Mercer's Poems


Chapter 1. – I’m Not In Love.

I’d like to say it is really hard to write a story. There’s so much to consider, how exactly do you put a series of coincidental, yet quite amazing, heartwarming and touching events into a linear sequence, let alone find the correct words from a vast back-catalogue of vocabulary, in order to express it.

Well, I’ve tried many a time. You’d think of a basic premise, I don’t know, maybe a cowboy in a saloon, maybe a fish with a human face…whatever ridiculous premise you desired. Unfortunately then you’d actually begin writing it, and you think “Oh, well what about a love story…” and, ok for a cowboy it is possible to write in some cold but inviting Madame who keeps her distance but he has a thing for; but what about for a fish with a human face!?

This is what pisses me off. You see in real life, it never seems to go like a story. Those contemporary war novels you read, featuring raucous admirals on board nuclear submarines, barking orders at subordinates like a dog with tourettes, probably all nonsense. I’ve never been aboard a nuclear submarine, but I’m pretty certain in a time of crisis, keeping a cool head is not only essential, but probably ingrained into the psyche of military types from very early on in training.

Are you a fan of period romance? Enjoy it when the stuck up posh girl ends up falling in love with the gruff but handsome stable hand…yeah, but, when they get the part where he wins his future father-in-laws respect by performing something heroic…never happened…and the father beat his daughter for being a harlot, and she died a spinster…the end!

But this is the hypocrisy of being an author…While I know it’s not like that, I can never accept it…Fairytales do happen, and they happen to all of us. Doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, black, white, hindu, jew or pursuer of a more alternative faith. The world likes you, and I like you; and let me tell you why.

Chapter 2 – Born to Run?

They say write what you know? But what did I know? I was young, mostly drunk and pretending to be far more stupid than I actually was. Back then days seemed longer, nights seemed longer, alcohol seemed to disappear quicker, and yet hangovers were rarely, if ever an occurrence.

Problem is, those days don’t last forever, and one day you wake up and your chiselled jaw now houses a hanging balcony of chin underneath, your once rock hard stomach seems quite happy to relax over the waistband of your trousers and your smooth skin, nice complexion and cheery, but cheeky grin now look haggard, grisly and do not even consider thinking about smiling, because it makes you look a little bit rapey.

Perhaps a hyperbolic method of telling you that time changed me. Time changes all of us. But the point lost when you wake up on aforementioned morning was, “yeah, I look like my younger self, only as if a glacier has slid slowly, and painfully down my face…But boy I had a great time getting there!”

It’s a point we all forget, as newspapers bombard us with useless, scaremongering dietary information, “Ooh! Wow! Tomatoes cure cancer!” then two weeks later…”Ooh! Harsh! Tomatoes cause cancer!”…And all those celebrity endorsed bullshit eating plans…I mean, do I really give a shit whether or not Gwyneth paltrow ate two grams of microcress and a mungbean for her dinner, cold Chinese is much nicer, and it made me smile.

We lose the point of why we went out to enjoy ourselves. Social functions become pretty much the modern form of fighting amongst tribes of people. We can’t physically take these people, who we always go to their functions even though we hate them, outside to beat them, so instead the fighting occurs in a secure middle class location, like a dining room, or a social function hall (not a local members club…far too working class daaaaah-ling!) The only thing faker than all the handshakes and conversation is the tits on the hostess but you’re not supposed to notice them, because if you do your own missus will be on your arse faster than boy George on a chained up rent boy. You have one too many bevies, and end up waking up in the spare room, with your tie still round your head where you pretended to be bruce springsteen…unfortunately to the tune of classical chillout panpipe vol. 14, because that’s the only pretentious nonsense they’re allowed to play at functions at Tit’s McGees house.

Maybe back in the day that was a sin forgiven…One too many beverages, you had a bit of fun; but now we have video functions on our mobile phones, and youtube. So there you are, dressed like a twat, dancing on the top of these unfortunate people’s ‘vintage’ table (that they got from one of those shops that sell shit stolen from skips and tips and dussy it up as vintage, daaaah-ling!) performing the world’s greatest air-guitar routine, unfortunately to a panpipe rendition of that ghastly song from the film Titanic, originally sung by that Canadian Giraffe who speaks French.

You may have potentially noticed, the above paragraphs are all basically unintelligible and bitter rants.

This is unfortunately another by-product of the waking up on that same morning. Suddenly, you hate everything. Unfortunately, and if you are a bitter bastard you will already know this, this does not happen to everyone. The guy who is married to the chick with the big tits in the aforementioned rant…He was not miserable on that morning. Git.

