on Mondays and Sundays. So that brings in some cash between my book sales, but I tell you this philosophizing take it out of you! Sometimes I think it’s a curse and my Doctor agrees with me, but even those tribes I see on the Discovery Channel have their shamans, don’t they? They’re philosophers too in a way. Not all easy for them either, with evil spirits and mysterious puddles of chicken blood appearing outside the hut in the morning. With those fellas, when the guano hits the fan, they’re the ones who have to sort it out for the good of the village. Difference is, they don’t have Hampshire Constabulary and the Winchester County Council Law Courts threatening an eighteen-month sentence if they break their parole, do they? I know I should just keep to philosophizing and trying to think up clever ways to do this and that, but those bloody kids wind me up. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to clean off graffiti drawings of a cock and balls on my wheelie bin, and what do they do with all my underpants they steal from the washing line? It’s enough or any philosopher to cope with.

Following on my from last trilogy of books, ‘THE CONCEPT OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT FOR YOUNG OFFENDERS IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ENGLAND, VOLUMES I,II AND III’, I’m working on a new philosophy about vigilante justice and community heroes. I’ve nearly finished a rough first draft, but I’ve still have to plan some way of getting my own back and making me look good in the process. Of course their parents won’t be too excited by the prospect, but they can be as bad as their children. I think I’ll have the majority backing of the rest of the estate though. Like my other books, this new title will be available for purchase and as a forty-two-part newsletter for all my chosen neighbours in the close. It’s a lot a photocopying I admit; the trilogy was especially costly and although I split it up in to fifty parts, it was too much to get through some letter boxes in one go, so had to leave them outside some houses and many of those copies were stolen by the hoodies. At least they read I suppose, or maybe they use it for other things. Sometimes philosophy is not popular, especially in a market town. I’m sure the circle of philosophers employed by the government don’t have it easy either when they had to decide to go to war, or change the dates for village residential recycling pick ups. We’re not here to make friends, just steer our people in the direction as we see fit. Sure I’ve done some wrong things, right? And some right things wrong, even some downright wrong things right, but I’m not just a philosopher, I’m a man too, made of gristle and seventy percent water just like everyone else, and I swear if those little bastards spray ‘filosofize dis!’ down the side of my Nissan Micro again, I’m going to crack some heads and bugger the results, moral or not!”

EWL©