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Rush-hour in London I passed a man on the stairs. His eyes closed as I walked on past. I realised he had given up climbing. He was waiting for the top to come down to him: to fall a little way, erode and slide to where he kept his vigil. He felt, justifiably, that he'd done enough. He'd walked as much as any man might reasonably be asked. He had taken his final step - not up but to one side. And as he stood there watching the other fools chase their tails up and down the staircase, he smiled.
'There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.' I take comfort in this thought. I've long believed that the pleasure was to be had in the journey and not necessarily in reaching your destination. Where do you go when you reach your goal? I suppose you must find a new one. I've been ambling for a few weeks now: meandering along and taking in the view. I'm still waiting on news that will affect my journey but it's time to plan something new. The next challenge. New house. New job. But first a holiday. Still time to amble I guess.
Budget airlines: my muse today. 'Cabin crew, ready for take-off.' They should just be honest: 'No, we can't be arsed thank you. We've traversed the planet all day at 30'000 feet and if we have to smile at one more member of the public we'll jump!' Plush carpets, velvet curtains, deep leather seats... removed. Leaving a flat-pack kitchen with wings. What's that enchanting aroma dancing through cabin? Of course, the morbidly obese mother of eight has just released little Asbo from the toilet. Her firey English 'base tan' shouting obscenities from underneath her strappy two-piece top. Three hours left.
Some nights I really don't feel like sharing. On others I get hooked on one idea and it spins around my head like a mantra. Eternity usually. I love wrestling with concepts of time - Inevitably I get scared and force these ideas to some 'penny-farthing hell' in my mind. Replace it with a dream, an ambition, just maybe a girl. Usually a girl. The girl morphs into a shark swimming breast-stroke and I'm asleep. Yet I know he's sitting there, at the back somewhere, smoothing his hair and counting the walls - My eternity question. Tomorrow we'll wrestle again.
I've been making mental notes all day - observations to write down. Now faced with pen and paper I can't remember a single one. Perhaps they weren't important? They were, I just can't remember them. Conversations are full of automatic responses: the, 'Yes, I know,' and, 'Really? No?' Not deplorable, usually perfectly necessary but empty all the same. 'Any regrets?' They'll toss their heads coyly and deliver that sugared smile telling you they regret nothing - their past mistakes have shaped who they are today. Not even a pause to consider a more positive alternative present. Aim high, regret more!
I haven't slept well for the last few nights. It's hot and the bed is soft. I'm in Bulgaria for the week. Every morning I see this elderly lady washing in her garden. She has these beautifully gnarled features - weathered and torn like an old oak tree. She travels around the village by horse and cart with her shopping bouncing along in the back, apparently oblivious to the massive changes going on around her. Apartments and houses emerge across the road with Brits and Germans footing the bill. 4km away there's a McDonald's. I wonder how well she sleeps.
I love thunderstorms. Watching flash-lightening turn the sky purple and green. Forks of electricity tearing through the clouds and rushing skyward again just as fast. Standing in the rain feeling the deluge drumming on your face. But most importantly, watching each drop bounce and fall again with perfect syncronicity. A storm often breaks tension and that was the case today: a blazing row washed away and hopefully forgotten. People are capable of saying the funniest, most irrational, things when they are shaking with rage but they usually don't mean a thing. It's very lonely when you realise that you're wrong.
As a kid I loved order. I also had to know absolutely all there was to know about something before I did it. I remember crying my eyes out at Disney because I had no idea what the roller-coaster was like. Rode it: loved it! The unknown really scared me. I guess some of this has stayed with me - I'm pretty methodical and thorough. But I'm amazed (and fairly relieved) at how much I;ve changed. I don't need to know. I'm happy dealing with whatever gets thrown in my direction. Improvisation. The unknown still scares me but that's fine.
I feel I have one really good book in me. It may never be written but it's in there somewhere. I'd like to think it would be a novel - one that transgressed 'set-text' status on Literature courses but was perhaps footnoted at the bottom as 'suggested reading' for the very brave or intellectual. In all probability it will be a biography of someone I would rather be. Autobiographies fascinate me. We meet so many people, each with their own equally valid stories and asides, how do you fit them all into your own account? Who do you leave out?
What a journey. Travelling back from Bulgaria to London one day after the arrest of 24 suspected terrorists. I've been awake for almost thirty hours now and so, technically, I'm writing tomorrow. I've discovered time travel! I'm not complaining though - almost all of the passengers queued obediently for hours at check-in. No hand luggage; remove all batteries from electrical items; remove your watch. Three hours on 'Whizz Air' with no music and no book. Better still, with no watches we had no idea how much longer this punishment would last. Home now and time to put today to bed.