Also, those people who tell you how you should make the most of your opportunities and ‘network’ with people…They did not do that. And the people who, in the grimmest economical crises, will always say “look for the opportunity in it”, they did not wake up miserable.

We could examine the socio-economic reasons why COUGHrichdadCOUGH but that would be COUGHloadsamoneyCOUGH petty of me. To assume any kind of COUGHhowthefuckdidtheyaffordtobuyanaudiat17,letalonepaytheinsurance,fuckingrichdadtheymusthavehadCOUGH lifestyle would have made a difference on their mood is to be judgemental and irresponsible of me.

The thing I’m trying to say in these first couple of chapters is that, well happiness is an equal opportunities feeling. I was…indeed am I a miserable dick…but moaning about petty little things helps to remind me that, in the big scheme of things, I’m very lucky.

I’ll tell you my story, it’s long and not pretty…well some of it is…but, it reminds that my pot belly and beard are not necessarily inhibiting factors in happiness, and hopefully, whether you have a pot belly and a beard or not (hopefully not if you’re a female…the beard that is, if you’ve got a pot belly that’s cool with me, you’re either pregnant or a larger lady as, in the words of the late great Freddy, “Fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round!”)
You never know, maybe my kids won’t have my attitude…Maybe they’ll grow up to have big titted wives, tell people to make the most of their opportunities, and drive Audi’s at 17!

Chapter 3- Love’s long history: part 1 – Agadoo.

Being a working class child, watching soaps on a daily basis was a pre-requisite. Not only did these beam images on untold love unto my impressionable little mind, but they also beamed images of unclothed lust; so that my impression was that, when I had finally grown up, if I didn’t have someone who I had to hug, continually, for 24 hours a day, I would at least have someone to fuck for 24 minutes a day and then tell her to piss off, and she’d still come back if I called later. This is, unfortunately a fallacy, and if any of the ladies with whom I tried it on and was rejected are reading, that is the first time my name, and the sound “fallace-“ have been linked.
While all my so called ‘friends’ were ‘getting off’ at about the age of 10 or so, I was desperately sat there like a depressingly bad stereotype from a 90s rom-com, never been touched, never been kissed, I had never even been considered.

Ok, having begun to write this I just want to clarify a few things. I am writing, which technically makes me a writer…I am bitchy, yes but only when necessary and I do have intimacy issues. I am, also, apparently a member of those of the penis bearing disposition, and yet instead of writing about fighter jets, gangsters, or murders, I appear to be writing about romance. This does not, nor will it ever make me a homosexual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a homophobe or anything, I’m all for gays in actual fact, because they’re always well turned out and generally quite toned and attractive, which means I get an added “YES!!!!” factor when I talk to a lady who is with a handsome guy and it turns out to be her gay friend! GET IN!

Back to the main bit!

School discos were a write off, and while I tried to look as cool and ‘lone-wolfish’ as is possible to do with a bottle of cherryade and some beefburger flavoured crisps, it really was never going to work. I was essentially stood in the corner of a dark assembly hall, that smelled of feet from games, and dry ice from the smoke machine, listening to a sad song on my own…It was the only time I would desperately call out for oops upside ya head, agadoo, or, god forbid, the grease megamix…Anything to stop me feeling like I either had some form of leprosy because otherwise I was literally untouchable for no reason in particular.

This was made all the worse by the fact that I had an almost permanent crush on one girl, Lacey, who had eyes that screamed kiss me and a mind that said “I too will stimulate you!” Ok, so I’d rather have a pretty chick with no brain than an ugly one with one…but she had both and my god was that hot!

She was that serious a crush that I can still remember the small pockmark she had on her head, just off to one side, barely noticeable to anyone who hadn’t studied her face in such depth.

So that’s how the pre-teen romance was for me. Not a good start eh? What was worse though was that I was fat, and I dressed like an idiot. I suppose you don’t realise how you look when you’re that young but…for a well fitting suit in those days, you know!? I mean, we’ve all seen Bugsy Malone? Those kids looked cool; I wanted to be one of those kids! You never know, maybe Jodie Foster’s life would have been completely different! Wink Wink!

The problem is, it is easy to romanticise these things, Lacey, my school playground sweetheart could be on benefits with eighteen kids by now, I don’t know, all I know is at the time it was like she’d fallen from heaven just to give me memories of what it was to be young.

Besides, you don’t really know how love works when you’re young. Looking back Lacey was just a girl I liked to talk to, and spend time with, I was too young to understand that the relationship between a man and woman can get far more complicated.

N.B. By complicated I do mean sex…Yes, we will eventually get to that bit…keep your bloody trousers on, it’s not that kind of story.

