July 13th 2009
First I stopped smoking. Then I stopped drinking. Soon after that I stopped thinking, and finally I stopped dreaming. I just sit here all day on the internet, waiting for God to slap me in the face.
July 12th 2009
I had a dream that I was talking to the moon. I was dressed in a spacesuit, floating in a dark, airless void. I was a flea on God's back. Engulfed in darkness, at first the only sound was the dreadful hiss of my own breathing, but after a certain formless period (minutes? weeks?) a tone emerged; hesitant, emotional, hysterical. It was the moon speaking to me; threatening me.
"Why are you here? You shouldn't be here. This is my space. MINE. Go away," the moon shrieked.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to come here. Last thing I know I was lying in bed at home. I think this is a dream," I stuttered. I had no idea if the moon could even hear me.
"If it's a dream then you'd better wake up," screamed the moon. "I HATE YOU!"
I drifted soundlessly towards the scarred surface of the moon. From a distance it all looked a dull whitish grey, but as I grew closer I saw gold and green and tiny veins of blue.
"I don't know if I can wake up," I confessed. "I'm not very good at that sort of thing.
"Oh, I can make you wake up. I'll WAKE YOU UP RIGHT NOW!" she bellowed.
And then I didn't wake up.
March 18th 2009
It was a nameless evening, and I left my room to wander the grounds. I walked down corridors and stairs and found myself alone in the palace gardens, lost among the courtyards and hedges. In the distance, a fictional string quartet played. I stared out at the city, dim and formless in the twilight. I saw spectral oaks and pines; a willow shrugged away the breeze. I looked over the darkening lawns and saw a green that can only ever be England. And I was overcome by a sad sense of my own failure: of self-pity and self-doubt mixed with a fading anger. Regret, of course. I fixed my gaze upon the willow, and traced the flickering leaves. Now that I do not know how to find beauty in men or women, I must find it instead in the spire of a church or in the curve of a leaf. It is little substitute. A small voice inside me tells me that it is never too late to change; to strip away this dead skin and find new life. But that voice grows dimmer with every passing hour. It is never too late. It is always too late.
I have moved from the past to the present. And now the sunlight dies away and I turn back towards the palace, its silhouette majestic against the pink sky. I never know how to say goodbye.
March 12th 2009
Owen Wilson sat next to me in a ditch at the end of Finsbury Park. We lounged beneath the shade of a beech tree as the last embers of the day faded to dusk. I swigged from a can of Becks and he discreetly injected heroin into his nose. The sky was darkening by the second, as was Owen's mood.
"I hate my life," he said.
I put my arm around him. "I know you do, buddy. I know."
He turned to me, his face weathered by shadows: "Where did it all go wrong?"
"Oh Owen. It's the comedies. What are you doing in these awful romantic comedies? Marley and Me? Seriously? It's not right. Or You, Me and Dupree... that was dreadful too. Stop doing those things."
"Really? You think so?"
"Owen, Owen, Owen..." I moaned, "You're not meant to be a romantic lead. Not in that sense. You're supposed to be a vain, kindhearted, narcissistic but well-meaning dreamer. A damaged hunk of flesh who crinkles his eyes towards the sun, knowing that he is doomed and that no good will come saving him. You were never meant to play a grown-up, just a fictional Salinger character, desperately trying to redeem himself. Your brother Luke... he's another matter. He can play a romantic lead. But he's just another man in a box."
"Are you sure? You've obviously given this a lot of thought."
"Yeah, I'm sure," I slapped him on the back. "I'm no expert, but I'm pretty certain that you're fucked up."
He started to cry and I held him until he fell asleep. Then I called the police.
I was walking home, up the steep, lonely hill. A small boy child was holding my hand. He might have been my nephew or he might have just been an unknown child who befriended me. I can't always tell.
I pointed up into the sky. The night was clear and sharp, a sweeping panorama in high definition.
"Do you know what that is?" I asked.
"It's the moon," he smiled.
"Yes, well done Jeremy," (I have no idea if his name was Jeremy, but it's a good name for a small boy. It's no name for a grown man).
"And do you know what is happening right now on the moon?" I enquired.
"No," he shook his head.
"Right now. At this very moment, they are performing Shakespeare on the moon." He gawped meaninglessly. "Do you know who Shakespeare was, Jeremy?"
"Well, Shakespeare was a man who lived a long time ago, before the dinosaurs ate the world, and he wrote a lot of special stories. Actually, nowadays a lot of people say that he didn't really write them and that other people penned them for him. But that's a lie. Anyway, Shakespeare wrote very interesting stories in an old, confusing language that you wouldn't understand."
Jeremy nodded sagely.
"And at this very second, America and French astronauts are on the moon, performing the entire works of Shakespeare. The Tempest. MacBeth. Romeo and Juliet. The one about the lonely horse. Hamlet. They can't hear each other as their radios are broken. They know that no-one on Earth is going to bring them home, but still they carry on."
"Wow indeed," I
said. "Now it's time for you to go home. Run along."
March 1st 2009
Apologies for my absence.
I was on secondment with the CIA. Not that CIA. The other one.
The Cambodian Inventors Association. It was all a bit pointless really,
given that I don't speak Khmer. They would simply show me a range of
inventions and I would shrug if it looked rubbish or put my thumb up
if I liked the look of it. It was a bit like Dragon's Den. Still, it
was a nice way of passing the time, and I got to eat a lot of rice.
February 15th 2008
Friday night in the underground station and a horde of squirrels teems out of the darkness of the tunnel and onto the tracks beside the platform. There are thousands of them, red, grey and green, forming a living blanket of rodents that foams and rushes and bubbles below me. It is impossible to keep track of the individual squirrels and they rise and tumble among themselves in the meaty swell.
Is this Tottenham Court Road? squeaks one squirrel, who is wearing a tiny fedora and is perching precariously on the back of a colleague, straining to stay afloat.
I look down at him, thinking about God and Moses and whether they have email addresses.
No. Its Holborn.
Lads! shrieks the squirrel. Were at the wrong station!
There is a collective groan
and with that, the squirming mass disappears back into the darkness.
February 13th 2008
I look down to find a dead swan tied to my leg. The swan has a broken neck. Or a very floppy neck. Im no swan expert.
What am I? Im a toad. Im a raisin. Im a chaffinch on fire. All this and more. I am a Sunday morning. I am Wellington boots with worn-down soles. I feel like chicken tonight.
Three pounds, three pence, says the mustachioed Indian man in the newsagent, desperate for my friendship - or for any human contact.
I never thought Id live to see the day when ten Marlboro Lights cost over three pounds, I say as a scrabble in my pockets for change.
Who says youre even alive now? he muses. You may well be dead and this is you dreaming in the afterlife.
A good point, well made, I reply.
See you later! he cheers as I stride out of the shop into the swirling rain. The swan is still tied to my leg. I will remove it when I get home. You can't remove a swan in a hurry.
I hide under the awning of an old coffee shop as the rain rattles remorseless down. The horizon is turned into a grey, blurred smog as a black cab speeds through a puddle, splashing the bearded man selling The Big Issue. I point and laugh at him and he scowls at me. There is a deep roll of thunder and the rain intensifies. The swan at my feet is grimy. There are cigarette butts collecting in its feathers.
Excuse me, says the oily brunette standing next to me. I think theres a swan stuck to your trousers.
I cant hear you!
I lie, and point skywards towards the clouds as the rat-a-tat- of the
rain grows louder. I mime incomprehension. She looks away. No human
contact for me today.
January 16th 2008
I get older. It's not something I try to do, it just happens. I'm not boasting.
As I get older, I ask myself different questions: "Where do I live?", "Why do onions give me so much trapped wind?", "How much is a pint of milk?", "Why do children wear such baggy trousers?"
But the question I ask myself more and more often is simply: "What is the meaning of life?"
I've always looked for the meaning of life. Mostly, I've done this by NOT looking for the meaning of life, and stumbling upon it by accident. Sometimes I've looked at the bottom of a beer glass, but all I find is dissolving froth.
The thing I have learnt is this: As I get older, I stop looking for the meaning of life in art, in books, films or dance. I have started looking for it instead in things far less exotic, but infinitely more tangible: family, the weather, money, sex. Basically, the things in front of me. Except for sex. That's mostly behind me.
January 12th 2008
I sat in Jenny's Burgers, idly stirring my tea. Sat beside me were Galileo and Copernicus. Both were tucking into their chips, bacon, beans and egg. I worried that they expected me to pay the bill at the end. I had deliberately only ordered tea as I was on a budget. Such things concern me.
"What's the meaning of life?" I asked, squinting into the spring sunshine.
"Dunno," said Copernicus.
"Mnuhsndh," said Galileo, shovelling egg into his mouth. He swallowed. "Egg's cold," he grunted.
Copericus smiled and arched his fingers together to demonstrate that he was contemplating an important issue.
"What you have to remember is that we've both been dead for many centuries. We're only here as a favour to Jesus. Normally we don't really do north London. And I'm afraid that we don't have much wisdom to pass on. Although I do think it's worth restating that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa."
"I already knew that," I slummed, sounding ungrateful.
Galileo flagged down the waitress, who was busy chatting to a eastern European builder.
"Bill please. He's paying," he pointed in my direction. I gritted my teeth and forced a smile.
"Basically," Galileo continued "if you're still famous, centuries after your death, you're doing ok. Don't worry too much about the meaning of life, but see if you can acheive some level of fame. I'm not talking about re-inventing the wheel, but perhaps you could get your own late-night improvised comedy slot on BBC3."
"They're going to cancel BBC3, I think," I said.
"Some things are beyond my control," he sighed. "I'll see what I can do, but I'm not promising anything.
January 11th 2008
Yesterday I wandered through Muswell Hill and stopped outside an art shop. There were posters and postcards and post-it notes. But it was not a post office. It was an art shop.
In the window there was a sign. It said "Framing service".
I entered the shop and approached the counter. A young man with sideburns smiled at me, indicating he was ready to serve me.
"You have a framing service. I'd like to frame someone for murder."
"Ha ha ha! We get that all the time. Very funny," he said.
"Will you do it?" I asked.
"Yeah, ok." he said, and I filled in the form.
January 1st 2008
When I was younger I managed an American hip-hop group made up of spring onions. They were called the Rapscallions.
They were a total failure, obviously.