I have never been particularly aware of clearly defined chapters to my life, it has always been more of a stream of consciousness punctuated with events. But having met people who recognise the beginnings and ends of these periods, I find I'm starting to look out for them. I suppose it's easier at school and even university where each year is given a shiny capital letter and you move from 'Fresher' to 'Finalist'. Since university my chapters have been based on geography, job or friendship groups. I'm not sure when to stop dividing. Does every change warrant a new chapter?
Her nose is too long. And her chin juts out just a little too far. Her face doesn't look comfortable. 'Would you rather lose an arm or a leg?' She said arm, she couldn't be without her legs. 'Would you rather have minor fame during your lifetime or eternal fame when you were dead?' She chose minor while still alive: she'd want to enjoy it. 'Would you rather have a penis with scales or a fanny with teeth?' She laughed. I'm almost sure she laughed. She does a cracking impression of Mary giving birth the Jesus. She sucks her cheeks.
We dream alone and I believe that it should stay that way. Everyone likes to share their dreams but I haven't met a single person who genuinely enjoyed listening to someone else's dream. If they are smiling as you recount your bizarre trip it's probably because they can't wait for you to finish so they can tell you all about theirs. My favourite dream: an old lady and a tiger are sitting on a bench. The tiger is dressed in a sharp pin-stripe suit. He makes polite conversation about the weather before leaning over and biting off the woman's head.
Tonight I'm really very tired, but I'm happy. I don't think I say that enough. Despite being temporarily unemployed and on a perpetual house hunt, I'm enjoying myself. It seems so easy to fall into depression sometimes and focus on what is empty or missing. The negative space. As my face gradually starts to crinkle and crease I'd like to think that my laughter lines will be more pronounced than any evidence of frowning. I hope to wear that face well. But then, I suppose that depends upon what lies around the corner and how I choose to face it.
Do we all, at some point, believe that we are capable of something special? Beyond a whispered dream or silent aspiration. An absolute certainty that anything is within our grasp. I'm not sure if this is a fleeting egotistical malady (blind faith in serendipity) or just a high-sounding nothing. More likely, so I'm told, a side-effect of youth. What's the expression? If you aim for the moon you might hit the stars. Or simply, as you get older your dreams must change. Hopefully not a compromise, just reigning in the God-complex a little. The plan was Rock stardom by now!
Caryatid: a female figure in architecture used to support a larger structure. Carved into stone with the weight of the world on her shoulders. I think it would make a good title for a play. Functional and decorative. Art with a utility. Does art always have a purpose beyond the aesthetic? It must, although it probably differs in each case. Modigliani exhibition today. I don't usually enjoy portraiture but this was a little different: with their eyes removed/backed-out, Modigliani's subjects resembled the dead. Many of the sitters remain anonymous, lost to history but sitting on a chair in front of me.
A long day searching for houses in London. The decision has been made: stay in the capital, work and act without the training - for the moment at least. Now is not the time to leave, things are only just beginning. A drink (or two) to celebrate/commiserate and I've tattooed myself in biro. Important lessons to consider in the morning; lyrics; witty jokes and names of people previously forgotten. I'm confident it will all mean something/nothing tomorrow and I will act upon/ignore everything I've written. What I really crave is silence/ white noise/ black nights/ bright lights/ neon/ darkness/ silence.
He would wake in sweats pondering eternity and how he would keep busy. His room was small, not over-lit. A sea-green box with blu-tac constellations. At intervals, above his bed, a frieze of bulls smiling, playing cricket. One night he woke with the familiar chill. 'My God you've got a pre-Raphaelite face.' Said the bull to the boy looking down from his crease. And the boy pissed himself. A perfect arc on his bed. His feet getting warmer and his cheeks wet with tears. The bulls were jeering - they'd broken for lunch - like football fans on a train.
Wonder what you're doing now? Sleeping probably like everyone else. Wonder if you've forgiven me yet? If I were a betting man, I'd say no. We had fun for a while before it all grew tired. You made me smile for ages when I kissed your nose. You hated that. You were always cold in your mittens and hat. You looked like a Siberian Holly Golightly. Making the bed was a military operation - I've never seen so many blankets. But there were bad times when the laughter was gone and that's all I've been able to remember. Until now.
'Actor' poses; pouting for the camera; drinking neat whisky in old-fashioned pubs; the jazz club; the Sudanese restaurant - our restaurant! Stealing the mannequin; building the set; climbing Arthur's seat one night and watching Edinburgh awash with light. All of these things I miss about the festival. Watching the sun rise; the cloud break; the rain fall and the stars glisten in my pint. Saying the same lines each night and listening to the audience laugh in different places. Sweating in my costume; warming up; lots and lots of laughing. It all rushes back as I look at this picture.