Chapter 4 – Loves long history: Part 2 – Scar Tissue

Oh dear…Can we just talk about my early years some more…no…we have to move on and get to the main narrative, and out of all this prologuey bollocks? What’s that? Oh, get on with it! What!? Oh shit am I typing our conversation…

Yeah, so, erm, well naturally after the pre-teen years must come the teen years, and, well, again they were not good…not…goooood.

Well firstly, we can skip the first few high school years…Yes friends were still ‘getting off’ with girls…In fact; some friends were actually leaving the house. I left the house once; I was wearing a pair of casual cargo-style trousers and a yellow Ben Sherman shirt. I played football for a bit and then some creepy looking midget twat in a pair of sellotaped NHS spectacles thought it would be funny to punch me in the face, which was an action he duly performed, and which did incidentally cause some mirth among him and his friends. Not much for me though…I went down less like a sack of spuds and more like a controlled demolition, slowly, and with little grace, but much wonder. I also cried. I think I tried to avoid external activity for a while after that. Luckily playstations, while still relatively new, were quite cheap and I found my solace in the engrossing zombie slaying, tomb raiding and turn-based monster mashing carnage; that was pretty much the next three years or so erased.

During that time, however, I got myself a paper round. You see there were not many dangerous types out at six of clock in the morning, and it was quite an active route. This meant that I had money to buy fags and look cool, and I lost a lot of weight. While not a skinny mini, I was a handsome fellow, and, due to my lack of contact with the outside world I had pretty much dropped any idea of fashion, and decided the most popular men’s clothing was button shirts, and jeans. This was, apparently quite a smart look. I would like to reiterate that these changes all occurred predominantly by chance, I had neither considered the weight loss implications of a paper round, and was unaware that shirts were even worn by anyone outside of office settings.

So by fifteen, while I still hadn’t been kissed, and indeed, the casual hugs which seemed to be so bandied about with serendipity caused me great discomfort, I was at least vaguely hug and kissable. This is where I think I deserve a medal because, to make anything vaguely presentable, let alone attractive, from the body I had, and indeed have nurtured (since I haven’t changed bodies…I hope…) is practically miraculous. Indeed turning me attractive just pips Jesus turning water into wine; although I am in no way claiming to be any figure of religious significance, let alone a messiah.

With hindsight, I should maybe have stayed in my bedroom with my playstation. My infidelity to that long term partner of mine is something I have always regretted, but I always go back to her in the end. She is my Resident Evil, it is my Call Of Duty to always go back to her, and she will always be my Final Fantasy.

You see, if I had been 25 years of age, sat in a pub with a few friends, talking to ladies, and I mentioned I was a virgin, the initial pathetic-rating would be lowered greatly when it is vaguely considered (probably in the bathroom, since that’s the only place ladies enjoy plotting, like Hecate’s witches in MacBeth (or the Scottish play, if you’re reading this in a theatre…sorry!)) that one of them could potentially pop the cork on this best quality vintage.

As it turns out, I lost my virginity at a house party in a snobby neighbourhood, to a heffer, under a willow tree. That’s like posh trash right there. That probably makes me some sort of regal figurehead in nouveau riche circles. But it was a cold experience. The lady in question, who I can’t think of a pseudonym for, so she shall remain nameless, was quite a bit more experienced than I, but not of too dissimilar age. For some that will read as ‘loves easily’, but hopefully for most of you that will read ‘slag’. I won’t say that personally, I’ll let you make your mind up. Anyway, once that was done, despite the fact that my intention was to have plenty of repeat sex, in some sort of relationship capacity, as my gentlemanly demeanour will always imply; she actually just said she never wanted to see me again…

Now, a few problems arise from that. For one thing, as a fifteen year old (she was older, but let’s not call the police here, the age gap was small!) I, until that day, had never been kissed, touched, or hugged in any sort of sexual or ‘loving’ way. I was pure…

I say that, I had ejaculated previously, indeed many times, but from the same loving caress of most teenage boys, and if that brings up any other image than of furiously masturbating, I suggest you call social services, and a councillor.

So I was pure…to an extent. I mean, I’d never been kissed, let alone felt the silky flesh of a ladies nether-regions, I mean, I had definitely touched less genitalia than a choirboy…wait, maybe that’s a bad example, sorry Catholicism. Innocent until proven guilty and all that…Needless to say, while I assumed, being a sensible young lad, that no teenage intimacy would really last, I at least wanted some vague hint of the relationship part. Instead I just got used for my virginity by a slag that’d been there and done that.

To all those who are emotionally challenged, I give you permission to laugh at this bit, because it does seem stupid. If you’re not emotionally challenged, by all means think of me as sweet.