December 15th 2007
In my sleep, I do exercise. As I lay there in bed, sweating and bereft of consciousness, I see myself jogging through a park. The park is deserted and there is no sound. Someone has pressed the mute button. I do press-ups and sit-ups. I compromise my dignity with an intense set of jumping jacks. I sprint hard, my feet pressing deep into soft turf. I can feel my lungs burn as my legs turn to pistons and pump me faster and faster. My feet almost leave the ground. My body is taut, tight and toned.
I wake up exhausted, but sadly still unfit. I roll over, my stomach wobbling the the darkness.
December 10th 2007
In the past I have written about my time with Robbie Williams. Now I feel I should set the record straight and include some of my thoughts on his erstwhile Take That colleague, Gary Barlow.
All of us are part Williams, part Barlow, just as we are all part hare and part tortoise. Even Robbie Williams is part Gary Barlow, and Gary Barlow is part Robbie Williams. No man is all one thing, despite philosphers arguing to the contrary. Gary Barlow accepts himself. He accepts that for him to succeed, Robbie Williams must fail, just as Robbie accepts that his own fate is inextricably intertwined with that of Gary Barlow. There is not room at the top of the tree for both of them.
What is Gary Barlow? Gary Barlow is the plodding village policeman who eventually solves the crime. He is the journeyman midfielder who finds his team unexpectedly heading for glory. He is the slow, steady path that leads to peaks shrouded in clouds.
Strangers often ask me who will win in the end, Barlow or Williams? I smile and explain that there is no end, only a constant ebb and flow. History does not have a final chapter, only a summary of events so far.
April 10th 2007
What is an otter? What is a badger? What is a vole? Are they mammals? Are they amphibians? Are they concepts?
No. They are not concepts. I'm pretty sure they are animals of some sort. I have come to resent animals. When I was young I projected all sorts of emotions onto animals. I don't mean this figuratively - I really did it. I captured animals from the back garden and set up a slide projector. Then I wrote words like 'happiness', 'despair' and 'disgust' on the blank slides and projected the words onto the animals. It was an entirely pointless exercise and as such, probably my greatest artistic triumph. Even as a child I knew that I was different, and that God had chosen a different path for me. All my childhood contemporaries listened to jazz and be-bop but I knew that such superficial delights were not for me. I listened only to static and silence. It was boring, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Anyway. Animals. Animals are useless. They can hardly speak at all, and none of them contribute anything to the economy. And yet they are loved in a way that I will never be loved. Life can be cruel. Life can be many things, from dustpans to vestibules. In essence, life is absurd, which is frustrating, because absurdity is silly, and silliness is bad. How can I be a true artist when silly things exist?
I sometimes feed the cats in the garden. They never say thank you, and they never stay to chat.
April 7th 2007
Natasha Bedingfield came round for tea. She brought a bottle of Greek white wine. Some people never learn.
We played chess for a while (I hadn't played since Jesus disappeared) but she has the annoying habit of saying "Checkmate!" after every move.
"We've just begun the game. You've moved a pawn into the centre of the board. It's not checkmate," I explained.
"Checkmate!" she yelled.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," I said. "You spoil everything. You're a nice girl. You're pretty, you can hold a tune and you have big white teeth. Don't throw away your future by saying 'Checkmate' all the time."
"Checkmate!" she giggled, hiding her face in her hands like a naughty schoolgirl. It's ridiculous. She's nearly 40, for God' sake.
"And another thing," I continued. "In your hit song Words, you use the word 'hyperbole'. But instead of pronouncing it as 'hyper-bowly' you say 'hyperbowl'. That is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace! I bet Bjork knows how to pronounce 'hyperbole' and she's from Iceland. "
"Checkmate! Front bottom!" Natasha laughed gleefully, pouring the wine over her head.
I had to give her a bath and a fresh tracksuit for her to wear. I incinerated her old clothes in the microwave. I do have some sympathy for her. Her brother is Daniel Bedingfield, and it must be hard to live in his shadow.
Natasha Bedingfield, with the body of a car.
April 2nd 2007
It was an afternoon. I wandered through the park in pungent sunshine, oblivious to the families and the men walking dogs. My fingers were frayed. I settled down in the shade of a tree, the blossom filtering out the sunshine.
After a minute of so, two crows landed beside me. I kept still so as not to disturb them. They pecked around me aimlessly, their inky black bodies losing themselves in the shadows.
Then one of the crows spoke: "Listened to anything good recently?"
I remained quiet, and after a moment the other crow spoke up: "I quite like Feist. And I'm looking forward to the new White Stripes album. But I've got to say I'm disappointed in the new Arctic Monkeys. The sound is great, but where are the tunes? There's nothing on there that matches Dancefloor. What about you?"
"I'm still lovin' the Klaxons," it crowed. "And that LCD Soundsystem single is great. Really punchy. Spirit of punk, and all that."
After a minute or so I stood up and walked away. I hadn't understood a word they were talking about.
March 25th 2007
How easy is it to murder someone? It's a question often asked on television and on cereal packets.
The theory should be harder than the reality. The natural situation should be that whilst in theory it is easy to murder someone, the reality brings with it all sorts of moral and ethical problems. This is not the case.
Murder is, in theory, difficult. Aside from practical issues, there's the moral enormity of snuffing out a life, of making it so that an individual ceases to be. This is because in theory, you are not killing a specific person, but every man. In killing, you are murdering your own humanity. You are taking a life and crossing a threshold. You are no longer a human being but a murderer, with all that implies.
In reality murder is much easier. Because you are not killing every man; you are not snuffing out some universal symbol of mankind, you are just killing one measly, paltry human being. Think of someone you know: a real loser, someone who is slow on the uptake and never gets your jokes, someone who is flawed in the way that ordinary people are flawed. Fat, stupid, racist. A terrible bowl haircut. Think of this person's name. Roll it around your head for a few moments. Would it really be so terrible to kill them? Are their hopes and dreams so extraordinary that they would really be missed? No. Not at all. Imagine killing a man called Mike? Is that a crime. Do men called Mike truly deserve to live? Or a woman called Hazel? Do people called Hazel really have souls? I doubt it very much. I doubt that they have secret lives. I doubt that they contribute much to their own existences, let alone the lives of others.
That's the difference between theory and reality. Fortunately, I am a kind old man and have no urge to murder. And I'd advise the rest of you not to kill anyone, even if they have bad breath or endlessly listen to the Scissor Sisters. We are not Gods, after all.
There. That should throw the police off my scent.
March 13th 2007
Two men sat at the bar in a pub. One man was tall and blonde, and the other was short and dark. In front of them sat matching pints of lager and a ruptured bag of salt and vinegar crisps.
"I was once cursed by an old gypsy woman," said the tall, blonde man, poking his glasses back into place. "She took an instant dislike to me and hexed me."
"What happened?" asked the darker man.
"She cursed me so that I would never be able to find my way home." he supped his beer. "And it's true. It's metaphorical, or psychological or whatever, but it's true. When I'm lying in bed at night I feel totally lost, and I know that no matter how hard I try I won't be able to get back to where I once was."
"Hmmm," hummed the shorter man. "It's funny you should say that. I was also cursed by an old gypsy woman."
"What did she do to you?"
"She cursed me so that I would always find my way back home. And it's also true. No matter where I go, I can feel home calling me back."
"Is that a curse?" mused blondie. "It seems more like a blessing."
"No. It's definitely a curse."
March 5th 2007
I awoke groggy, in a different room. Memories and smells collided. My head hurt and the world spun between the cracks of my half-open eyes. I tossed aside the covers to my bed and looked around. The room was an eclectic mix of baroque furniture and colourful retro-futurist junk. I wandered over to the window and pulled aside the net curtain, letting in blazing sunshine.
I found myself confronted by a strange view. Before me lay the oddest village I had ever seen. In the distance were spindly spires and painted citadels, and in the foreground was a bowling green, occupied by a number of fat men in stripey jumpers. The penny (farthing) dropped. I had been kidnapped and relocated in The Village, the nameless backdrop of The Prisoner, the classic Patrick McGoohan television series of the 1960s. Ordinary men would have been shocked at this turn of events, but I am no ordinary man, and for me the mingling of past and present, fact and fiction, is an everyday occurrence.
Dressing myself in my cordoroy troushers, dark polo neck and black jacket with white piping trim, I stepped outside and walked down to the village café, deserted except for a black cat picking at the discarded remains of a ham sandwich. I confronted the middle-aged waitress, my eyes stern as an Irishman.
"Take me to number two," I demanded.
"What?" she said.
"Take me to number two," I repeated.
"You need to do a number two? The
toilets for paying customers only," she mused.
"What are you on about?" she appeared genuinely puzzled. "What's your name?"
"I don't have a name. I'm a number. I need to speak to number 2."
She stared blankly at me, a note of pity in her eyes. She turned her back on me and walked back into the café, muttering under her breath about Care in the Community. This was useless. I needed to find out more. I walked away from the café and sprinted down through verdant lanes before puffing my way up the hill towards the Town Hall.
The Town Hall was an elegant Georgian building, framed by large arches and imposing stone columns. I barged through the main doors, rushed over to the receptionist and demanded to speak to whoever was in charge. There was a hush of whispers as she consulted a colleague, and then I was ushered into the vast central room. In the middle of the room, sat behind a mahogany desk was a large, balding, goateed man. He was wearing a crisply-cut dark suit and his neck was hidden by the kind of multicoloured wool scarf normally associated with Tom Baker.
"Are you number 2?" I demanded, beads of sweat forming on my brow.
"No. I'm David Hills. I'm the mayor of the village. You're causing quite a scene here. My receptionist was most alarmed. What do you want? What's your name?"
"I don't have a name. I'm the new number 6," I informed him.
"Don't be ridiculous. Everyone has a name," he pulled out a notepad and scribbled deftly in the margins.
"No! You don't understand!" I shook my fists in frustration. "This is the Village, isn't it? You've kidnapped me, haven't you? I'm here so that you can break me and get information."
"Look here young man," snorted the mayor. "I don't know what you're on about. This is a quiet village, and we don't want any trouble. We certainly don't want information and we haven't kidnapped you."
"Oh come on! I'm stuck here. I'm playing my part, why can't you play yours? You're supposed to degrade and dehumanize me, desperately trying to get inside my head so you can worm out information! This is supposed to be an iron battle of wills."
"If you don't calm yourself I'm calling the police," said the Mayor bluntly.
