Two Brains Good, One Brain Better

I’m guessing that many of you may well know the specific point: you are drunk enough to slur slightly, but still sober enough to realise you are doing it.  (For those of you who do not understand this sensation, imagine walking a tightrope: you know that you are leaning slightly to the left but, for some unfathomable reason, your brain compensates by pushing you further to the left.  You know that this will take you over, but what the heck; what’s the worst that could happen?)  This is the moment when the sober cortex knows that you are about to say something incredibly indiscreet and drunken cortex says, “What the hell, everybody knows it anyhow.”

It is only when you have trodden this path a thousand times that you begin to realise that no matter how drunk you get, one tiny part of your brain remains sober, annoying the heck out of the rest of you.  It takes notes: when you tread profiterole into the mushroom shagpile and blame the grandkids, it tuts gently in your ear and advises you that the only reasonable thing to do is to scrub it with bleach because, here’s the thing about sober brain, all it ever really wants to do is to find the hole that drunken brain is digging and deepen it.  Whatever idiotic scheme your inebriated brain can concoct, sober brain will encourage it because it knows that, in the morning, whatever you have done, drunken you will take the blame – even though it was really sober you that put the blueberries in the knicker drawer in the first place.

Sober brain believes that this is the only way to keep a rein on drunken brain: let it get on with whatever it is that it does, exacerbating the fallout if at all possible, so that come the morning light, hung-over brain might wake up to consider its own shrivelled potential, the consequence of its actions and who to contact in order to get the guacamole chiselled off the cat.  In short, non-dependent brain wants the majority share-holder to feel the pain in order that it might remember not to do whatever it was it was doing, the next time it is offered the opportunity to do it.  It will not.

Now, I don’t want you to think that this has occurred to me because I am, as it were, living the moment.  I am not writing this whilst under the influence – at least not of alcohol.  Every time I sit down to write, I do so under the influence of something.  I always have something on my mind that I have to get off it and, however bonkers that something is, part of my brain is very keen for the other half to get it off.  It occurs to me that no brain is ever 100% convinced about anything.  There is never a time when every single synapse is as one, never a time when at least one of them is not standing at the back yelling “Now just hang on one minute”.

I can’t help but wonder if each human being does not actually have two brains*.  I Googled it and glory be, some scientists claim that we do, but that the other one is in the stomach, which probably explains everything you ever needed to know about six year old boys.  In the end, I decided to discount the theory because I got confused with the idea of my head having philosophical discussions with my small intestine over the essence of humankind:
“So, what is it, to be human?”
“Have you got any biscuits?”
“Is it companionship?  Family?  Is art essential to human fulfilment: I think, therefore I am?”
“Cake maybe, or a sandwich would be good…”
I think it is highly likely that men do have two brains, but those looking for the second one in the digestive tract are setting their sights far too high.  Also, they should realise that the second brain we do have is stupid and responsible for most of the bad decisions we will ever take.  Personally, as a man who is permanently confused whilst having access to only one centre of rational thought, I could not countenance the possibility of having two, but I must accept that the brain I do have is essentially split into two halves (I’ve seen the pictures.  How can something that looks so much like a pickled walnut be in charge of my entire rational ‘self’?) although it is hard for me to understand why they can never agree.

Each brain is a democracy.  Each decision is taken on a majority vote.  Every conclusion is opposed by at least part of the legislature.  Every brain is The Labour Party**.  Every brain wants to do better for everybody else, until they realise that that means doing less well for themselves.  My own cranium contains what is far too often a hung-parliament: regardless of how many resources I pour in to it, no decision is ever taken that does not involve reappraising whatever decisions I may have taken in the past, whatever the circumstances.  My brain is Italy, and only a dictator could get the trains running on time.

Life is constructed of decisions, although if you are a married man, you will know that they are usually taken by somebody else.  My own life consists of Pros and Cons, and Pros of Cons and Cons of Pros.  No decision is ever taken before I have programmed in every conceivable variable; analysed*** every single pitfall, assassinated every possible benefit – and then it is invariably wrong.  I spend my entire life dangling from the horns of some dilemma or another: what to wear, what to say, what to eat, what to drink – whisky, gin, tea, coffee, orange squash.  Today, as most days, I have settled on squash, but I can’t help but thinking how much clearer everything would be if I just succumbed to the lure of a little whisky – purely to give half my brain the edge, you understand…

*Steve Martin’s ‘The Man with Two Brains’ was one of the first films I ever remember watching twice in order to catch up on some of the gags I realised that I was too stupid to catch the first time through.

**The Labour Party always claims to be a broad church, which means, like all political parties, it is filled by people arguing with everybody else about everything upon which they are all agreed.

***No surprise that the base of ‘analyse’ is ‘anal’.

8 thoughts on “Two Brains Good, One Brain Better

  1. I tried for years at school not to use my brain, which is evident from the pile of school reports recently unearthed by my aged mother. In fact, I’m sure that parts of my brain stopped maturing after the age of seven. Mrs Underfelt is constantly reminding me that I still act like a small child who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’, even when repeated in a louder voice, several times! I find that poking my wife’s backside every time she bends down in front of me absolutely hilarious. Also making a farting sound with my mouth if her nether parts are out of reach. She of course finds this a little tiresome, especially when she is stretching to retrieve something from one of the freezer cabinets in Morrison’s.

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