Congratulations! You have now entered your thirty third year of being a
On this auspicious occasion you will be awarded the grand prize of a cactus shaped hangover and all the vomit stink and stale tobacco smoke you can eat in a year!
But why aren’t you grown up yet? You know, when you’re 18 its fun, but in your 30s it’s just sad. It’s a problem. Problem? If it was a problem it would be harder to do.
I got news for you, ‘Jackson’:
It’s never been fun. Anyone who thought so was a fucking simpleton. An amateur.
This is a fucking coping mechanism, to soothe the sores of a hostile world that made the first move. This is a war and my body is an acceptable casualty.
A little boy stops my train of movement and hollow justifications by standing straight in front of me.
“Is that a badge?” he says.
I look down.
Yes. No. No idea.
“Uh yeah. Yeah, I spose it is”
“Can I have it?”
“It’s... Uh, It’s a present... from my dad. He’d be upset if he found out”
For a moment I think the kid understands. But instead he just flips his head back like a pez toy and shows me the gummy sweets he’s eating. They kind of held their shape. Cola bottles, I think.
His mum, nanny, whatever, idles round the corner with a little tot of a girl and spies me, then him, then me again but this time worse.
“Funny kid. You wanna watch out for this one, he’s gonna be a right little chancer”
She cuts her eyes at me and walks on with nothing but a sharp “ANTHONY”. The little kid waves and runs off after her. I watch them both walk away.
Cornetto. Hot day. Hangover. Perfect. For ten minutes I’m ten years old again.
Happy birthday to me.
33, eh? Wasn’t that when Christ died? I have to ask ‘cos I’ve got no use for the church since father O’Shaunessy look a shine to my downstairs and I took a match to the place. Borstal round 1.
Pint. Birthday pint. Montague it is.
One foot in the door and I can hear the fizz and almost taste it, washing away my hangover with a beautiful amber tide and pair of big luppers grab my collar, pulling at the buttons of my shirt and all I can hear is the wheeze of the bitter and fag ash breath leaving a film on my face.
“Where is he?” he’s shouting at me. Big fella, face to match the size of his hands. Short hair, nice coat. Face to match the pavement.
I feign dumb which aint exactly hard for me, but he’s shaking and shouting and isn’t giving me time to answer before he’s shouting again and I’m not scared, but my leg starts going like I’m in the school play, the involuntary cunt. “I aint seen him for a while” which is the truth, but the bit I miss out is the six months bird Malc’s doing in Brixton. I ask him fuck is it to him, but my jaw’s already half hanging off and the concrete has turned all gloopy and by the time I know which way to look he’s already fucked off.
I stagger through the front door to see old John with a packet of frozen peas over one eye. He gives me a stupid thumbs up which we both know is bullshit. I slump on the floor in front of the bar and reach around for some fags and try and light one, but John’s half-hearted protests fade against the white noise and everything goes a bit spotty.
Once I thought I was having a heart attack. For three years. A slow time-lapsed coronary failure. My chest was tight and I couldn’t breathe and my skin prickled and I felt like I was drifting sharply away on the rough edge of screaming nerves. It turned out that my problem wasn’t a heart attack; it was just called ‘being alive’.
6 hours in A and E watching still drunk Somalians with head injuries try and fight each other later and I’m getting told what I already know.
Here’s some elephant tranquilisers and all your meals through a straw.
Thank you very much.
Also, avoid alcohol at all costs. Won’t go well with the diclaficlafucking whatever shit they’ve given me.
Happy fucking birthday.
Wouldn’t go well with the concussion either.
Happy birthday to me.
Would that I had dropped acid last night, at least that would explain why my eyeballs are behind my eyeballs.
While I’m on the long wait for the discharge, I try and put my mind on anything I can. The fun old game of ‘what the fuck happened last night’ has become that much harder with my brain skipping every three seconds like a fucked CD.
We started in the Cheshire Cheese. Me, Stevie and Malc.
...in the Cheshire Cheese, and then...
We had three in there, and then...
...in the Cheshire Cheese.
And with good behaviour?
Trying not to stare at the shining brilliance of whiskey bottles in an offie window like a hungry baby at a tit, I shuffle along the Rye Lane with every aching muscle a dull whining noise at the back of my brain. Wonderful, awful chemicals.
Nothing better to do than have a nose round Malc’s old yard. Can’t drink. Can’t talk. Can’t sit still. Can’t do fuck all else but go for a walk. Nowhere to go to. So here I am. Staring at his front door, with his name still on the bell.
With his name still on the bell. Of the first floor flat.
My eyes are heavy and my hands are light when they undo the latch to the back garden and the sign of the first floor bathroom window being slightly ajar doesn’t strike me as good fortune, just something that was and was always going to be (such are the narratives that the heavily medicated use to make sense of the world).
One hand. Two hands. Left foot. Right. My weight and the groaning plastic pipe. Stagnant water, months old, seeps into the open cuts on my hands and its kiwi fruit and toothpaste somewhere a few pages back, the words just visible through cheap paper. The ghost of a description. I pull and I’m watching someone else’s efforts, someone else’s chalk white hands and groaning red face and I’m prying the window open with shaking digits that just look funny to me.
A reverse birth into the house and I’m head-first on the toilet floor.
The lights don’t work, but the water’s still on. Doesn’t look like the bathroom’s been used recently. Hygine wasn’t one of Malc’s top priorities, but even some use would have washed the dust away.
Wasn’t just the bulb in the bathroom, the one in the hall had gone too, or they were all out. I find my lighter in the end and I’m shuffling around cupboards trying not to burn my fingers or set the ironing board on fire.
I see the odd man out and flip the fuse up and the hall and the bathroom are alive. Hmm. Not cut off either.
Then it dawns on me, in a reverse of sane logic. Maybe it’s not cut off because someone’s living here. Fuck sakes, what am I doing?
Then I notice the stairs. The banisters, the shadows on the wall, like prison bars I think for a second. A light. Upstairs. Was it there all along? Did it come on with the fuse? Or just after?
Against any sense, I find myself floating towards the source like a twat of a moth straight into a candle, rather than heading away like the rest of the animal kingdom.
Heading straight to the door, framed by a whiskey shine.
No signs of recent life. A laptop charger on a desk. Marks in the dust where a laptop used to be. An a flyer for some night. Looks like a goth club or something.
Exquisite Agony IV
Friday, 27th of May
Veronica Written on the back, underlined three times.
Christ, looks a bit much, that does.
And then I’m thinking. There aint many Veronica’s round here, specially not ones that run in Malcs crowd or would let him sniff around hers.
There was one girl, bit Chinese looking. Thought she was called Viviane, but I can’t say I was ever really listening for her name. Too many stories got in the way. Heard she wields her cunt like a sword, that one. Dan said she worked in some bondage place. Couldn’t say either way. I’ve got enough agonies in my life without nipple clamps.
Looks like I’ve got a date. Better get tarted up, then.