"That's more like it!" I grinned. "I don't suppose there's much point in me trying to escape, is there. I could run along the beach but one of those giant white balls would only incapacitate me."
"What on Earth are you on about? Giant white balls! Why in God's name would I try to incapactate you with a giant white ball? I'm calling the police because you're clearly deluded and you're wasting my time. Kidnapping? How ridiculous. The local paper will have a field day with this! You're free to leave here whenever you want. Trains leave from here every 20 minutes. You can be in Bristol in half an hour," he rummaged in his desk and pulled out a laminated train timetable, waving it in my face.
"This is ridiculous!" I pleaded. "I'm the Prisoner. You can't just let me go. You're supposed to file and stamp me and then try to get inside my mind and discover why I quit"
"I have no interest whatsoever what is in your mind. If I want information, I use Google. Now, please leave before I really do call the police. And whoever you are, I'd advise you to seek professional help."
I wandered dejectedly out of the Town Hall and sat on the village green, watching old men play chess in berets, thinking out loud: "This isn't over. Oh no. They have more tricks up their sleeve."
No-one ever wants to take me prisoner. It's not fair.
February 22nd 2007
There is no money to be made from kidnapping cats and dressing them up as 30's gangsters, with fat ties, spats and fedoras. I found this out the hard way.
February 22nd 2007
In the middle of the night I woke up. There was no birdsong, there were no sirens. There was just me, my clothes discarded on the floor, a paperback sliding down the back of my bed beside an ashtray full of unsmokable butts. And my books. In rows on bookshelves, in no order save my own. Those damned books. How I resent those books.
I brushed my teeth and piled all the books novels, biographies, paperbacks, joke compendiums into a bin bag. I found an old tin of petrol, the logo decaying in rust. I slung the bag over my shoulder and left the house in my pyjamas. My teeth chattered in the blackness. I walked down to the dump, staring down at my slippers, illuminated by the streetlights and the moon. The bag was heavy and the black plastic strained and groaned. I could feel the sharp corner of a hardback sci-fi anthology poking into the small of my back.
The dump was unguarded, as always. I tramped across gravel and moss and emptied the books into a huge pile and poured the petrol on top. I fumbled with my lighter, sparked the flames and walked back a few feet. In seconds the pile was burning, the flames licking up, sparks dissipating into the sjyline, the smoke burning my eyes. I stood back and watched, warming my hands as Id seen others do in films before me. All those books. All those flames. Pages curling and blackening before floating up up into the ether. It was a marvellous sight, all those ideas disappearing. As the bonfire grew and my faced glowed orange in reflection, I felt the most wonderful sense of freedom, of casting off the shackles of possession. It was as though all the collected words in the books were burdens erased from inside me. I felt free. For a few seconds it was heaven.
I stood and watched. The flames died down and I got bored and self-conscious in my pyjamas and my present. Then I went home. It was cold and the night was turning to morning. I walked back down, hugging the shadows and muttering under my breath. At home I put the kettle on and inspected the ashtray in hopeless greed.
I wanted something to read but the house was empty. I had been a fool. I regretted burning the books.
February 1st 2007
Moses walked up to the top of Mount Sinai.
It was early. He hadn't slept well and he was tired and irritable. There
was a stone in his sandle that had been digging into his foot since daybreak.He
wondered how God would appear to him today. The last time he had appeared
as a burning bush, which was nice enough, if a bit clichéd. He
hoped it wouldn't be a bush again. No-one likes seeing the same trick
And with that, God vanished, leaving behind
a heavy smell of musk.
December 21 2006
It has come to my attention that there is a book on sale that purports to be about my life. I've seen it on the internet, although fortunately none of my local bookstores stock it. I suspect that if I saw I copy I would tear it up in an instant.
December 18 2006
If the year is a long patch of mossy ground, then December is the cliff where it ends. Soon, we shall plummet headlong off the cliff into the turbulent sea that is New Year. Some of us will be dashed against the jagged rocks that are Christmas. Do you like my metaphors? I bought them in a pound shop.
So, now is a time for reflection. For gazing into a mirror and trying to detect moles and wrinkles and other tell-tale signs of ageing. Many of us will resort to the surgeon's knife and have plastic surgery in the coming year. I cannot blame any of you. Although I'd avoid the surgeons who advertising on the internet. I've seen a lot of women this year with lopsided breasts. It's a source of some misery.
A woman with lopsided breasts.
I wish I could tell you that I am older and wiser than this time last year. Theoretically, even if I am not wiser, I should at least be older. But even that I cannot guarantee. I have a nasty habit of travelling backwards in time. It is entirely possible that I am younger now than I was a year ago.
December 16 2006
Seasons come and go like aubergines. Times unfurls itself. Past live flicker before me; it is both sublime and very, very dull.
I awoke to find someone had slipped a note beneath my door. It wasn't actually a note, it was a flyer for a kebab shop, but on it was scrawled a message.
"I like your voice," it read.
So, it seems I have a stalker. Or the kebab shop is trying new ways of enticing customers. Either way it spells trouble. I don't want a stalker. If people are obsessed with me they can send me money. Money! Yes! Money! I am not so spiritual that I will not accept cash (Pounds or Euros). But I will not accept another stalker. Stalking is the lowest form of flattery.
December 15 2006
I have been away. For a long long time. I locked myself in a bathroom by mistake. I've been surviving on tapwater and shaving foam. It was only this morning I remembered that the bathroom door is a slider, not a pull/pusher. I am the punchline in a Benny Hill sketch.
Soon I will be away again. But right now I am here. It's an existential nightmare.
In ten days it is Jesus's birthday. I won't be getting him anything. What has he done lately? Nothing.
December 25 2005
I saw Jesus today. We passed each other in the street and stopped and chatted. He's doing much better at the moment; he seems a lot happier. I think he has a girlfriend.
I am still living in the future, but the present is catching up. Soon the present will overtake me and I will find myself living in the past.
December 9 2005
Here I am, over three weeks into the future. It's amazing. Don't say I didn't warn you. The sky is filled with silver cubes that radiate heat and love. Japan is now the capital of the Interplanetary Republic and the World Snooker Champion is a twelve-year-old girl from Monaco. It's a different place from my youth, I can tell you that.
And yet... am I happy? No. Of course not. Times may change but some things are eternal.
December 7 2005
I awoke in darkness. I could sense movement. I appeared to in the back of a truck.
I banged on the sides on the truck. They boomed with the empty echo of cheap metal. I shouted and hollered, "Let me out!"
The truck slowed to a halt. I could hear chains rattling and the sound of a key entering a lock and turning. Then I was blinded by bright sunlight.
A moustachioed man in overalls peered at me. His hair was shaggy, black and greasy. He looked like a hispanic mechanic. "Pero que haces aqui en mi camion?" he said.
I stepped out of the truck and looked around. I was on a thin mountain rock twisting around snowy, foggy peaks. Aside from the man with the moustache, I was alone. We stared at each other for a while. He seemed more scared of me than I was of him, which was comforting.
"Where am I?" I asked.
"Que dices?" said Mr Moustache. He clearly didn't understand me.
"Um... hablas ingles?" I asked, remembering the basics of my GCSE Spanish.
"No, no!" he shook his head. "I no speak Inglish. Solamente Castellano."
"Um... donde estamos? Where are we?"
"En las afueras de Lima."
"Shitto," I said. I was in Peru. I don't know how I got there. My head was sore and my memories eluded me, but the last thing I recalled was sitting at home in north London, filling in a Lottery coupon.
I shrugged and looked again at the mechanic. He was obviously of no use to me, but I asked him for a lift to the nearest town. Then I hitched a ride. And I have been hitching ever since. Let me tell you this: hitching from Lima in Peru to north London is not easy. That is why I have been away for so long. I have only just returned home. Actually, most of the journey went smoothly. It only took me a couple of weeks to get from Peru to south London. But the trip from South London to Wood Green has taken me months.
Still, here I am. Some of you may notice that the date of this entry is December 7th. Yes, it is true. The rest of you are still in November 2005, but I am already a month ahead. I am living in the future.
"What is the future like?" I hear you say.
"Pretty fucking impressive," is my reply. Just wait until December 3, and you'll see. Everything is going to change.
Dear readers. Do not fear. The journal is not dead. It is merely resting.
Why? Because I have suffered a bizarre series of events that would take me many years to recount. I have been in constant battle with the Un-Dead. You would not believe the trials that have beset me, both in Albion and on foreign shores.
Soon, the whole world will know my story, but for now, I must beg for your continued patience.
I have been asleep for a month. It wasn't intentional. I am not even sure I was always asleep - I have distinct memories of making cups of coffee and urinating and watching football on TV.
I had strange, lucid dreams.
In my dreams, there were a number of famous authors and they were berating me for the lack of narrative authority in my life. They said that I was a weak character, poorly sketched; that I lacked ontological credibility and was buffetted too easily by circumstance. They explained that character was forged by plot, by the pressures and decisions made by a protagonist and they raged that my lack of decisions rendered me impotent and insipid.
Camus sat at my bedside and smiled: "Look at you! Look at me! I am flesh and blood. I live, I judge and I am judged. Look at yourself, you cling to your bourgeoise dream of respectability but simultaneously loathe yourself for worshipping authorities and institutions that you know are corrupt. You are so human in your failings, and yet you are hardly alive."
I stirred and murmured, "... it's not my fault... I try, I try... I live in a difficult age... everything is changing..."
"Non! Merde!" he exclaimed, "No excuses! No delays or extenuating circumstances. You can no longer avoid your sentencing. You must be judged. You will leave and mark on this world whether you like it or not. You can no longer pretend to be invisible. You are not a pond skater, you are not a moth. You are a man, of sorts. Look at your soul. Why would anyone want to read your story? Where is the sublime? Where is the ridiculous? Where is the instinct? You are merely a cobbled-together set of cliches and camouflage"
I didn't want to listen any more. For better or for worse, Camus is dead and dead authors should not berate me as I sleep. My eyes opened, although I still felt so terriby weary.
Aprils Fools Day!
God played a trick on me! He made me think I was going somewhere. I was of course, actually going nowhere.
March 20 2005
I opened the door to find a giant worm on my doorstep. It was wearing a blue porkpie hat.
"Are you worried about the state of the world?" said the giant worm. "Do you think that the country is getting worse and that there is less love and spiritual understanding around you?"