I felt so used. Not in a good way, you know. Not in a one-night-stand, she likes it rough kind of way. But just in an ‘I just want my cunt filled, no matter by who, and you happened to be willing and I don’t give a shit if you want to see me afterwards’ kind of way. I mean, I had spoken to this girl before, got to know her a bit, this was not cold, no strings house party sex, I turned up to meet her, and she fucked me in more ways than one…I fucked her in more holes than one, but who’s bragging…either way I didn’t feel good afterwards. That’s not right. I should have felt invincible, like a god. Instead I felt an abandoned puppy. Let’s have a collective ‘awwwwww’ for me…

Of course, as mentioned, I was a handsome-ish young man, and I was also generically male at the time, i.e. I would hide my feelings behind wave after wave of bravado and only remember it all ten to twenty years later while listening to Fields of Gold by Sting, and I’ll sigh, shed a tear and remember how my heart was torn out, had sex with, and put back and told to shut up!

But I picked myself back up, got to know another girl. We did actually have a relationship, which was nice. It mostly consisted of me going to her house, and us eating a meal with her family and trying to desperately fight the pituitary-secreted hormone based urges that made us want to tear each other’s clothes off; or round at mine for sex and a DVD, because my parents had no prerequisite about having my door open.

For those sappy chaps, one night, when she was supposed to be attending an amateur dramatics society meeting, I braved an hour and half walk in cold, clear skied autumn weather in order to sit with her on a beach, upon a big rock, under a moon that glistened in the sky pearlescent almost only for the sake of our romantic scene. We just hugged, and talked…

SERIOUSLY! I’m not a homosexual! You only realise how important these moments are when you compare them to all others. To this day that is possibly the most like-a-movie relationship moment I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately, it did not last and, as was to become a bit of a habit, I got dumped not long after Christmas. Yeah, tell me about it!? Go fucking figure why a chick will never give you the heave-ho before she receives her fucking gifts and while you’ve still got the receipts. It really wasn’t working though, and in a strange twist to the supposed precedent that men are less mature than ladies, she asked me if I had any diseases, because she thought an ingrown hair was potentially a sexually transmitted infection…Let’s play a game of what does the death knell of a relationship sound like.

Now, not much had past in terms of age from the aforementioned slag who stole the only thing that can’t be given back from me, and the aforementioned lady of questionable intellect who thought that because she got a rash from shaving her lady-garden that I was some kind of Petri dish. But the latter hurt.

I’m not talking cut to the arm hurt. I mean, the kind of, well imagine being jilted at the altar after thinking nothing was wrong; a helpless whelp, stood with eyes leering at you, as someone explains why they can’t be with you for reasons you never knew existed. Our breakup came out of nowhere and, I suppose I must have always known that she would be my ‘one who got away’ story, rather than my ‘oh we’ve been together since we were teenagers’ story. It killed me, and to this day, I am still that hurt by it, that I genuinely hope she regrets it every day she’s with an inferior man…I’m back to being a bitter bastard aren’t I?

After that, well I grew up. I say that, I mean I made myself emotionally cold. From that day I have been objective, considerate, and willing to accept, on a daily basis, that a relationship can end almost anytime.

Unfortunately I also had a penis. An unadulterated (in a strange paradoxical sense of the word) driving force behind 95% of my actions.  Therefore fastforward a year or so and I was already with someone else.
This meander into interpersonal human sexual/emotional relations lasted considerably longer than all previous attempts, but with far fewer memorable occasions, good or bad. It seems cold, but for justification of that, see previous paragraphs. I would not go so far as to say I was dead inside, well, not initially. By the end of the relationship I certainly was. For a young couple to be involved in a sexless long-distance hell is almost inevitably a blueprint for ruin; and to not have at least an event, or story from the relationship, it should tell you how shit it was; when a human being, with an imagination that has the potential to run vivid cannot even romanticise something to make it seem like a story.  

Two years wasted. Fuck it.

Chapter 5 – Too much love will kill you.

So, now you find me; several years later. Several lonely, wank filled, sexless year later. Here’s the thing, when you are a male, everyone assumes that your driving force is to go out indiscriminately bonking anything and everything that comes into view, so long as it has an orifice of equal or, in some cases, lesser dimensions than your phallus, and preferably, although with some people not always the case, a pulse.

I have never been like that. Nor did I ever cheat, or even vaguely hint at cheating in any of my early relationships. Which is why I find it exceedingly difficult to enjoy myself; I’m not a hedonist, nor am I a sadist, or fetishist, and, thankfully nor am I a rapist.

Sex is not my driving force. Even when it was, I fabricated feelings for the sole purpose of justifying defiling innocent young females; and in the end it was always they who ended up defiling me. I like to consider myself somewhat an anomaly among the male of the species; A respectable gentleman, who would rather tug himself furiously to relief than indulge in a sordid act with a lady with whom I have no possible good intentions. 

