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It was dangerous and yet felt safe. It was strange and yet familiar. It was mature and yet reckless. I was terrified and quite calm. I could have stayed. I should have stayed. I would never have stayed. To be honest, it was the comfort that scared me. It's not you, it's me. It's not me, it's you. It's not us, it's him. It's often anyone. It's never someone. It's always no one. I'm only a tourist here. I could never settle down in this place. I don't even speak the language properly. Shame, because the words are often beautiful.
I sit in Russell Square and watch a child chasing pigeons. What does this mean? Does this happen in nature? Do other animals chase smaller animals? Why do children do it? Children are basic and unapologising humans, pure and untainted by societal notions even. So what does this act say about people, about humanity? Why does the child do it? Is it power, one's will on another? Is it sadism, delighting in the panic it causes? Does it believe it's playing with the birds? I must have chased birds when I was a child. Why don't I chase them anymore?
My daily diet has become increasingly supermodelesque: Marlboro Light and Evian. I now dread going into work each morning so much that it causes physical discomfort. Getting out of bed's a Herculean task, seemingly more so than my darkest days of depression because I absolutely don't want to be there. I'm so unhappy, and I just can't see a way out. Every morning I look in the mirror at me in my belligerent effort at not wearing a suit and repeat my silent affirmations like a mantra as I leave.
I am not a professional. I am not a professional.
This isn't the kind of day to be indoors. The air's humid with the scent of summer, memories of childhood gardens, the first day of holidays spent lounging on rich tea-scented grass, exerting no effort beyond thought or breath. Memories too of Paris in late Spring, or that day on the heath by the lake. The sky's dizzy with memories of times when the future stretched far ahead in half-whispered promises of contentment and new adventures. This is no day for prostitution. This is the very sort of day I shouldn't have to pretend to be someone I can't stand.
London has turned blue overnight. Hardly surprising, what with the whole increasing trend for right wing governments worldwide and everyone hating Tony Blair so much in the UK. I had my own blue patch too, only marginally more metaphorical than wanting to scrap the NHS or pretend Europe doesn't exist. I'm just so tired, just so exhausted. Ha, just like New Labour. Just like any government leader who tries to cling on to power for too long. And has anyone noticed how the newly elected Conservative counsellor for the Palmers Green Ward of Enfield looks uncannily like my friend Hennery?
Last night I dreamt of a Tarot reading, the cards spread horizontally. I stopped when I came to the card 'Light'. Suddenly I didn't know what it meant: a picture of a lantern, high in the sky, casting its dim rays down over everything. I grew more and more agitated. What does this card mean? How could I just forget it? I became so flustered I had to abandon the reading. How could I go on whilst I felt so infuriatingly uncertain? It was only after I woke up I realised that there is no such Tarot card as 'Light'.
Sometimes I feel a bit out of the loop. Somehow I always end up not quite fitting in.
Why is it so that I've always been the one who must go?
Hearing their words and laughter reminds me one last time of New Year's at yours, a future so certain yet I sensed only its end. It's your birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday. I won't send a letter, just a short email. It'll be a sort of goodbye for me, though you'd never tell. I know even now you won't reply, and in a way I think that's a good thing.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1. Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1 over my overdraft limit. Why's it always Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1? Little One and I sat in the pub, trying to think of schemes or occult incantations to make our combined Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1.52 (I provided the 2p) afford two more pints. We soon admitted defeat and left to play 'Ready, Steady, Cook' with a courgette, peanuts and noodles. We chatted about Caliper Boy, and I copied Anarky's sketch into my notebook. I like it. Loneliness, spite, privation, loss, darkness, grit... all the things I love writing about. I walked home imagining demon urchins hunched in every corner, the full moon waxing above.
I started the day at six, woken by my flatmate, apparently lying in bed
to his alarm. For an hour. He then farted about the bathroom for 45 minutes, not only depriving me of much needed sleep, but facing being quite late for work. This he then topped by locking me in the flat. I ended the day by retrieving my washing, noticing a large black biro draining in the machine window that aforementioned flatmate had left there, assumedly accidentally from his own recent wash. Sometimes you wonder, in the face of such thoughtlessness, if you really still exist.
I've never been so despondent. The tiniest task takes all day, if I do it at all. I can't remember stinking so strongly of atrophy. This isn't me. This is not all I'm worth and not what I'll be remembered for, if at all. It's all about money. How vulgar. How pointless and ephemeral. How human. I sat in Tavistock Square talking to Romana, chain-smoking because each cigarette meant five minutes not "working" and looking at people around me. How do they do it? How do they just fit in like that? It's the closest I've come to envying them.
