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Yesterday was filled with the happy decadence of a day technically "wasted-. No great things were achieved, no household chores performed, human knowledge was not significantly advanced by my actions. There was, however, a fair amount of wine consumed (also beer), and a great deal of food eaten. There was brisk walking, there was conversation, there was fine company.
And always, the payoff, the slump after the pleasure. The conscious mind says, "what a lovely day-, while the creature on my shoulder tries to tell me I must have been boring and annoying. Thank goodness for the Summer CD.
Bank Holiday: Colloquial term for a public holiday in the United Kingdom. First introduced into British Law by Sir John Lubbock in the 1871
Bank Holiday Act
Bank Holiday: A day filled with promise and possibility, redolent with the heady aroma of time to be spent well, plans to be made, and things to be achieved.
Bank Holiday: Traditionally, a day when, no matter how good the weather's been recently, it will inevitably rain.
Bank Holiday: The epitome of idleness. The greater the initial optimism for the day, the greater the degree of indolence ultimately indulged in.
Layers, subtleties, sudden unexpected joys and insights. Here a surface optimism carrying a tang of bittersweetness. There a lyric, at once a little dark, that suddenly sparks a smile of recognition, of things said and times shared. Occasionally a song that is, simply and unashamedly, fun. The whole thing as summery as one could wish, but as full of depths to find as a well-penned letter. The soundtrack to a life, maybe, or more accurately, a soundtrack to a friendship. It demands a response in kind, but this exceeds me: My talents lie not here. I must find something else.
So they published your letter! Bless you for writing it - I was very touched. So too, was Nicola. I haven't mentioned it to Ian yet, but I'll take the cutting along with me to next week's rehearsal. I haven't decided yet whether I'll show them the rebuttal by Ms. Sanctimonious Bitch - it's a bit insulting to Ian, and he deserves better. I think it'll do everybody good to see your comments though: Quite right too - it is indeed the audience that matters, and the words of one deaf, uncharitable, old trout, do not turn two fine performances into bad ones.
That's about the closest I think I've ever come, as an adult, to having actual violence done upon me. Drivers get angry sometimes, of course - we all do, on occasion, but I've never seen somebody explode quite like that. The disagreement was very minor - the sort of thing that happens all the time, everywhere, but the effect was disproportionately huge: Abuse was shouted, no, not shouted,
, one phrase over and over; a piece of something like electrical cable produced from his car and brandished, whip-like; blind, angry, dogged pursuit. Took me a couple of hours to stop shaking completely.
It's odd: Even now that the play's well behind me, my usual passion for all things theatrical still seems to be absent. There's always a lull, of course, after a play, especially when I've directed, but it seems deeper, and more profound than usual, this time. It may just be selective memory, of course, or it may be as a result of
review, but I seem robbed of all enthusiasm. Nicola seems to have gained a new energy from the performance; I seem to have poured mine down the toilet. Perhaps this really is the year of new starts.
Once again, I didn't shoot. I could have - I'd sort of planned to, and I'd certainly told Mike that I'd try to be there this week, but in the event, there was no real desire to do it. I had far too much to do anyway, I didn't have much in the way of clean clothes for outdoor shooting, and I hadn't really checked my archery gear for months... Correct, these are excuses. I'm scared of showing up, because, having not been for months, there'll be a lot of new members I won't know, and I'll feel self-conscious. Silly sod.
I was going to park in the usual place, but a man told me it was closed, so I had to leave my sack barrow in a public car park. You hadn't arrived, so I telephoned. You told me you'd decided not to come after all. I shouted something at you angrily, and ended the call. Upset, cross, betrayed, annoyed at myself for losing my temper, I wept. Even an hour or two after waking up, even knowing it hadn't really happened, there was that dreadful dead feeling of having fallen out with a friend. I wondered if you'd died.
Three days of work left, and then a glorious long weekend of Welsh camping. Three days. I have the nasty suspicion that the best way to speed them along, is to work hard. It rather goes against the grain though: I care nothing for this company now. I don't even particularly care about the systems I've painstakingly set up over the last several years, and which I've made my own. Somewhere, just out of reach, there's supposed to be that day when I hand Tim that letter, and walk out of the door. It
just out of reach, however.
So I've peaked too soon. The yearning for Welsh wilderness and campfire bonhomie has become almost unbearable, and I still have today and tomorrow to pick my way through. It was a mistake to start browsing through all my holiday photographs from the past year. Funny, of the people that have grown into our vague Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœgang' of friends, I only really knew Mike at all well a year ago, Jon a little, David and Dan not at all. Since then, we've all had several lovely holidays together, and David's become one of my closest friends. Life probably
It's ridiculous how fragile my moods are. One email, and the whole of yesterday morning's brightness disappeared into a dark, tear-stained pit. My "I-will-not-cry-at-my-desk"resolve succeeded reasonably well, I suppose, though it was a close thing. Today I must try to lift myself back up again, else the weekend's holiday will be a lonely affair: I can feel the little demons climbing to my shoulder already, preparing me for "the inevitable"disappointments and jealousies. Put yesterday behind you, John, look forward to tomorrow's drive, which should be enjoyable in itself, and above all, try not to worry. It's only life.