"You're a giant worm," I said.
"Yes... you're right of course. I AM a giant worm. But let's not get stuck on that. I'd really rather talk to you about the state of the world. Tell me... are you a religious man?"
"So... wait a minute... if I cut you in two, do you become two seperate worms?" I asked.
"Well, yes... I suppose I would. But I'd rather talk to you about Jesus. Do you think that the love of Jesus touches your life?"
"Hang on a second," I said. "I am going to get a knife."
(a giant worm)
March 17 2005
They say that the universe is expanding. This may be true, but my world is shrinking. It gets smaller by the day. My world now consists of a small patch of north London. My journey from the bedroom to the kitchen is like a trip into town. A walk down the road to the shops is like a day in the countryside. South London is a different planet... I dream of it. I fear it. I hear legends and rumours of other places... Watford, Liverpool, Cornwall, Hove... but these places remain unreal, intangible. A voyage than does not involve tube stations is a laughable folly... one might fall off the side of the world.
I don't know when my world began to shrink. I only hope it does not get too much smaller.
March 14 2005
There are four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.
There were four Marx Brothers: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo.
But... there was a fifth Marx Brother, called Gummo. He appeared with the other Brothers on the stage, but stopped performing before they became international film stars. He ended up being a dress salesman, and then a showbiz agent. His role makes me wonder if perhaps there was a fifth, forgotten Horseman of the Apocalypse. Maybe he didn't make the grade. Maybe his heart just wasn't in it. Maybe he was Sloth. Or Boredom. Maybe he rode a pony, instead of a proper horse.
I send my love to forgotten brothers.
March 10 2005
Two days ago it was winter. Now it is summer. England is strange like that.
I had the misfortune to find myself walking through Hoxton and Dalston. The weather was affecting people strangely. The traffic was backed up all along Old Street and men in lorries sweated and swore at each other. Hip Hop and folk music blared from cafes that were disguised as industrial warehouses.
I heard shouting and saw that a group of bearded young men - possible some kind of avant-garde web art collective - were nailing a businessman to cross for being unfashionable. The young men were wearing suit jackets and trainers and were berating the businessman for his brogues.
I was tempted to intervene and try to save the man, but I was not particularly fashionably dressed myself, and the fear caught me cold.
March 5 2005
Sometimes I have tea with Richard Briers. He's nice. He reminds me of an England that does not exist anymore; that is, an England that I have lost.
He has delusions about his stature in Hollywood. He kvetches about roles he should have gotten. He is quite mad, but his madness is comforting.
"Neo in The Matrix. That could have been me. I'd have nailed that part," he says.
"Neo is young. He's goodlooking. He knows Kung Fu. You'd never have gotten that part," I contribute.
"I know Kung Fu," says Richard archly. "And besides... what is age? Age brings gravitas. I'd have brought pathos and humanity to Neo. But they go for a prettyboy like Keanu. I can't say it surprises me."
He doesn't stop there: "Taxi Driver. That should have been me. I tried to speak to Scorsese before the movie. I lived like Travis Bickle. I was Travis. I could have done it."
"Richard. It wasn't you. You're middle-aged. You're British. You're a sitcom star. You're not De Niro," I shrug.
"Maybe. But De Niro is no fucking Richard Briers."
There are things that must be said. But I don't know what they are.
Or perhaps I am being disingenuous with myself. Perhaps I know what must be said, but I don't want to say it. Language and narrative have never come easy. Decisions cost me more than money.
February 28 2005
About ten years ago I wrote a sitcom. Don't worry, you won't have heard of it - it never reached the TV screens. The show was called "Me and My God" and was about a twentysomething Northern lass called Lisa who moves down to London in search of fame and fortune. As it happens, she ends up sharing a flat in Willesden with God. The sitcom plots Lisa's trials and tribulations, as she applies for jobs, meets a variety of unsuitable men, and goes drinking with friends. It also dealt with God's eternal struggle with Satan and his attempts to maintain global religions. As the series progressed, there was a lot of sexual tension between Lisa and God, but both characters know their romance will be doomed because she's a sassy girl from Manchester, and he's an all-powerful omniscient deity.
At the same time, Channel 4 were producing a series at the same time, called "The God Squad", which was about a team of undercover policemen in London, fighting crime and international terrorism. The gimmick was that one of the policemen was secretly God, and had to outwit criminals without tipping off his colleagues as to his real identity. Anyway, with "God Squad" due to hit the screens, the TV execs decided that there were too many God-related TV programmes and canned "Me and My God".
Which was a shame.
February 25 2005
A young man was sitting at the bus-stop. He had shaggy black hair flopping down over his eyes, and wore his sideburns long and unkempt. His ears were pierced with think hoops and he wore a faded leather jacket. He smoked roll-ups and was reading a battered copy of "No Logo" by Naomi Klein.
I paused. We were both sheltering from the sleet.
"You're counter-culture, no?" I said.
"What?" he looked up, alarmed.
"You... you're the counter-culture. You hate corporations and politicians and bands that sell-out. You watch arthouse films and take drugs. You travel to Berlin and Barcelona and Edinburgh and Sao Paolo. You are trying to reinvent the wheel. No?"
"Jesus.... leave me alone. You don't know me," he said.
"Maybe. But I am the opposite of you. I am not counter-culture." The sleet was beginning to fade, and the sun was poking shyly from behind a grey cloud.
"What?" he smirked sarcastically, "You're counter-counter-culture."
"No. I am just culture," I said.
"No you're not," he spat at me. His eyes were burning with anger. "You're no culture at all."
February 20 2005
My neighbourhood, like most neighbourhoods, is populated by characters. Some of the characters are self-conscious "characters". They corner me in pubs and spin tales about terrorists or gangsters. They vainly build implausable myths around their own eccentricities. They are desperate to be memorable, but are mostly forgettable.
But most of the local characters are unaware. They do not sense that they are slightly out of sync with society. And maybe they aren't. Maybe it's me who is out of sync.
Character 1: is the manwoman. I see her quite often on the bus and in the local newsagent. She is, I think, a woman. But she could be a man. She has a wide face and a man's jaw. She has wavy, peroxide-blonde hair and wears a sheepskin jacket. She often wears leggings or tracksuit bottoms that she tucks into her boots. She always smiles. I think it is her smile, and not her bizarre appearance, that makes her a character. She has a naked smile that she shines at everyone, whether male or female, young or old. It is a plainly flirty smile, and causes many people to look away. She stares at me on the bus. But she stares at everyone.
Character 2: is Mr Moustache. He is a middle-aged man with an enormous moustache. That's it. That's his gimmick. It's enough. It distinguishes him from every other pensioner in north London. He is an anachronism. He seems to have been teleported into my life from a Michael Powell film.
February 13 2005
Good news! Armageddon has been postponed by a year. I wonder what I shall do with the extra time. I will probably sleep.
February 12 2005
Today is my birthday. Happy birthday me.
Every birthday I perform the same ritual. When I was young, my mother gave me a book of excuses. And every year, on this special day, I tear out one of the excuses and throw it in a lake.
February 10 2005
Today was one of my prison visits. Prisoners often need someone wise and fatherly to talk to. Obviously that's not me, but I do what I can. I often talk to a prisoner called Ed Murphy. ("Please don't call me Eddie. I am not Eddie Murphy.") He's an interesting, unsavoury character.
Ed looked unhappy today. I tried to cheer him up by wearing a red hat.
"It was always my dream to be a serial sex killer," he said, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve.
"My father was a serial sex killer, and his father before him. It's something of a family tradition. But I've never been very good at it. Oh... I was ok at the killing bit. Murder is easy enough. It's quite final, is death. You kill someone and that's it. No criticism, no guilty glances, no post-coital emptiness. But the sex... I was never any good at that. I tried raping women, but I could never escape my eagerness to please. Instead of brutally holding them down, I'd start kissing their neck and telling them how sweet they were. I really wanted them to like me. And I was always too concerned that they'd orgasm. Once I'd tied them up, I'd end up spending hours on their erogenous zones, trying desperately to tease them to new heights of ecstasy. And then I'd ask them 'was that good for you? Did you enjoy it?' But they'd just sob and cry and beg me to stop. It made me feel terrible. Rapists aren't supposed to be like that. It's a terrible thing to crave approval."
There's not a lot I can say to Ed. He was born into the wrong family.
February 7 2005
This afternoon I had the Manic Street Preachers round for afternoon tea. They were all dressed as wombles. I don't know why. They said it was something to do with socialism.
"I am Uncle Bulgaria," said Nicky Wire.
"I am Orinoco," said the lead singer James, obviously sweating and uncomfortable in his womble suit.
Sean, the drummer didn't say anything. He just piled scones onto his plate and methodically buttered and ate them.
They looked tired and listless. They had slogans saying "Art funk death squad" and "Lilac buttercup democracy" sprayed on their womble suits. They spoke seldom but sometimes whispered among themselves. They declined my offer of cider.
We sat there in silence: a short man in faded jeans and three fallen rockstars dressed as popular childrens TV characters of yesteryear. It was poignant, except for the total lack of poignancy.
They limped out of the house into the pouring rain, looking like old warhorses who are begging to be put out of their misery.
(James Dean Bradfield)
February 4 2005
I walked into the pub in a hurry, and pushed my way past an old Scotsman at the bar. The barman eyed me suspiciously
"Oi! Mate! Where do you think you're going?" hollered the barman. He was middle-aged and had a shaved head. He thought he looked threatening, but his tight T-beige shirt made him look like a butch queen.
"I need to loo," I said.
"You've seen the sign. Customers only. You can only use the toilets if you're buying a drink," he pointed to the sign above the door.
I walked towards him, my bladder twisting in pain. I calmly ordered a half of Guinness and handed over my money. Then I turned towards the toilets.
"Excuse me mate," he sighed "Don't tell me you aren't drinking your Guinness."
"No. I don't want it. I just need the loo. I've paid you...give it to someone else if you want."
He took a deep breath and stared at me. "You're not using the loo until you've drunk your half," he said.
I reluctantly decided to play his game. I ignored the burning sensation and squeezed my legs together. I downed the booze, licked my lips and turned towards the loo.
"Excuse me mate, would you like to engage in some casual, non-specific banter about football?" he asked, chuckling.
"Not really," I murmured. A dark stain was forming on my crotch.