One sunny day five years ago in France I jumped out of a plane and eventually jumped ten more times that week. I hated it, then loved it, then said I'd never do it again. My ears bled and I never quite trusted the guy packing my chute telling me everything was gonna be all right with a joint between his teeth. Now I feel like doing it again - To step outside into something where I have no control. I need that departure . That sixty second freefall where I can be completely alone, cut off from the human race.
Hunched up, hunched over and eaten inside. He'll never survive. He will never decide. The Suicide Handbook lies just to one side. And he writes: he's the scribe. A poet of sorts. A victim of others. Boys without fathers need sisters and brothers. So he drinks. The stoic ecstatic slumped in his chair, breathing in stiff leathered skin. Eyes lost in their sockets, hewn into the skull, pitted beneath thick bitumen hair. And he creases with accordian laughter, wheezing and spitting out sighs. He will never survive. And so he drinks. How can he leave when he's not really there?
Back in the room I grew up in from thirteen to eighteen - those years where the world gets much, much bigger. Black, white and blue: definitely a boy's room. Posters of James Bond and Star Wars - R2D2 in the corner, Boba Fett on the other wall. No wonder i didn't bring any girls home! My guitar case propped up by the amp. It hasn't made a sound in six years. Wonder if that string is still broken? Boxes of folders and coursework and books from school, then college, then uni. Where will they all end up?
My heart's not really in this tonight. Something is simmering slowly just off where I can't see for the dark. The moth drifts into the window again and drops to the ground. Somewhere, someone is laughing. Somewhere, someone is sitting in shock - surprised at what they've just done. Life will never be the same again. Somewhere, someone is falling asleep in front of the television, catching snatches of speech and explosions. Somewhere, someone is trying to write but all of the language is dead. Words writhe over each other and bleed into lines and stops, conjured in a daydream.
Occasionally I panic - something grips me around the heart and squeezes tight: the blood stops flowing and my limbs go numb. I see waves of people cut across me, bent on distant destinations and I have no idea where I'm going. I hate shopping during the holidays! Everyone seems to be watching every move I make - Of course they're not but my hands sweat and I touch my face repeatedly trying to make a casual gesture to fill the time and satisfy their eyes. I stop, turn around and wonder, 'is this all for me?' The Adam show.
If I tried to read every book ever written, I'd be dead a long time before I'd scratched the surface. There's not enough time for it all. How do you decide which ones are worth reading? The bestsellers? The Classics? The cult hits? Recommendations from friends? Or entirely at random - pushing a pin in a map. I should give up now. Sit down in front of the telly and eat what I'm given. Maybe the rolling news on BBC 24 - No choices there. I'll be spoonfed explosions, earthquakes and war. Then I'll die complaining I had no choice.
Travelling to meet Ed almost one year, to the day, since we last saw each other. He's not my oldest friend by a long way but he's certainly one of my best. Who else could I call for a last minute surf trip? Or a week away in the mountains? Who else would I follow out of a plane? We agree on most things - not least that carving your own tracks is usually the most satisfying way of getting anywhere. I wonder how much, if anything, has changed. He returns as a mysogynistic racist homophobe. That would be amusing.
We are so young and yet we feel as though we're being left behind by those with 'performance based goals'. Measured with a large silver clock: how long can you spend in the office? How little sleep can you get and still survive? How much coffee do you need to live? A little less than the next guy and you'll do well. An absolute passion for travel, that's what he has. I have the same. To learn from other cultures and survive alone. Meeting other like-minded people - forcing time to stand still for you and living for this moment.
A friend beaten and mugged by a gang of kids no more than eighteen years old. Frantic - spitting out curses. High and looking for trouble. How did we all get split up? I didn't get there in time. We saw them coming from behind. We heard their bottles landing just beside us. I felt the push in my back and the scream in my ear but I actually smiled and carried on walking. The blood was up. Then I turned and watched it in the distance - could explain each blow to the police but I couldn't stop it happening.
We've spoken a lot now. It's been a couple of weeks but I don't think this is going to be easy. You have the most incredible turn of phrase, by the way. Sometimes you feel like your spine is going to penetrate your stomach. Your words, a long time ago. I hope that's a chapter long forgotten. I wonder where you will end up. Somewhere with a terrace that catches the sun in the morning I'll bet. You could write your novel there and sing, badly. The Little Girl Lost. I know my lovely Lyca dancing like a flame.
I have tried to keep a diary maybe once or twice but barely got passed day two on either occasion. Memory does not always obey the rules set by time. I find that I remember events but I can't place them into a linear structure. I'm left with islands of time and pools of personal history. There's an entire ocean of time behind me that I can't see now and never shall. I've got to try and piece together my memories with what other people tell me. I think, therefore I am. But not always, I remember, therefore I was.
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