Shell Island. In spite of the horrible weather it's thrown at us over the years, and the sadnesses experienced here, I love the place. I must come here alone sometime, or, if I should be so fortunate, in the company of a likeminded person. For contemplation. For sitting on a dune, on the beach, in the hills, in a secluded hollow, for the mere pleasure of simply sitting there, smelling the smells, watching the tiny wild violets growing, the busy creatures of the sand and the shrub, bustling about their work. I could happily do this for days on end.
There are few things to compare with the awful sinking feeling of waking up in a tent on a glorious morning, and hearing, from the tent next door (occupied by someone you're impossibly fond of), the subtle but unmistakeable sounds of two people enjoying each others company. Try as you might, you can't avoid hearing it. You try not to listen, but each soft giggle, each sound of gentle movement, pierces your heart like a jagged blade.
Walk away, immerse yourself in the beauty of the island, pretend that's enough, pretend that affection and intimacy aren't things you need.
D & C make a nice couple.
I hate to think it, much less write it down, but there's no denying that they do. C is a delightful chap, friendly with everyone, without being intrusive; witty, laughs at everybody's jokes; and clearly very taken with D.
There's a suggestion he might come to the Lakes with us next month. He'd fit in very well, but oh the things that's going to do to my head and my heart. Unrequited feelings are
bearable, when the object of my affections isn't involved with someone else... damn you, green-eyed monster.
The day is filled with tears. The tears of the sky, drenching us in our efforts to strike camp. The tears of M, confused and sad over pasts and possible futures. The almost tears of D, trying to console him, and trying not to get upset himself. My own, unrealised tears, for failing to be the friend that was needed; for my impossible desire for affection and closeness from D, and the lingering jealousy over D & C; for my mild irritation at J, and my peculiar mix of dreads, at the diluting of our little band with new friends.
Post-holiday blues, feeling slowly, but slowly, more fond of
all over again, while still feeling like my soul is tied up with
Back-to-work blues, feeling rapidly, oh so rapidly, that I belong here less with each passing day.
Knowing that what I really need, is a quiet week to myself, where I can let my thoughts flow where they need to, uninterrupted. Knowing that the week I'm about to have will be as unlike that as it's possible to be.
Everything in my life involves waiting for things I can do nothing to accelerate.
Will crying about it change anything? No. Not in the slightest. I'll still be this solitary man, this, "nice company, but I wouldn't want to sleep with him-, friend-to-all, lover-to-none, amiable but rather dull man, who laughs too loud when drunk, who falls hopelessly in love with friends he can never tell, for whom he'd do anything, anything at all, but to whom he's just a friend. "Oh but friends are better than lovers anyway-. Are they? How nice for you to be able to actually make that comparison. I wish I could. Bitter? Me? Yes. I still cry anyway.
It was twenty years or so hence, though I myself seemed not to have aged (not that I feel any different now, to how I did at 26, so that's no guide). Twenty years in which, it seemed, we had neither met, nor spoken. I don't know why. You looked much the same - the same smile, same eyes, but a little grey scattering, an extra line or two. I awoke too soon, before we could talk, but I remembered the shine in your eyes that told me you'd broken your shackles and grasped the success that was always rightfully yours.
Pain. Pain such as I haven't known for ages. I didn't even drink that much, I thought, no more than a bottle and a half, yet I remember a lot of staggering, and my first post-alcoholic bathroom incident for several years. Maybe my liver's finally gone on strike.
On further discussion with my host, it appears to have been more like two bottles - and of course, I'd forgotten to eat properly.
Still, a day at home to get the car serviced - although rushing up and down stairs lugging all the camping gear, with a thumping head, was... interesting.
"John gives good advice-, you said. I think it untrue, but I'm flattered that you should think so, all the same. I'd say, in return, "David gives good company-.
Clapham seems lovely. It was the first time I'd ever really looked at it in detail, but I do rather like it - even in the pouring rain. Thanks for inviting me along, it made for a fun day. I've no doubt at all that London will suit you, and you it - in many ways you're already more at home here than I, for I never was one for fitting in.
I have taken to heart your exhortation to "watch more Buffy-, and have spent the entire day doing just that. Your kindly-lent copy of Season Five has fallen before my avid watching. I should have been at my archery club, but again I baulked at the idea. Soon, I think, I'll have to make a choice: Force myself to turn up again, or leave the club. This guilty, belonging-but-not-taking-part, is starting to be a bit of a neurosis, and must be dealt with one way or the other. For now, though, my sanity is preserved by the denizens of Sunnydale.