February 3 2005
When I was a child I spoke as a child;
In recent weeks I have been visited by the ghost of Winston Churchill. He is not the man you would imagine him to be. In life, he was portly and stout, but since dying he has lost weight and looks young and trim. He always wears a red adidas tracksuit with white stripes down the sides. He smokes Marlboros and laughs at anything he sees on TV.
Death has a peculiar effect on some people. It's as if they had banked everything on death being the end; on there being no afterlife. And in death, they resent this lack of finality. The simmer in anger that an embarrassing epilogue has been tagged to the end of their story. They mooch and joke and point out the absurdity of existence. They recant their philosophies and doctrines and tell fart jokes.
Churchill is bad company. He swears and exposes himself to me. I don't really mind. I've been lonely lately, and he's still Churchill. I'm not naive... I know he's a slut. He doesn't just haunt me... he gets around. But I am not the jealous type.
January 30 2005
I was waiting for the 102 bus in Muswell Hill. It was late and I was hurriedly smoking a Marlboro Light and coughing to myself. There was a woman sitting next to me; she was brunette, and was wearing a colourful scarf. I couldn't tell describe her in any more detail because I rarely look at strangers.
"Hello," she said.
I looked around, confused. Was she talking to me? Women rarely talk to single men at bus stops, particularly at night.
"I have something you don't," she said. She was definitely talking to me.
"Oh really. What do you have that I don't?" I asked.
"A vagina," she said, giggling.
I nodded soberly. There was no point in disagreeing.
January 23 2005
Today I filled up the kettle. I waited for it to boil, and then I poured the hot water down the sink. I did this again, about 30 times during the day.
Why? Because I like wasting energy.
January 21 2005
When I was younger, I used to go sailing a lot. I once sailed around Britain on a raft made of solid steel. On the first day of sailing, it sunk to the bottom of the sea. However, I was not deterred and continued pushing the raft along the seabed, tracing my way around the icy contours of Britain. It was during this time that I learnt to communicate with all marine life.
However, it should be noted that just because I can communicate with sea life does not mean fishes/whales/eels actually obey me. They mostly ignore me, although they are happy enough to give me directions.
January 17 2005
The doctors say there is nothing wrong with me. I think there is something wrong with the doctors.
January 15 2005
Women have always know that there is something unwholesome about me. They understand that I am charming but defective and will let them down when it came to the crunch. When they touch me, they recoil, having sensed something hollow, like an old, cracked bell. It is unspoken conversation, but quite loud nonetheless.
Maybe it is because I am cheap. I buy the least expensive meat in the supermarket. I pick up the CD that is scratched. I marry the girl with the wonky eyes. I avoid tall, confident people - the types with perfect hair and teeth. I surround myself with invalids and worriers, people who are busy pulling themselves apart. I refuse to invest in life - I refuse to gamble unless I know I will lose. My emotional existence is a false economy.
I am short, and therefore I have learned to aim low. Life is a long lesson in walking down the path of least resistance, and self-pity is a wonderfully comfortable embrace.
January 11 2005
Today was National Del Amitri Day. The country stood still as men and women of all ages paid tribute to the Scottish pop-rockers of the mid-90s. Children wore velcro sideburns. At midday the church bells rang out with the opening chords of "Always the Last to Know".
I flicked the channels on my television. On BBC1, ITV and Channel 4, they were showing Tony Blair's speech, live from Westminster. BBC2 was showing a cookery show and Channel 5 was showing a documentary about Jordan learning how to pole vault.
The Prime Minister addressed the Commons in an open, democratic stance. His face looked tight and fresh and his hair looked uncommonly blonde and thin under the television lights. As he spoke, he gestured with his hands like an excitable marionette.
"...and so today, as a Nation, we remember Del Amitri. We stop and think how Justin Currie Iain Harvie and Iain Harvie affected us. We appreciate the democratic womb that bore them. Could any other nation have crafted this band? I don't think so. They were at once both universal and personal. They touched everyone, and yet everyone affected by their music felt that it was a personal gift - their songs were not statements; they were invitations to dialogue.
Their songs were crafted with sweat, guile and integrity. This was a band without pretension. They did not yearn for the empty stadium anthems of U2, nor did they dabble with the fickle retro fashion of Oasis. This was a band that understood the brave, simple immediacy of music. Everyone can hum the opening chords of "Nothing Ever Happens" and everyone can understand the simple lyrical conceit of "Driving With The Brakes On"...
I lost concentration as Mr Blair spoke. Outside, a sparrow was making heavy work of dragging a worm along the windowsill. I could hear a train rumbling in the distance.
Del Amitri. I suppose I do like them.
January 7 2005
I can never quite believe the softness of a woman's body. I prod my finger into a breast or a leg and the tip disappears into a pool of flesh. It's so unlike the architecture of a man's body. Someone once said that the straight line belongs to man, but the curve belongs to God. Well, it seems God designed women and gave the job of designing men to a mere mortal. And just as I fail to comprehend God, so I can never quite comprehend the strange aesthetic of a woman's body. Some things can be accepted, but never quite understood.
January 4 2005
There is no such thing as reincarnation. It doesn't exist. I don't believe in it.
I believe in the "photocopy principle". That is to say... when a person dies, there soul does not disappear, but travels across space (and time) and inhabits a newborn child. But it is not a fresh, new soul. It's an inferior version of the soul that previously existed. And just like a photocopy, the more times a soul is replicated and recycled, the poorer its quality. Eventually the quality of a soul degrades to the degree where it is no longer functional (this may take thousands of years) and it is finally discarded and replaced with a new soul.
This is why some people seem barely alive; they are tired, jaded and despondant, despite the fact that they are young and healthy. They simply have a poor quality hand-me-down soul. Whereas those frustrating individuals who take life in their stride and appear happy and well-adjusted are the lucky recipients of freshly minted souls.
The allocation of souls is not based on merit; it's just a question of luck. Hey, I don't make the rules up.
All I do is smoke cigarettes and stare out of windows.
It's a living.
December 31 2004
Another year draws to a close. Soon it will be 1985.
I predict that Michael J Fox will rise to new levels of popularity this year and that Robert Redford and Meryl Streep will star in a film about Karen Blixen entitled "Outside Africa". Clive Sinclair will also have an extraordinary year and will revolutionise personal transport with his latest invention. The Smiths will hit new heights of atonal giddy misery. And don't worry... the miner's stike will end in March.
December 25 2004
It is Christmas! I am celebrating by mentally freeing thousands of political prisoners around the world. I shall transmit my cheery festive thoughts to dictators and oligarchs across the globe, and they will spontaneously open the doors of their jails. Truly, it will be a sight to behold. If it works. If it doesn't work... well, I am only human (according to Dr Delfino).
December 22 2004
Jesus was sitting in my front room, trying to play Stairway to Heaven on an acoustic guitar.
"It'll be Christmas soon," I said.
"Yeah," he said excitedly.
"Do you know what you're getting from your dad?" I asked.
"Yeah. Life everlasting," he said.
"Sounds good," I said.
December 17 2004
As everyone knows, Crouch End is famous for its serial killers, paedophiles and masked rapists.
Probably the most famous serial killer to come out of Crouch End was Miles Mason, who was known as "The Organic Butcher" by the press. Between 1995 and 2001, Mason killed and ate seven children from north London. However, he is famous not for the quantity of his victims, but for the bizarre manner of their selection. Mason was an ultra-liberal, Guardian reading teaching assistant, and his killings all reflected his educated, middle-class upbringing.
He selected his victims from local schools, and insisted that the children he ate be "organically farmed". If the kid was fat, greasy, raised in a council estate and cooped-up indoors playing on a Playstation, he would not be selected. Mason only targeted "free-range" children, who were encouraged by their parents to express themselves and get plenty of exercise. Mason believed that if it was immoral to eat a chicken that had spent its whole life in a tiny dark box, then the same applied to humans. He was keen to ensure that all his victims had happy, stress-free upbringings and were not simply battery-chavs on lifeless local estates.
Once he had captured his victims, he cooked
them, adapting recipes from chef Nigel Slater's Real Cooking book.
He ate the children with fresh herbs, locally-sourced vegetables and thick,
crusty French bread. As he was plucking the skin off his unfortunate victims,
he would often chide them on their unimaginative diets. "Nandos,
eh? You could knock up a roast piece of cod with salsa verde and some
vinegar mash in the time it takes you to go to Nandos."
His got 25 years to life.
December 14 2004
Condaleeza Rice has been staying at my place for a few days. She likes to get away from Washington before Christmas. It's pretty fun.
This morning we woke at 5.30am and went jogging around Alexandra Park. We did laps of the duck pond, and each lap Condy would wave and shout a greeting to the ducks in a different language. The first lap was Russian, the second lap was Spanish and the third lap was Vietnamese. I lost count after that.
We showered (seperately, we are just friends) and then had a light breakfast. After that, we settled down in front of the piano. Condy tinkled the ivories and I sung - I do not have a good singing voice, but it seems to entertain her. We did some Rachmaninov and some Schubert and then some showtunes. She loves it when I sing "Send in the Clowns". Sometimes Yo-Yo Ma joins us on cello, but he's on tour at the moment.
We had a quick lunch and then watched the football. She's a massive Arsenal fan and won't hear a bad word about Thierry Henry.
"How can people say he's not a big game player?!? The amount of vital goals he's scored for the Gunners... I remember a Champions League game a couple of seasons ago when Arsenal needed to score and he had a fantastic header - and he's supposed to be useless with his head." I nodded and smiled. There's no point arguing with her.
Then we headed up to Muswell Hill and watched a movie. It was ok, but there was a group of kids being noisy in front of us. They wouldn't shut up, so she called some of her secret service goons and they shot them with tranquilisers. They'll wake up with a headache. Eventually.
It was a nice day. I wish I could see her more often, but she's a busy woman.
The last few weeks have been strange. My sense-of-self has gone awry and I lost myself for a while.
Every so often, I like to check that my vision of the world roughly tallies with how other people see the world. I look at a pigeon. It is a plump grey bird. I check in an encyclopedia and find that, yes, pigeons are plump grey birds. I ask a neighbour. She confirms that pigeons are plump grey birds. I am pleased, but not content. I look at the time. It is 3.15pm. I phone the speaking clock and find that it is actually 3.16pm. I am not quite right, but I am only a minute out. I am basically in sync with the world. My concept of existence is roughly mirrored by empirical (yes, yes, I know the dangers of that word) evidence.