Of course, the counterarguement is that there are ladies out there who quite enjoy sordid acts, but I have found that, with my portly figure, poor conversational skills, dry humour and slightly murderey beard, that such ladies would rather avoid me and go with a generically handsome (i.e. does not really have to be handsome at all, so long as he is skinny with short hair) gentleman. Again, I say gentleman, the only thing gentle about them is that they will only hit you half as hard when they’re sobre as they do when they’re drunk.

I mean, what is a man to do. I could cut my lengthy, elvish locks and shave my scruffy chin, but that just exposes my grotesquely shrek like moon-face and my northern butcher’s double chin. I look like a caricature of myself for fucks sake.

What is more, my job kills me. I’d like to mean literally, that one more afternoon sat at a monitor will deplete me of my will to continue existing and I’ll just fade out of being. Unfortunately I mean metaphorically, every day, every waking hour spent sat at that desk is like a small piece of all that stuff inside you that you cannot explain, all that hope, and happiness and dream and life and love and being, all of that just gets sapped out of me.

If that was not clue enough, I work in insurance. I’m not even the chirpy annoying salesperson. They’re so chirpy because they have developed specific tactics for making people buy insurance they do not need, and work on a commission basis. Meaning for every pound they illegitimately extract from you, they take a cut of a few pennies; as well as earning a reasonable salary.

No, I am that miserable bastard on the end of the phone every time you get a renewal notice through the post. The one who desperately tries to push things you don’t want onto you and you never take them. I have to push those. Unlike the chirpy sales people, I do not get a cut of your policy if you renew, I only get a meagre amount from anything added.

I’m the person on the end of the phone who you will ALWAYS tear into. A frontline soldier; I’m the fucking infantry. I have no social or political affiliations, my wealth is negligible, my worth, apparently, minimal, and I’ll always get shot down first.

It’s a terrible job, a worse career and an almost certain way to ensure you put on weight, kill yourself inside, and make you not want to wake up in the mornings.

But, I need the money, and a career change now is all but impossible. I can wish all I like that I had not pursued this path; indeed the only reason I did was because everyone was hassling me for being unemployed; Which, while tedious and often depressing, at least gave me enough vim and vigour to feel depressed. Now, I don’t have the energy to feel anything. It’s just every day, on those phones and when I have a day off I spend them in bed.

While the task itself is very monotonous and life-sapping, most of the time it is the customers that take your last shred of hope for enjoying your day, extract from you, and then proceed to morris dance over it until your day no longer has any purpose but to drag you, willingly, closer to your grave. One sunny Monday morning, my first call quiveringly announced that they would like to cancel a policy because the policyholder, their husband, had died….HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE!

One wishing-I-could-bang-my-head-repeatedly-against-my-desk day I spoke to a gentleman who was unhappy that his motor insurance premium was higher as the offending claim which raised his insurance was one in which a squirrel had hit him…

…yes, apparently masses of al quaeda suicide squirrels are gladly throwing themselves at passing motorists in a bid to destabilise our economy by raising our motor insurance premiums. Or it could be that simple-minded idiots do not understand that the concept of travelling at 60mph down a narrow, winding country lane does not really compute with a squirrel, and perhaps their perception of depth, and the association of an objects velocity in relation to its covering of that depth were slightly miscalculated…No, of course it makes far more sense that a squirrel would deliberately hit your car.

Ah, but these are the days that, as a young man I should be enjoying. That while my job is a tedious bore, and my desire to be gets slowly and painfully torn from my soul, I should always be thinking for the weekend! Woo! Or, for reasons already established, perhaps not. My weekends usually consist of sleep and playstation, often in equal measure. If, perchance, I should be indulging deeply in a storyline, it is possible to put the sleep aside and stay up late enjoying the wonderful narratives of a game. Of course, being young and soulless it would be impossible for me to get through these weekends without alcohol, however rather than consume it, pig-like, from a communal trough known as a ‘pub’ or ‘club’, I much prefer to sit quietly on my own and drink, and game, until I throw up, or sleep.

Some people might view that as sad, and indicative of a problem. However it is no more indicative of a problem than going out with so-called ‘friends’, in a shower of chauvinist scents and metrosexual t-shirts, in the biggest external show of penis sizes ever considered, to ‘do shots’ before clinging desperately onto the hope that you’ll fuck something more attractive than your ‘friends’ that night. And if none of you gets to fuck anything then it’s outside for a brawl so you can go home with a pint glass forcible inserted into your skin. This collective attitude that drinking on your own is unhealthy whilst being in a large group, constantly goading each other to consume more, at ludicrously inflated prices, is in any way a good idea.

