Sunday, 24 June 2012

18. Industriously chewing her purple squeaky bone

When one looks back, it's hard to decide where a particular sequence of events starts. Life rolls on. One time and place and set of people shades, sometimes imperceptibly, into another. One moment you are seven and losing your favourite marble down the drain in the school playground. The next you are 33 and standing drunk and bleeding under the departures board at Liverpool Street Station, contemplating which train would be best to end your life under. Having lost some entirely different marbles.

(Obviously, I didn't commit suicide. Otherwise this would be a very different blog, I would have many interesting things to report, and I would probably be gaining significant media attention.)

I am half-awake, lying in a nest of dirty sheets on Amanda's sofa. Her Highland terrier Buffy is in the room with me. I can't see her, but I can smell small dog, and I can hear her industriously chewing her purple squeaky bone somewhere near my feet. It sounds a bit like someone blowing up an air mattress, or a couple having vigorous sex on a very old bed.

Amanda is in the kitchen playing Velcro Fly by ZZ Top (Amanda, like me, dates to pre-Nirvana. We both spent our early teenage years listening to GnR, Poison, Alice Cooper, Jovi, AC/DC, Quiet Riot - any band where men were men, hair was huge, and trousers were tight. I pretend I don't still love it. She, on the other hand, is utterly unashamed)

I can hear her singing along. "You need just enough of that sticky stuff, to hold the seam on your fine blue jeans...." Amanda loves to sing, but the truth is she really can't.

I am not thinking about anything very much. The way time passes, maybe. It feels like yesterday I was standing under that board. I can feel the blood running down my arms, I had been cutting myself. I can feel the beer can in my hand. I see the station security staff gathering. I remember - I remember -

Tyler Durden said: "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." I like this. You don't really know who you are or what you are capable of until you hit bottom. That's when you find out. When you find out if you are going to throw yourself under a train, or if you are going to come back up fighting. Whatever else happens I know that about myself - when I hit bottom, I bounce right back up and start throwing punches. That's my instinctive response.

I remember the moment I put the beer can carefully in the bin and walked away. The moment I chose to live.

Velcro Fly finishes and is followed by Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi. I loved this when I was 14. I still - slightly more circumspectly - love it now.

I lie back and listen.

First you need
(that’s what you get for falling in love)
Then you bleed
(you get a little and it’s never enough)
And then you’re on your knees
(that’s what you get for falling in love)

I remember being in love. I would far rather never feel anything again than feel that dreadful need, that addiction to someone’s presence, the way one person’s opinion of you has the power to crack your world in half. I never again want my emotions burnt to the ground by the cold eyes of someone I love with all my heart.

I reach out. I sleepily roll a spliff. I stick it through a hole in the sheet, light it, and inhale.

Amanda pokes her head round the door. "I thought I could smell weed," she says. She has made me a cup of tea. I offer the spliff to her and she sits on the end of the sofa and smokes.

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