And Alex Said... Decisions

7 October 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions. What should I have for dinner? Which pub do I want to go to? What should I write a blog post about? Babies and dogs have it much easier. They don’t need to make any decisions at all. They eat what they’re given, and they wear nappies. (Yes, you can buy nappies for dogs. Changing a baby’s nappy is bad enough, but how can you keep your lunch down while staring at the matted, shitty hair around an incontinent dog’s arse?)

Gordon Brown knows a thing or two about difficult decisions. He had to decide this week whether or not to call an early general election. He was buggered either way - he had to choose between being a cynical bastard or a cowardly bastard - but the main fuck-up was the weeks of dithering. It was a big decision, but then politics isn’t the career choice for the terminally indecisive. That’s why I’ve never been tempted - it can take me weeks just to choose a new pair of trainers.

Some decisions aren’t really decisions that you ever have to consciously make. You may think you have chosen the religion you believe in, but the chances are you’ve never actually weighed up all the options. There’s just too much to consider - do you dislike bacon? What about your foreskin? Would a turban suit you? Fancy carrying a sword around all the time? How seriously do you consider the threat of eternal damnation? It’s no wonder nobody can come to a consensus.

If you follow football, how did you choose which football team to support? There are over 7,000 teams in the UK, so on what basis do you choose who you want to win? How much does a season ticket cost? Does the colour of their replica kit suit you?

Of course, these questions are ridiculous, because most people never really choose a religion or football team for themselves. Instead, they’re indoctrinated by their parents, and even if they later come to the realisation that Christianity/Islam/Manchester United is all a load of bollocks, it’s too painful to change - for one thing, they’d have to think of something different to do on Sunday mornings/Saturday afternoons.

Sexuality isn’t really a decision either. Nobody sits down umming and aahing the pros and cons of being gay over a copy of “What Sexuality?” magazine. ”This month, orificies - tried and tested. Which one is right for you? And read our exclusive review of homosexuality - why not give it a go?”

Careers are something that should be decided upon, but are often stumbled into. You just kind of carry on doing what you’ve been good at since you were a child. In my case, a small decision to start playing around with an Acorn Electron when I was 8 years old culminated in me programming computers for a living. In that way, it was much much easier for me to choose a career in IT than it is for me to choose what I want in Pizza Express.

It is often the smallest decisions which are actually the hardest, then. If the big decisions of religion and career and sexuality just happen automatically, the small decisions like what shoes to buy and what to have for lunch are often the toughest. For religion and football I happily settled on the “none of the above” options within seconds, and yet I can spend most of my lunch hour choosing a sandwich in Sainsbury’s.