So, there you have it. Here you find me, at the bottom of a bottle, with the social skills of a barn owl, loveless, friendless, and lifeless.

So where’s this fairytale then? You say.

Well, is it not always the case that only when the protagonist is at his lowest ebb, does his true love come to him? Well, maybe not in some stories, but they’re usually in action films, where ‘lowest ebb’ equates to having sixteen men to kill and not just four. Either way, have patience, fuck knows I had to…years of it; you’ve only got a few hours of reading to do!

Chapter 6 – Where did it all go wrong?

I awoke with another sore head. It had been four weeks since I signed off work, officially off for work related stress/depression, but actually I was just clinically fucked off. The hours spent in the same office space had seemed to drag on for an eternity. Stephen fucking Hawking could not have figured out the real length of time I had spent there, he would have just said that it was expanding and expanding. I’d seen people come in after me and go up the career ladder before me. Nothing saps your self-worth like seeing some old brown nose get to the carrot before it has even been put on a stick and dangled for you.

Some say these are just ambitious people. I know they’re just greedy people. They want the money, the power, and the infamy that comes with it. If it were Nazi Germany these would be the people pulling the levers to turn on the gas; and then when it all goes tits up 1945 style, they’d say they were only following orders. Ambitious my tits.

What was this feeling in my mouth? Felt like I’d been licking a sheep…tasted like it too. Jesus. I was in a bad way. The dry, flaky sores around my mouth suggested a poor diet of booze and junk; the deep ploughed furrows in my head suggested one too many hangovers, and the testicles like medicine balls suggested I was so lazy and down I couldn’t even be bothered to masturbate. You know you’re in a bad way when, not only do you not get any sex, but you can’t even be bothered to take care of yourself.

Maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I never went to university, and had that laissez- faire casual lifestyle. I never had sex with a stranger, or partied until six AM and had to be in lectures for nine. Instead I spent a great deal of time unemployed, and thus desperately clutched at the first dead end job that came my way; thinking that because, when I was unemployed, I was miserable and I had no money, that money would have to equal happiness.

As many of you will know, that logic is fundamentally flawed.

Instead of seeing the working world as a natural progression, I felt it was forced; and so after years of sticking with it, it came as no surprise that I could no longer take the orders, the targets, the meetings, and the general fakery of the working world. Any genuine friends had come and gone and all that was left was colleagues. People who you pretend to tolerate from 9-to-5 so as to in some way trick yourself that they, and inversely, you are not arseholes. The imposing atmosphere, the weight of targets and the responsibility thereof, and the fact that some fucking arsehole had nearly made me lose my temper because I could not renew his insurance as it was too early, but he demanded it done because he was going on a six week holiday, made me lose myself.

So for the last four weeks I spent my days just drinking. I did not even consult the holy council of my beloved games consoles. I just drank. I liked the slightly dizzy out of body feeling it gave me. The fact that, just as the alcohol begins to take control you feel a warm spasm in your veins that travels from the pit of your stomach to the soon-to-be dizzy heights of your head. It made me forget that I was a loser. It made me feel like a somebody. Not just a somebody, I could be anybody. I was a rockstar, a film star, a high class businessman, an interesting man, a clever man…most of all I just was not myself. That’s the person I was trying to avoid. I was basically doing the self-loathing equivalent of crossing the road and looking the other way when you see someone you know but really don’t want to have to stop and talk to them. I was avoiding me, lest I finally realise I would actually have to do something.

My bed stank, its grim sheets stiffened with dry sweat, my pillow was yellow with dribble and vomit, so I spent most of my time sleeping on the couch. Which, while it was just as bad as the bed it did not quite seem it, for its temporary nature. The coffee table was an array of bottles and cans, most of them cheap, all of them empty, usually to my dismay as gruelling headaches brought me around from my self inflicted booze comas.

Nobody likes to think of people living like this. We all assume that, in our society we’re all happy to be alive, we all desire to work, and that people who aren’t like this are just stupid and lazy. This is a complete fallacy of course. Not everybody wants to work. What is work, after all but a distraction from those bigger things one’s mind thinks about, but that one’s logic doesn’t like to; Life, death, the sheer size of the universe, the implications of time, what happens if a meteor hits the earth? or a nuclear bomb goes off in your sleep? what is death? What is life? Why is life? Why is it that I was born as me and not someone else? and what if I had been born someone else, would I be someone else or would I just not be me!? These thoughts scare the shit out of us, so instead of bother to contemplate them, we eradicate the idea of thoughts by occupying our brains with mindless tasks. Then we invented portable music players so we could all but eliminate them from our thoughts on the way to work too. Clever individuals aren’t we? So working people consider non-workers to be in some way sinister or wrong, because not only are they not putting themselves through the same tortures as all those working folk, but they’re probably thinking about all the things everyone else is too scared too, and that’s why, after four weeks doing nothing, you end up having to drink. Not only to forget who you are, but all that you have been thinking about; and the inevitable thoughts of someone off work with depression is that a) life is essentially futile, and death is, nihilistically, final and ultimate, and b) that the only thing that provides meaning to life is those around you who love you and, at this time, nobody does love you and you’re all alone. Welcome to the dark mind of the lost and the hopeless; an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that can convert the most hopeful religious fanatic into a quivering existential wreck. I’d take schizophrenia over depression any day, at least then you might be alone, but you don’t think it.