It's like having a snake in my stomach. A constant awareness of something "not right-, a whole raft of thoughts best left unconsidered for the moment, lest they rouse the worm, and it twists and frets and bites in the coils of my gut. It's never truly still, it never lets me forget its presence, but it can be charmed, kept in its place by my mind's music, the
pipe of my awareness deftly consigning it to its basket.
Sometimes, though, I'm careless, and the serpent sinks its fangs into my psyche. Poisons flow, and there is agony.
I'm turning inward. I can feel it. It's happened before, and I recognise the symptoms. I skipped rehearsals this evening. Simply couldn't deal with the enthusiasm, when I feel none myself. There's no passion in it, no life, it's just a daft murder mystery play. It'll be fun to do of course - it always is, but at the moment I only know that as an abstract, I don't feel any particular desire to perform it, nor would I care, right now, if the entire drama group just folded. I'd care later, of course. At least, I hope that I would.
What am I? Inadequate as a friend, unwanted (or unwantable) as a lover, at best a mediocre actor and director. Not particularly attractive nor possessing an interesting personality. I can bullshit, apparently - the fact that I still have my job is testament to that, but it's hardly a laudable skill. I am the man with whom nobody flirts, in case I take them seriously. I am he, who, when somebody was asked if I was their lover, heard them reply "NO!"in tones of indignation and astonished alarm. My reaction would have been more along the lines of "I wish-.
Pragmatism, John. Even if what you fear proves to be true, what can you do about it? Any attempt to confront it would undoubtedly make it worse. Be yourself, continue as you are, try not to worry. It's not the first time it's happened, after all, and it's sorted itself out previously... so before running to try to force something, wait. Be patient. Life brings new wonders with every day. Relax, if you can, turn your focus to the approaching holiday. Oh yes, and don't hesitate to shower yourself with platitudinous advice.
Live your uneasy truce with the serpent.
It's becoming clearer all the time that I'm going to have to leave the Artisans sometime moderately soon. Our views have been diverging for a while now, our tastes and approaches to things, too. Before long, that's going to end up as an antagonism between us. We two are the dominant people in the group, and such a difference of opinion would surely destroy it. Last night convinced me. Our aims are different, I want to work with people who will commit themselves utterly to the play they're working on. The Artisans hasn't been like that for a long time.
I do wonder, sometimes, what my friends would make of me, if, by some accident, they were to see me like this. Would they assume that some great calamity had befallen me? Would they think I was afflicted by some sudden bad news, a death in the family, an awful and appalling change of circumstances? Is there any chance at all that they'd think that this is my normal state, most evenings? Probably not, yet such it is. Cheerful, amiable John... is a myth, a front, for the world.. An act. Maybe I'm not such a bad actor after all.
Walking is good. I like walking. My feet like it less. Comfortable though these trainers are, they're not really very good for prolonged trudging - I've acquired a couple of very fine blisters, and my achilles tendons are both quite sore. Next time I'll revert to my walking boots. Not in themselves the most comfortable of footwear (they were cheap), but they're a lot more sturdy, and thus likely to delay the arrival of blisters somewhat. It was a jolly pleasant day for walking, though I seem to have sunburned the top of my head a little. Very silly of me.
So. Sex, then. Very nice. Thank you. Ego suitably boosted, urges temporarily silenced.
It's still true though: Trying to make friends with someone I've been intimate with, feels less natural than wanting intimacy with someone I'm already friendly with. Not that I know whether you're going to want to make friends of course - welcome though that would be, for you're a nice chap. Good-looking men who find me attractive are rarer than hen's teeth, and ones that are willing to enjoy actual conversation, rarer still. However, breath not being held, correct cart and horse order of precedence being maintained.
An odd feeling of limbo this morning, as though life has briefly paused between two ages. I know, of course, that in a few minutes, my colleagues will arrive, thronging loudly in, full of all the trivia, the nonsenses they feel are important, and that I will play my part, feigning interest, laughing along, oiling the wheels of the day's encounters with banter. Yet it feels as though something great, something momentous, perhaps something wonderful, is waiting in the wings, checking its lines, gathering itself to spring on to the stage of my life. Of course, it could be indigestion.
An inversion of expected irritations. I left home early, to ensure trouble-free traffic, expecting a day of problems and hassle, at the hands of a complete network change being foisted upon us by our IT department.
In the event, the traffic was
- idiots, holidaymakers, general stupidity, and a broken-down lorry in the narrowest part of the M25 roadworks... on arriving at work, I found an email of surpassingly conciliatory tone from the IT people. Am quite relieved. I still expect calamity and disaster, but at least I've ended up in a rather more mellow mood than anticipated!
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