But lately... things have been off.
"That is a fox," I will say, pointing at a fox.
"No. It's a milk float," everyone else says. And they are totally sure it is a milkfloat. And that worries me.
And then last week, my sense of self dissolved almost totally. I remained convinced that I was themanwhofellasleep. But everyone I met saw me as someone else. The Indian man in the newsagent swore that I was a 12-year-old boy. The cashier in Boots seemed to believe I was a thirtysomething black woman. The man from the Liberal Democrats rang on my doorbell and assured me that I was an elderly homeowner. He talked of our previous chats with a certain degree of patronising familiarity.
I do not like it. I know that I am plural... I know that all is not as it seems. But I do not like it when this happens...
November 28 2004
It was dark. I put on my dressing gown and wandered into the garden. I looked up at the moon. Someone had drawn a stupid smiley face on it.
Fucking NASA scientists.
November 24 2004
I went to my monthly meeting of Artists Anonymous. It was in a cold, damp church hall in Hornsey. Everyone was bearded and scruffy - even the women. I had a thermos flask of bovril and sipped gingerly in the silence.
The first to speak was a painter. He looked like he hadn't slept in a week. "If I could... just paint... the perfect line... it would sum everything up. Everything would be better. If I could... just capture the way I feel and put it on canvas, everthing would be ok."
After him, a musician spoke up. He had sores on his lips. "I am looking... for the perfect melody. The greatest melody. I know that when I find it, everything in life will fall into place. The hidden symmetry of nature will reveal itself to me. I... just... can't find it. I find nice, good melodies, but they aren't enough. I need to find God's melody. I know it's out there somewhere."
Then a writer spoke. He looked like a writer. "My book isn't long enough. It's already 4000 pages long, but something is missing. There are characters. There is plot. There are metaphors and similies, but it doesn't... it doesn't make sense. It doesn't pin down life. It's still smaller than life. It needs to be bigger than life." A solitary tear crept down his cheek.
Finally, it was my turn. I didn't have a lot to say. "Um... I'd suggest that you're all making the same mistake. You think that art will solve your existential problems. Perhaps the problem isn't with art, it's within your lives."
They all looked at me with hot, glowering eyes. "What the fuck do you know about art anyway?" they hissed in unison.
November 21 2004
Tottenham Hotspur football club had invited me to the club to give the team a motivational pep-talk before an important game. Their recent results have been poor, and as a long-suffering supporter, I felt it was my duty to try to help the club. Last year they had invited Paul McKenna to hypnotise the squad, but they had overpowered him and buried him by the halfway line. Next time a game is on TV see if you can see the mound.
I walked into the dressing room and looked around. The players were sitting in their kit, silently focused on the game ahead. The manager introduced me and then left the room. He didn't want to cramp my style.
I took a deep breath and begun: "You are all bad people. All of you. Week after week you disappoint me. At the beginning of every season I have such high hopes, and inevitably you let me down. It's not like it's happened once. Every single season you let me down. You're all overpaid and lazy. I hate you all. If your parents could see you now they would be unbearably ashamed. You are awful, rotten people. Yes, even you Jermaine! You guys slumber in the safety of mid-table, always promising more and never delivering the goods. And as soon as you start playing well, you sit there hoping that Chelsea or Arsenal will buy you. You are bad, bad people. I want you to go home tonight and apologise to your families. Apolgise to anyone you see. Repent your awfulness. Every day you should wake up feeling ashamed, because you're bad players and bad human beings. Now go out there and win a football game. It's not too much to ask."
Then I walked out. The door slammed on its hinges. I don't suppose they will invite me back next year. I don't care. I said everything I needed to say.
November 17 2004
I was asleep. She didn't turn on the light, but I knew she was in the room as soon as she opened the door. I was half awash in dreams, so it didn't seem unusual. My eyes closed, I could hear her kicking off her shoes and taking off her clothes. I had no idea who she was but I didn't mind. She crawled into bed beside me and put her arm around me. Her skin was soft against my chest. I waited, hardly breathing. I could tell that her eyelids were fluttering. Then, it could have been minutes or hours... I heard her lightly snoring. It was a dry, slender wheeze. She was a smoker. I opened my eyes. I could only make out her silhouette, wrapped around me. But I could smell her. I didn't mind it at all. I closed my eyes and slept.
When I awoke the next morning, she was gone. But there was a note on my bedside table: "Last night was great. We should do it again. XXX."
That is what happens when you leave your door unlocked. Normally, it's not so pleasant.
November 14 2004
My friend Phillip is known as "the man who killed one thousand blogs". His is not an empty title. Far from it. If you own a blog, you should fear him greatly.
Phillip had been unemployed for a couple of years when he saw an advert in the Haringay Advertiser. It was from a group known as the Association for Web Justice (AWJ) and they were in need of Standards Enforcers. He pondered the advert for a few curious seconds before calling the freephone number listed in the ad. The AWJ secretary explained that they were a legislative body funded by a right-wing think tank and were dedicated to improving the internet by ridding the world of ineffective blogs. Phillip's eyes lit up like Roman Candles. He hates blogs. He asked if he could have an interview for the position. He rushed out and bought a new tie from Sock Shop.
Needless to say, Phillip got the job. He's been doing it for 18 months now and is the leading Standards Enforcer in London. He spends the morning surfing the net, looking for tired, uninspired, unoriginal blogs. He doesn't have to look hard. Then he traces the blog owners. If they live within his catchment area (Greater London, Watford and Luton), he drives over to their house and confiscates their computers. The blog owners normally protest ("My blog is good! It's important that the public knows how many lagers I had with Lucy and Gary last week") but the AWJ is perfectly legal. And anyway, they have the best lawyers in town.
It may seem harsh, but Phillip believes in a zero-tolerance policy in regard to blogs. He says that if left unchecked, blogs will swamp the internet to the point where no other form of HTML existence will be possible.
So, if you run a blog and it's just another humdrum catalogue of your daily blah, beware. There may be a knock on your door at any moment.
November 9 2004
I was sitting in a pub, tearing the top layer off a beermat.
"I see dead people," said the man sitting opposite me.
"What? Like that kid in the Sixth Sense?" I said.
"No. I work in a morgue. It's quite depressing."
November 5 2004
A famous author came round for lunch. I won't tell you his name, except that his Christian name is Ian. He was tired and angry; he was having trouble with his latest novel. He complained that his agent didn't like the ending, and was pressing for a rewrite. It was too open-ended - the publishers wanted something less ambiguous and more conclusive.
I wasn't much in the mood for talking. As you may have noted from recent journal entries, I have not been in good spirits. I blame the weather. My grandfather was a hedgehog and I always have the urge to hibernate when winter approaches. I resent waking up on days such as these.
Ian had the manuscript of his novel with him, and I lazily leafed through it.
"How long is it?" I asked.
"For what they're paying you... it's not worth it. Break it up."
"What do you mean?" He enquired, puzzled but curious.
"Don't write it as a novel. There must be about 5000 sentences in here. Sell them seperately. They're pretty good."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Sell them individually. As song lyrics. As catchphrases. As slogans. As poems. Bumper stickers... as anything... I don't know... use your imagination."
"Can it be done?"
I smiled and pulled out a card. It was Larry Herbert's business card. Larry Herbert is the the best word-broker in the UK. If you want a word sold, he could sell it for top dollar. He once shifted 100 "ands" of mine for five thousand pounds.
Ian took the card. I could tell he was not convinced.
I ate five pizzas. I drank two bottles of scotch. I smoked 400 cigarettes. But it did no good. It did no good at all.
October 31 2004
It is Halloween. I do not like it but I accept it.
In anticipation of Trick or Treaters, I had switched off all the lights and drawn the curtains, so they would assume that there was no-one in the house. Nonetheless, the doorbell rung. And of course, I answered it.
"Trick or Treat!!" yelped a group of pre-teens in fancy dress.
"Who are you supposed to be?" I asked one of the children, who was wearing a fake beard and a pair of old glasses.
"Harold Shipman," he said.
"Oh. Ok. Yeah, that's pretty good, I suppose. Just a moment... I'll see what I have in the house."
I had a rummage in my Halloween sack, and pulled out a syringe.
"Here you go," I offered the ringleader the syringe.
"What's that?" he asked nervously.
"Insulin. I figured that you kids eat so many sweets over Halloween, that at least one of you will eventually develop diabetes. So I always hand out insulin instead. Ask your parents and they'll show you how to inject. You won't like it at first, but you'll get used to it. In a few months you'll forget that you ever survived without it."
Shipman Junior smiled. "Thank you," he said.
I like kids who are polite. Good manners hide a multitude of sins.
October 28 2004
Today I talked to the man selling the Socialist Worker outside Wood Green library. He was in a frightful state. His skin was blotchy and irritated as though all the frustration and hatred in his body was trying to force its way out through his pores. Every few seconds a new spot would appear on his face, swell to the size of a pea and then explode, projecting acidic pus onto the street. The paving stones were pockmarked and uneven - it was clear that weeks of pus had eroded the concrete.
"What are you protesting against today?" I asked.
"Everything," he hissed, wiping his greasy hair away from his eyes. "Everything in the world. Everything that springs forth from human corruption. Everything born of original capitalist sin. You... are.... all... such.... scum." He was having trouble speaking. It was as if his physical body was merely a conduit from some extradimensional source, and was struggling to contain his accursed essence. He looked as though he might explode or implode at any moment.
"Hmmmm... I am not actually scum. I am ok. I've killed a few people, but those were mistakes. I do my bit." I smiled as I spoke.
"You don't understand," he barked, his head juddering uncomfortably from side to side. "If you're not with me, you're against me. To... be... good... is not enough. You must be ideologically sssssound. You must believe in the eradication of human choice. You must worship the dog god dogma."
"Um...no thanks," I said. "I am sure you're a nice man and everything, but you're scaring people and everyone thinks you smell."
October 23 2004
Walter Matthau came round for a beer after dinner. He's been dead for a couple of years, but he's still better company than most people I know. That face... I could kiss it if it wasn't decomposing.
"How's death?" I asked him.
"Pshaw! I can't complain," he said, flicking a maggot off his lapel, "though the food is dreck."
"What do you do? To pass the time?"