Breathing the same air just makes more carbon dioxide. Last night I forced myself back into it, picking at Chapter 6, but my heart just wasn't there. I felt dejected, like I'd never written anything worthwhile. And then I read my
stories: "The Lonely Tale of King Furciel", "La Fin Du Monde" and "Days Like Ice Cream". I loved them. Without remembering writing them they didn't read like mine. They were perfect, enough to keep going. Today I spent ten minutes writing a Caliper Boy scene for Little One. She loved it. That's enough to keep going too.
The world outside has that special inviting scent of waiting to go on holiday. And yet here I am, stuck in Bloomsbury.
Other places I'd like to be:
Reading Proust at a Parisian streetside cafÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©.
Chasing seagulls with Mr B on English Bay.
Enjoying a cigarette, coffee and a dusty hardback on my grandmother's balcony in Cairo.
Wandering down the Serpentine with an umbrella for no apparent reason.
Spending all day with Romana in the pub trying different beers.
Terrifying Mr Anderson on St Andrew's pier.
Writing, in my room, with a fresh pot of coffee and the windows open.
I only just finally got hold of mum on the phone after trying to talk to her all morning. Naturally, being a total neurotic, I'd leapt immediately to the most unlikely and horrific of conclusions when she didn't answer. You can thus understand my relief when I discovered that she had not been involved in a hideous car accident as I had hysterically feared, but was in fact out buying a B&Q bistro set and left her phone off. As a result I'm not sure which of us is the bigger gay man. "Dear Charing Cross A&E, imagine my surprise..."
I met Little One in the pub for a hastily rescheduled Caliper Boy meeting. After K arrived we sat with Rizlas stuck to our foreheads asking questions like "am I American?" or "am I dead?" Turns out I was The Doctor. Who'd have thought? Dolly Parton just stared bewildered at Ricky Gervais. Then it hit me. I'm in the pub, again, not writing, flat broke, and now with someone else's name on my forehead, feeling there's nowhere else to go, not wanting to be that person at work and not feeling at home at home.
Is this how alcoholism starts?
So, how do you know when you're an alcoholic? When you've not had a drink in only 18 hours and already you're climbing the walls? When your kidneys ache and your body is saying no more, and yet more is all you want? Sod it. one quick phone call to the Lemon and there I was, his sofa, in front of Doctor Who, two bottles of red bought so quickly I'd barely given the label a quick glance. Again, I was meant to be writing chapter 6, as ever. Is alcoholism the new procrastination? Will I ever finish this novel?
It's true what everyone says. Credit cards
dangerous. I seem to be putting everything on it at the moment, though to be fair on myself I don't have much choice: my bank account's dryer than a budgie's tit. Still, it's an odd idea that I could just get up and buy any of the various things I've longed for over the past year, such as a new laptop or a return trip to Vancouver. Actually, that's pretty much it. The only financial desires I have are extravagant, so I don't have to work and can spend all day writing.
Marlboro reds. They ain't big or clever. Next time the machine's out of Lights reconsider your future rather than opt for blood. All men have a self-destructive element, gay men doubly so. Perhaps this is why so many smoke. Considering I feel like I've swallowed a cheese grater I'm inclined to believe it. Oh for being a good little Wiccan who knew the true meaning of happy hedgewitchery. No more fertility cult for me. No more natural fibres and organic veg. This is Chaos Magician Without A Cause. You don't take me home to meet your Earth Mother. *Cough* *Hack*
We've a temp in. Steve. A playwright. He's attended the Royal Court and Soho Theatre's young writer programmes. He works at the Lyric in the evenings. Regard the state that I am in where I envy my daily juniors who earn more than me of what I perceive as valuable. It seems to be getting increasingly harder to stay here. A friend from an associate organisation is leaving. Happiness radiates from his every email now. He gave me the best advice I've heard in ages: "Keep looking at the door, eventually you will just get up and walk through it."
I think I've made a big mistake. Opportunity came knocking, and just at the last minute as I was due to leave the proverbial house. For some reason I pretended not to be in. I just sat there and watched it come and go. Will it come back do you think? Steve thinks so. Barbara gave me that disappointed look that mothers give their kids when they fuck up. Why must it all always boil down to a black and white choice - fortune or fame? Life or death? Why does everything always have to be so upsettingly claustrophobically human?
I have to calm down on the drinking, I really do. I'm getting too old for this. I can't carry on when I'm tired and it makes me irritable, sickly and uncomfortable. I will not, and no amount of blonde Yorkshire pouting will make me. I jest of course, but I've never understood your irritation with me when I've reached my recognised limits. It's true what they're saying: the two of us living together could become the retirement home old drunks will go to to die. But how would you react if you knew I was considering giving up altogether?
I think I want to be a kitten. Everyone who meets you instantly loves you, anyone who wants to play with you, pick you up or cuddle you, will. You can find contentment in a ball of string, purpose in a crumpled receipt or even a playmate in your own tail. At night there's plenty of people to curl up and purr loudly on, who'll gently scratch your scalp as you doze. Your only dreams are food, play and sleep, and not one of them goes unfulfilled. Surely crapping in a plastic tray in public is pennies for all that?