I peeled myself from the couch with about as much enthusiasm as you can have when your head feels like it is being repeatedly beaten with a pile driver. There was no reason to question my motives, I knew why I was in self-destruct mode, but surely the methods have to be improved. Instead of worrying about it, though, I took a swig from a half empty bottle of cheap vodka. The alcoholics’ true friend, it’ll numb your brain in a matter of minutes if you consume enough of it quickly, and its reasonable price makes it, pound for pound, the most effective method of self-destruction short of suicide. That and super-strength lager make an almost mind-altering mix that can keep you from feeling for a couple of days. You can keep your morphine doctor, that’s my painkiller right there.

My clothes were stuck to my body, the wafting of their sickly odour was enough to trigger a gag reflex, but my still weak legs were not enough to drag me to the toilet, as I collapsed in the passage, hitting my head on the radiator, whilst vomiting all the way.

A good start to the day as always; life, pfft, it’s over rated.

Ten minutes later and I stirred again, not only with an even worse headache than before, but with a hint of concussion too, and the trickle of blood on the carpet by my forehead made me wonder quite what the point in all of this was, and quite for what purpose any divine being might not want to have made me hit another part of my head and kill me. Why is it young mums can have a car accident, seem fine and unexpectedly die of unseen internal bleeding days later, when I can wrap my head around a solid metal piece of central heating apparatus and suffer only ten minutes unconscious and a slight cut to the head. The only place those answers could be found is the bottom of a bottle, but instincts came before alcohol, and mine were telling me I was filthy, and hungry; so a shower first, and then to the shop for some grub and liquid lunch.

Chapter 7 – Every Day is Like Sunday

The sun hurt my eyes as I stepped out of the house. My pupils like pin-pricks as I desperately try to shut the day out; funny how my body seems so in sync with my mentality. Fully showered I look like a slightly fresher, healthier version of myself. My tangled hair and gruff beard still show a complete disregard for personal appearance, however, and hopefully emitted my anti-social message to the general public. I know I look like a wanker, it is to keep people from bothering me.

The streets seemed to be bathed in the same low lives and lazy bastards; Kindred spirits to myself except I had the dignity to drink at home, and not carry a can of lager around with me like it was some kind of fucking accessory.  Some buy a new bag, some get a bracelet, some buy some super-strength lager from the local offy and wear it like a badge of fucking honour; shameless scum. Still, how far removed from them was I? Not very was the short answer.

My steps were uncertain, like a newborn deer. I seemed to have some idea what they were for but I could not really do it. My footsteps were heavy and with all the grace of a dying elephant. Still, it was what was at the end of the journey that was important. A short walk, and a bus ride, and I could get some more cheap liquor and forget about the next week. It was quite the debate as to what to get. With limited funds, purchasing a selection was near impossible, so it had to be one of something. A crate of lager provides volume with the necessary potency, spirits provide excellent potency, but not enough volume…The fact that these were the hardest decisions I had to make shows exactly what a pointless waste of breath I was, and I was breathing a lot. Five minutes walk and panting like a rushed dog. I wasn’t ‘in bad shape’, I was practically fucking amorphous.

The sun was setting as I sat on the bus, my head pressed against the glass lazily. Not only had I evidently spent all my morning and afternoon doing nothing in particular, but I couldn’t even be fucked to support my own head. Still, I never did receive much support. Soon, soon I’d be at the supermarket…Soon I could eat, and more importantly drink. I felt an itch; it felt like something inside was missing. Too much blood in your alcohol stream will do that. It made me feel scared, and sick. It gave me nauseous headaches, and stomach aches, and general niggles. I could feel them setting in, as if my body didn’t want me clean and sober, as if it was as excepting of sobriety as I was.