"It's like being alive, except there's less rush. I smoke a cigar, I play gin rummy, I listen to the radio. I chase the girls a bit, but dead girls aren't as nice as living broads. No class. They've seen to much. But you know... it's ok. It's like living in Florida."
He looked well. It embarassed me that he looks so at ease with himself, dead, while I looked like a nervous wreck. It has not been a good week for me.
He caught a cab back to the afterlife. I offered to pay, but he smiled and waved away my gesture... he is a gentleman.
October 20 2004
There is a spare room in my house. It's filled with the butts of every cigarette I have ever smoked. There are 40,000 of them. I can't bear to throw them away. I am a hoarder of useless things.
October 15 2004
I was sat on a bench with a woman. The sky was clear and the air was crisp and fresh.
"I love autumn," she said. "It's the colours. All that red and orange. Look... it almost looks like that tree is on fire."
"It is on fire," I replied. "I set it on fire. Actually... we should probably move from here. It's getting quite hot."
October 11 2004
Today Morrissey came round for tea. It was unexpected, and there was no food in the house, so I had to give him a plate of iron filings. Later on, I had fun pulling him around the lounge with a giant magnet.
Morrissey surrounds himself with a large entourage. He pays them to insult him and make inappropriate suggestions. "Why don't we do a two-step remix of the new single?" "You should work with Nelly - he's very hot at the moment." "You're past it. You're balding and no one thinks you're relevant anymore."
Then, when he's had a few hours of abuse, he tells them to leave and moans: "Ohhh... do you see what I have to put up with?"
I like him. He's funny.
Morrissey and his flyaway hair
October 8 2004
I was wandering in the rain, lonely as a cow. I found myself in a small, dark club in a Soho sidestreet. It was called "Club Delusion". I wandered in. It was awful.
The room was full of short, ugly men, dressed fashionably in suit jackets and jeans. They looked at each other nervously, waiting to pounce if they felt a fellow clubber was not dressed fashionably enough - or worse still, if they were dressed too fashionably. For every three men, there was was a tall, bored-looking woman, staring down at the men, possibly searching for early signs of baldness.
A man called Jack hurriedly approached me and thrust his hand into mine. It turned out that he was the owner of the club. One of his eyes was focused on mine, but the other flitted wildly in its socket. (He later explained his eye condition - it allows him to talk to one person, but keep an eye on the rest of the club, in case someone more important walks in).
I asked him why the club reeked so strongly of failure and evil. He smiled proudly.
"I wanted to set up a club where London media types could really revel in their delusions," he said. He swept his arm around the room, pointing at the hunched masses. "Aren't they magnificent? Not one of them is happy. They all think of themselves as movers and shakers on the cutting edge of media and fashion, yet in reality they have no influence at all. They come here in small packs and network with each other in the hope of making a vital breakthrough. It's fantastic. None of the guys has any desire other than to land a job commissioning bad television and boasting about the amount of coke they do."
I asked him about the women.
"They are here to look bored. They are very good at it. I hire them to add some glamour. None of them would touch the guys here with a bargepole, because they all have delusions that they are supermodels, when most of them just work as PA's in the city. There's a fantastic lack of interplay between the men and the women here. I have a motto for this place: "everyone goes home alone". That's why the music is so loud... so people can't really talk. I want that kind of atmosphere where people can stare glumly across the bar at each other, wearing fixed smiles and kidding themselves that they're metrosexual trendsetters," he looked up. His roving eye was glowing and pulsing in its socket. "Can you excuse me for a second," he said. "I've just seen someone I think may work for E4."
He pushed past me and rushed to the door, where a tall bouncer had a small Scottish man in a headlock. I didn't see him again.
I got the tube home. Somewhere down the carriage, a drunk was shouting out incomprehensible verse. I admired him.
October 4 2004
Today I got on a train. As soon as I'd gotten myself settled and found my copy of Metro, the train fell into the sea. My Metro was soaked. This country is going to the dogs.
(my train, shortly before it fell in the sea)
When I was a young man, I used to write poetry! What a fool I was! I wrote of destiny, and tragedy, of autumn leaves and summer rain. I imagined that history would recall me as a perceptive dreamer whose sensitive verses has articulated the agony of the age. Needless to say, it was a phase that I grew out of.
It all ended rather awkwardly at a poetry reading, where I killed four people with a badly rhyming couplet. The pen is truly mightier than the sword.
Sometimes I am contacted by old friends or academics who plead with me to revive my poetic ambitions, but to no avail. Poets are weedy ingrates who chew gum and smell of stale urine. And I do not chew gum.
However, I do fondly remember some of my poems. And in the spirit of nostalgia, I will present you with some short works.
This is a poem I wrote to commemorate the death of my good friend John F Kennedy. He was a sweet man, but never presidential material. I always imagined he'd end up washing cars in a local garage.
"There's a pig in
Many academics have analysed the role of the pig in my poetry. I wish they wouldn't. I wish they would shave and get a proper job.
This is a poem I wrote about the death of Diana, princess of Wales. She was also a nice girl, but a bit needy. A lot of cultural commentators felt that this poem summed up the mood of the nation in those hysterical days that followed her demise.
The world of poetry is poorer for my absence. But my life is greatly enriched by its lack of poetry.
September 29 2004
I sat in the waiting room outside Dr Merrick's clinic. He's my new psychoanalyst. I am not sure whether I trust him or not. He seems very nervous, which doesn't make me feel good about myself. Also, his trousers are always stained. I think it's salad cream.
On the waiting room wall there is a poster. It reads: "No. I am NOT the elephant man. Nor am I related to him in any way. You may think your jokes and jibes are funny, but they are NOT."
After I'd waited half an hour, Mary, Dr Merrick's softly-spoken assistant, told me it was my turn to see the doctor. I shuffled into the room. There was a spotlight over the bed, but Dr Merrick himself was shrouded in darkness. I could hardly see him, but I could see the plumes of smoke that drifted across the room from his clove cigarettes.
I lay down and explained that I had a lot on my mind at the moment. I told him that there were too many thoughts in my head, and that they all seemed to be fighting for control of my mind.
He coughed and said that my subconscious was probably overbooked.
I frowned and asked him what he meant.
He coughed again and explained that the subconscious worked in very much the same way as a flight on an airplane. Sometimes the subconscious mind is overbooked - there are too many subconscious thoughts jostling for the same positions. When this happens, a person's mental air hostess upgrades some of the thoughts from subconscious to conscious and they occupy the front part of the mind, where they are separated from the subconscious by a thin curtain.
Then he coughed again - loudly - and told
me that my time was up. I'd only been there for eight minutes.
September 24 2004
Dr Bruce Banner came round for tea. He is always very highly strung. And oh-so-fussy. No milk in the tea. Just one sugar. No gelatine in the boiled sweets. He gets on my nerves a bit.
I offered him a macaroon.
"You know I don't like macaroons," he whined.
"No. I didn't know that. But I should have guessed. You don't like anything, do you?"
"Don't say that!" he gripped his mug of tea and the veins in his temples bulged with blood.
"I don't know why I bother with you," I said. "You never like anything I do. You just come here to complain."
He stood up, spilling his tea on his lap. He shook a fist at me. "That's not fair! You know how difficult this is for me!" he wailed.
"La-de-da, Poor old Bruce Banner, blah, blah, blah, gamma radiation, blah, blah, blah, huge green muscles.... it's just me, me, me with you, isn't it Bruce?"
"Don't make me angry," he snarled. "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
"Oh Bruce," I sighed. "I don't like you anyway."
September 20 2004
I rang the doorbell. A man answered.
"Oh, I am sorry," I said. "I hadn't realised you were shaving."
"What are you talking about?" he said. "I'm not shaving."
"But your face... it's covered in shaving foam," I responded.
He let out a low sob.
"That's NOT shaving foam! It's my face!"
I gingerly prodded his face. He was right. What had appeared to be shaving foam was indeed his face. His jaw was white and creamy-looking, but it was firm to the touch, like a fresh mushroom.
"I am sorry. I didn't realise," I said.
"It's ok. Everyone thinks it's shaving foam. Now, what do you want?"
"Nothing. I was just bored so I rung your bell. Can I come in?"
September 17 2004
Some time ago I set up a detective agency. It just seemed like something to do to pass the time - I didn't really expect any clients, but I liked the idea of having my name stencilled on a glass door.
I was sitting at my desk, enjoying the angle at which my fedora fell over eyes, when the doorbell rung. It was a fat, frumpy, middle-aged woman. She looked nervous and clutched her handbag to her chest. I was disappointed... I had always assumed that only glamorous, svelte, young femme fatales went to detective agencies. Once again I have been left stranded by false information on television.
She sat across from me at the desk and I offered her a mint. She declined, but seemed grateful for the gesture.
"It's my husband," she said. "He's been missing for a week."
"Lady," I said. "When most people go missing, it's because they don't want to be found." I had no idea if this was true or not, but it was something I'd once overheard on the radio, and it sounded like it might comfort her.
"Oh no, not my Gerald! He's not like that at all. We're very much in love," she sobbed.
"Ok. When did he go missing?"
"He disappeared a week ago. I saw him after supper on Thursday, and then I popped into the lounge to get a book for bedtime, and when I returned to the kitchen, he was nowhere to be found."
"Ok, lady. What does your husband look like?"
"Um.... he's about six inches wide, with a horn-rimmed frame, and two clear panels of glass."
"Lady. That's not your husband, those are your spectacles. You've just described your glasses - and if I might be so bold, they are hanging around your neck on a chain."
She frantically grabbed at her chest, recovered her glasses and hurriedly put them on her nose. She blinked like an owl. Her eyes suddenly looked huge behind glass.
"Oh! Thank you! Thank you so much! I am always doing this... I am afraid I often mistake my husband for my glasses. I have been lost without them for the last week... I am very near-sighted and life without my spectacles is unbearable!
"What about your husband?" I asked. "Is he missing or not? Are you even married at all?"
"I am afraid Gerald died some years ago," she confessed. "But you seem nice. And I'm so very lonely. Could I have that mint?"
September 15 2004
People always talk about drowning kittens in sacks, but it's really not that easy. Let's not even start on the pain of chasing a cat, stunning it, and then getting it into the sack. My problem is that the cats always seem to float. It's not like I fit them with inflatable armbands or anything. I just shove them in the sack.
But when I dump them in the river, they refuse to sink. They just bob along the surface, getting mewing and floating downstream towards the sea.