This is what I've been waiting for. A Monday morning on a park bench, watching people in suits and overcoats walking past on their way to work. And me, not. They don't notice me. For them, I don't exist. This isn't even my town. I don't know the streets, their smells and shortcuts. But that makes it even better. Here I am, as far away from work as I could be, with nothing here to remind me of that life I've already almost forgotten. Today the whole day's my own. I am wasting nothing, sitting here on this park bench.
Today I removed all the used tickets from my wallet. Adventures going back almost three years: train tickets to Newport, Devon and Cambridge; tram passes from The Hague or Geneva; sky-train tickets and bus stubs from Vancouver; countless underground tickets from London, Paris and Madrid. Some have memories, some are just pieces of paper. Nestled between two was a passport photo I'd forgotten I still carried with me. I scooped them all out and into a wooden box, my tiny little coffin of memories to dig up again whenever I choose. Amazing how much lighter my wallet feels without them.
I'm not feeling terribly insightful today. I have a cold: nothing in my head but warm goo and dull aches. Looking back over recent entries in the past month I'm quite disturbed by how bland I've become: "I woke up. I did this. I went there. Then this happened. [Cute witty concluding quip.]" Today I was going to quote a hymn to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva/Kuan Yin because it quite lyrically summed up my desire to be less judgemental and more compassionate, but I thought that was just plagiarism rather than original blandness. Sometimes I'm glad I can only write 100 words.
"Would you like some tea?"
"Do you have any coffee?"
"Let me check... Oh. No, sorry."
"Ah, don't worry then."
"Yes, it's fine."
"Um... how was your trip back?"
"Fine. You know. A bit dull really."
"A bit dull? How funny!"
"I know! You'd have thought it'd be more epic!"
"So how long's it been?"
"Yes. You died one year ago today."
"Wow. It all goes so quickly."
"What've I missed?"
"Us missing you, mostly."
"Don't be a stranger," was the last thing you said to me.
Running for cover, I waited under a shop's eaves with a woman who shouldn't be allowed umbrellas. What is it about slow-moving, space-taking people with brollies that's so quintessentially human? "
I'm all right, I don't need to consider anyone who may not be.
" I gave up wasting time sharing the meagre warmth and pressed on through the torrents, the world crashing down around me in a maelstrom of splashing greys. Like Caligula's defiance of Neptune I marched unshielded through the assault in mad hubris. It felt calming. I felt like the only calm thing left in a world going mad.
You have the potential for great failure. In actively avoiding living the model of a human life, you've become so so likely to fall far beneath it. You hate your dead-end job. You've no lover, nor anyone who could be. You're lazy. You alientate friends with your arrogant readiness to be angered by their mortality, or impatience when they misunderstand. You live only for yourself, and the arbitrary goals and standards you set but lack the motivation to see through to their end. There are no great mysteries here, merely a slowly unfolding canvas revealing a dull and dismal scene.
What have I done? What have I done?! She was beautiful, so beautiful. All curves and smooth white skin. I just couldn't say no. And not just beautiful - intelligent, intuitive, quick and fun, with enough stamina to keep going all night. And so willing to please. My current relationship's lasted five years. We've been through so much together. I just can't believe how little time it took for me to chuck her like this. Time moves on, better things come our way. And we can never say no. Apple know how to make money out of boys like me.
Objects in the rear view mirror appear thicker with mullets. Masturbation's a sin. Masturbate twice a day. Don't eat fast food. Or just eat it slowly for the same lifespan as if you hadn't. Vote BNP if you think Britain's still an empire. Vote Lib Dem if you haven't got a clue (they don't either). Hate your job. Love your bum. Stare in confusion at charity muggers. Pity the Pope. Love like you don't need the money, work like no one can see you and dance like you've never been hurt. Always drink coffee black. Have fries with that. Breathe.
If I stare at the screen for long enough will the day disappear? That's a nice noise your palm pilot made. Make it make that noise again. If I think about boys for too long will I turn completely asexual?
All I want to do, is to spend some time with you...
I couldn't inseminate a female and make her go all round! What would the neighbours say?! I'm reading about Jeffrey Dahmer. Sometimes I feel like my eyes are turning blue. This makes me giggle.
...So I can hold you, hold you.
And how does an egg range freely?
Promises are made to be broken. An ethic is there to grow corrupt. Fear and guilt are there to be overcome, but health is there to fade. Change is bound by routine but only change can break the chains. It's easier to watch an earthquake's aftermath than to send money. It makes sense to put a class system on the internet if you're the mill owner who can afford it. Institutionalisation just takes a bad idea and makes everyone else swallow it until it becomes routine. You can either go in circles, or go sideways. You can never go back.
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