The bus seemed to take its time; Every set of traffic lights like a thumbscrew being tightened. But I got there eventually. The only goal I’d set myself in weeks and I achieved it. The fact that the bus was small and cramped was of little consequence. The voices of the people on there drowned out by a ringing, a loud and penetrating ring, in my own head. I actually looked forward to the bright, pale lighting of the local superstore; The chill on my skin as I wandered the fridge aisles, the waft of hot chicken from the rotisserie. It made me feel at home. I felt comfortable.

To read this back pains me. The preceding paragraphs are witless and boring. But that was my life then. I had no witty retorts to send the way of the bastards on the bus, I had no method of humour, no concept of wit, I was desperately trying to induce some kind of alcohol related brain damage; if I had been a celebrity, I’d have had newspapers drooling over me, salivating like Pavlov’s dogs, preconditioned to responding to the signs; baggy eyes, gaunt look, open bottle of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Of course, I was just little old me. No media attention, no public outburst, and no priory clinic. Would anyone save me?

I left the supermarket, the bag previously intended for food was full of wine. A reasonable offer had made me forget I intended to eat and made me get more than my share of alcohol. The darkness outside was, by now, evident. Gone was the macabre purple shaded twighlight, and in its place there was nothing but cold, shadowy darkness. My figure cut a worrying form in poor light.

The supermarket building stood on an industrial estate, like a beacon of hedonistic capitalism. They sold everything, they made a profit off all of it and so they made their store bigger.

My worrying form stumbled around the corner. The well lit facia out of the way there was an air of gothic spookiness about an industrial estate, as the exposed brickwork reflected minimal of the orange sodium-vapour lighting, and so, rather than being dark it was more washed out, like an old movie.

Just as I thought about how dangerous it was to be out about this time, I heard a faint call about 100 yards down the road. Distinctly female, I gathered that it would be best to avoid it. No one likes trouble and its probably domestic anyway. I don’t wanna get involved. As my lumbering flesh, aided by skeletal mass, made it’s disgraceful was down the street, the shouting and screaming got louder, until the issue was evident. A large group of young lads surrounded a single female, clawing at her like hungry cats, they also seemed ready to pounce. While my policy is usually to keep my head down and walk away, I could not listen, with my back turned, to someone being sexually assaulted. I may have been a cowardly drunk bastard but I wasn’t one to walk away silently as I hear a woman scream in rape behind me…I swallowed my fear and stepped across the road. Luckily, it was suffiently dark, and they suffiently distracted to have heard my approach.

“There appears to be a problem here…” I said cooly, at least in my head. In actual fact what I said was, well more like “ARGH! OOF! FUCK! HUNGH!”.

You see, my silent approach had scared them and, instead of instigating a stand off, like what happens in the films, I was instantly attacked by this group of yobs. Luckily I had put my wine down over the road…I was going to need that later. But what of the girl?

When I came to I was in the arms of an attractive paramedic. Unfortunately he was an attractive gentleman, so therefore of little interest, bar medical, to me; however, beside him stood a veritable angel. Her hands seemingly strapped to her face with concern, her eyes bright with the flow of the tears of trauma. She looked a vision of misery and compassion in one.

“Oh my God! Is he going to be ok!?” she cried.

“He’ll be fine, we’ll take him to hospital to be checked out, make sure there’s no serious injuries, but he should be ok.” Came the measured reply of someone who I could not see.

In fact, I could not see a lot. In fact, one entire eye seemed to be able to see nothing but a seamless sheet of red; and what was this pain, Jesus Christ it hurt. It felt like I’d been spun on a swivel chair repeatedly while being punched in the face. The world moved suddenly, everything moved perfectly 180 degrees anti-clockwise. Then the pavement rippled, and then I vomited all over the handsome man who was seeing to any initial wounds. My acrid sick revealed the stomach of someone with a severe disrespect of his own body; and the angry look on the paramedics face was a fleeting image in my head as I drifted back to unconsciousness, it was only later I found out that I seemed to find this the funniest thing in the world.

Chapter 8 – This Time Imperfect

Waking up feels strange enough; that haunting feeling you get as your mind begins to process sense again, first your conscious mind kicks in and, despite the fact that it assures you that you are waking up, you wonder if it’s all just a dream. Then your eyes open, and any light present hurts your eyes. On this day though, more felt wrong than usually. Usually, once the initial feelings of regaining consciousness and obtaining eyesight, I used to feel a slight pang of guilt that I was living, while someone else far more deserving in the world, probably would not be waking up that morning. However on this morning I felt different, it felt…well I didn’t feel guilty to be alive. My mouth felt like the Gobi desert, my head like a piledriver and my body like I imagine a punchbag would feel; but otherwise I was ok…That seems like a ridiculously big otherwise. I’d been battered. What is worse I could remember it vividly, every landed punch, every swift kick. I could remember all, and feel their locations. But, hopefully I’d saved a girl.