Aside from my various medical ailments, my life has been pretty dull lately. I haven’t had a lot of excitement at work, which means I need to soon invent some new projects for myself to keep me from getting bored, and away from work, all I have been doing is reading. I can’t even exercise right now, which is making me really go crazy, because it also means that I don’t want to cook or eat food either.
So what do you do when your life has become completely routine and predictable? Well for starters, you can read books that take you to a more exciting world far removed from your own. That is precisely what I am doing. I have been reading White Mischief, by James Fox, which details the melodramatic, scandal-rich world of Kenya’s “Happy Valley” of the 1920s-30s. Although Karen Blixen is a contemporary of the era and setting, her Out of Africa world seems far removed from the debauched lifestyles of the expatriate British aristocrats and American heiresses who comprised the “Happy Valley set.” These people were amoral, drug-addicted scoundrels and blackguards. The book most specifically details the events and entanglements leading up to the murder of Jossyln Hay, the Earl of Errol in 1941, whose love of all women became his ruin.
Although, I have been fascinated to read about this moneyed set of people who had no other pursuits aside from those of pleasure and lived as selfishly as possible, I think I mostly find it fascinating because these people are so contemptible. It makes me a little bit angry to think of these privileged individuals who attended the best schools, had every means at their disposal, and lived in one of the most beautiful places imaginable, but who took all of that and squandered it all away on drink, drugs, waste, and general excessiveness. These people treated the Africans like dirt and fully deserved the be killed in greater numbers in the Mau Mau Rebellion, in my opinion. And their utter contemptability is what makes them such interesting historical characters also. (When I say that I think, oh no, does that mean that today’s socialite hacks will one day be interesting historical characters? I like to think no, because at least the 1920s versions of these people were at least well read, but I doubt that difference is material.)
Also, reading about other people who wasted away their privilege in selfish living is always a good lesson. It always causes some internal reflection that perhaps the reason why my life seems a bit to dull at times is because I have been to focused on my own selfish pursuits instead of doing anything worthwhile for anyone else.