September 11 2004
Today I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It was in an old church near Muswell Hill. There were five or six men and a couple of women. I didn't say much, I just sat in a corner, nursing my pint of Guinness and slurping unnecessarily loudly.
Everyone spoke in hushed tones. There were silences and occasional bursts of dark laughter. Eventually Richard, the guy in charge, turned to me and spoke. He was fat and bald and had no discernable eyebrows. He wore a wide, generous smile. His teeth were yellow.
"It looks like we have a new friend here today. What's your name?"
"Hang on," I said. "I thought this place was supposed to be anonymous."
"Well, yes. You don't have to give your real name. But it would be nice to know what to call you."
I couldn't argue with his logic. "Ok. You can call me Captain Savage," I said.
"Ummm... ok, Captain Savage. Where would you like to begin? How long have you been drinking?"
"I don't drink. I never have," I admitted. "I've always been more interested in the anonymous part of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have always yearned to be anonymous... to annihilate my personality and history."
"Ok," Richard looked bemused and puzzled. I could see he was wrestling with his innate goodwill. "So... you don't have any kind of drink problem? Because this is Alcoholics Anonymous. If you don't have a drink problem, you probably shouldn't be here."
"Yes. I understand. I don't mean to be peevish, but this place should really be renamed. At the moment it's called Alcoholics Anonymous... if you're not interested in people being anonymous, then you should just call it Alcoholics."
Some of the alcoholics had begun to mutter under their breath, and I began to feel unwelcome in the small, dusty room. Outside, it was almost dark.
September 7 2004
I spent most of today staring at a blank piece of paper, waiting for a message to appear in invisible ink. But the message didn't appear. It turns out it was just a blank piece of paper.
September 4 2004
To talk of money is distasteful. I was rich when Rockefeller was a mewling pup. I have overseen empires that would make Donald Trump quake with fear. Money is my unnecessary evil. Nonetheless, sometimes I am obliged to work. For some form of social interaction, if nothing else.
One of my jobs is editing the "witty" comebacks used by Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link. Anne is a nice enough woman, but has never been suited to the harsh glare of television. When the bright lights in the studio shine into her tiny eyes, she freezes and is reduced to a tongue-tied blob of plastic and silicone. Therefore, in order for her to maintain a level of control, everything she says is tightly scripted by a crack team of writers. And for my sins, I am one of those writers.
A week or so before production, Anne sends me a list of ideas - things she might like to say to contestants on the show. I then work on the comments, and fax them over to the BBC. Sadly, Anne has a somewhat limited imagination, and all her proposed comments are unbroadcastable insults. I simply tear them up and send her the same list of snide, semi-dry comebacks and she uses them instead. You'd recognise them if you've ever watched the programme. Last week the list she sent me was the worst yet - It was like an angry tourette's sufferer stabbing a piece of paper with a cheap biro. Every single one of her proposed comments was "You shits. You fucking shits. I hate you all." I was almost tempted to leave them unchanged, but I feel sorry for the poor woman. She is a lost soul in the cruel world of early evening television entertainment.
Today I watched television. I saw a film.
The film was about a young Indian girl in England who wants to be a footballer. However, her family are devout Muslims and want her to live a traditional life and get married. She is torn. She loves football - it's all she thinks about - but she also loves her family and doesn't want to disappoint them. Eventually, she decides to pursue her dream of becoming a footballer. Sadly, she breaks her legs and is unable to play anymore. She is penniless and her family shuns her. She is forced into prostitution to earn a living. She becomes a heroin addict. Her addiction consumes her and at the end of the film she is found dead in a council bedsit, having overdosed on smack.
The film was alright, but it was a bit too "feelgood" for my taste.
August 28 2004
There is much talk of parallel universes. It is all hogwash and heffalumps. There are no such things.
Scientists - or frauds as I call them - endlessly theorise about time and space. They claim that for every possible decision, there are infinite outcomes, and that these theoretical outcomes form splinter universes that run parallel to our own. It hardly seems likely. One universe seems more than enough.
However, I will concede there are moments when the universe plays tricks on me... when realities appear to diverge and converge.
These blips only occur at bus-stops: If
I pass a bus-stop, and ponder getting a bus, a strange thing happens.
Reality seems to split in two. In one reality, I wait for the bus and
ride it home. In the other reality, I cannot be bothered to wait for the
bus and I walk home. These two realities juxtapose, and whichever decision
I take, I am consumed by anxiety and the two "themanwhofellasleeps"
race each other home. Sometimes the "me" who took the bus wins.
Sometimes the "me" who walked wins. It doesn't seem to matter
who gets home first.... it's the strange sense of unreality and anxiety
that defeats me.
August 22 2004
A goth came round to visit. I don't like goths.
"My life is torment," said the goth. "With every breath that I take, God mocks me."
"Hmmm..." I replied.
"The Incubi and Succubi of boredom and sterility stalk me," he continued. "I can feel the icy fingers of Death clutching my breast."
"Ok." I said.
"I am the God of Fuck," he said. "I am the Prince of dread, of doom, of nothingness."
"Ok, I'll have to stop you there. Look... life isn't so bad. I mean, life IS that bad, but the don't be so melodramatic. The thing about life... it's not about extremes. It's not about God, or death or suffering. It's about banality. It's about the humdrum details: tube journeys, weather, itchy skin, Sunday afternoons, football matches. You can't exist on a diet of high drama and excitement. Life isn't lived on the edges, it's lived far from the edges, in the safe little corners of everyday... however dull and inconsequential they might be."
"You disgust me," he spat. "You're dead and you don't even know it."
"No," I smiled smugly. "You're quite wrong. I am alive and don't know it."
Then I stabbed him. He was beginning to bore me.
August 15 2004
Once again I found myself in Wood Green shopping centre. Over the haze of neon and chirp of hospital radio, I noticed a commotion in the market place. There were the usual booths, offering cheap jewellery or a photo of a loved one on a mug, but there was also a large, new booth that was attracting quite a crowd.
I wandered closer. People were whispering to each other in an awed hush. Then I realised why: The booth had a large sign about it, and written in blue and white letters were the following words: "HAVE YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH NELSON MANDELA. £1.50."
And sure enough, sitting on a plastic chair by the booth was the celebrated political prisoner and former President of South Africa. He looked serene and was happily munching on a sausage roll. It was definitely him. I recognised him from a meeting we once had in the early nineties. I gave him a little wave and he cheerily waved back.
Beside the booth were a group of protesters. They were mostly liberal-looking white women in their early forties. They had placards saying: "Do not have your photo taken with Mr Mandela. His constant public appearances degrade his image as a former world statesman." I wandered over and said hello to one of the protesters.
"Why are you so unhappy about the photos?" I asked.
"It cheapens him. This man spent 30 years in jail. He's one of the most important figures of the 20th century. He shouldn't be whoring himself around every shopping centre and youth club in Britain, acting like he's just another Z-list celebrity."
"He seems happy enough," I pointed out.
"What's THAT got to do with it?" She growled. She thrust a sweaty pamphlet into my hands.
The pamphlet made boring reading. It was basically a summary of Mr Mandela's life. There was one interesting line at the bottom: "It is estimated that by 2007, 80% of the world's population will have had their photo taken with Nelson Mandela."
I scrunched up the pamphlet and threw it in a bin. That was enough excitement for one day.
August 10 2004
Beyonce came round to lunch. I arrived home late and when I got there she was standing outside in the rain. She was only wearing a bikini. I've tried to tell her before that bikinis aren't really suitable for north London suburbia, even in the summer. The weather is not that reliable.
In the old days, the other members of Destiny's Child would come along with Beyonce, but I told Michelle and Kelly not to bother any more. They're the chaff and Beyonce is the wheat and I am a very busy man.
I let Beyonce into the house and put on the kettle.
"Do you want sugar in your tea?" I asked her as she lounged provocatively on the sofa.
"Ummm... I am not gonna compromise my Christianity!" she replied "Just because I'm on stage dancing like I do, doesn't mean I'm not a God-fearing Christian. You know that people express their spirituality in different ways, and for me, there's nothing wrong with shakin' my booty and wearing sexy outfits. I'm still the same moral person that I always was. I don't think that God minds me being like I am. God gave me this body, so I don't think he'd object to me showing it off. At the end of the day I am an entertainer... and that's cool. But my personal and spiritual life is a totally seperate thing."
"I only asked if you wanted sugar in your tea."
"Oh. Yeah. Two please," she smiled.
It was a long day.
August 8 2004
They predicted a meteor shower for tonight, so I went up on the roof of my house/cave. The sky was a muddy red and the air was thick and balmy. It felt for a minute as though I was living on Mars. But I wasn't. I was standing in north east London. On a roof.
There were clouds in the sky. The man on the weather hadn't mentioned clouds. The sky was supposed to be clear. I stared straight up, straining my eyes for meteors. But all I could see was God, distant, resting in his details. There were no meteors. And then something struck me on the face. It wasn't a meteor. It wasn't even a full, plump raindrop.
It was a woman's court shoe. Black leather. I waited, every sinew tensed, for a second shoe, but that was it. A single shoe. If it was a pair of shoes, I'd have sold them on e-bay, but it was just one shoe... no good to anyone.
I waited all night. There were meteors later, and I made a wish.
Why must I share my world with other people? It is my world. I was here first.
I saw the Earth take shape. I witnessed the continents clatter and bump and rise from the seas. I saw the apes descend from the trees and wear raincoats and smoke pipes. I watched man invent the wheel. I chuckled as he created the gun, the telephone and the skateboard. I've been there and seen it all.
And here I am, now. In this world that teems with opinions. That shudders with speeches and songs and Sunday supplement columnists. So much noise and so little peace. I just want to be able to walk down the road without seeing a single human being. Is that so much to ask?
I do like people. I just wish they knew their place.
July 28 2004
Today was an awkward day: I bumped into myself.
It was outside the Tesco on the north circular, by Colney Hatch Lane. He was smiling and friendly and wanted to introduce me to his wife and kids. I just wanted to get away as quickly as possible. I was embarassed by his giant trolley, laden with kids meals and organic fruit and veg - I had a small basket full of frozen lasagnes and a jar of instant coffee.
"Hi!" he bounded over to me. "You look well! My god, it's been... what? 3 years."
"Yes," I murmured. "Something like that."
"Victoria," he turned and hollered to his wife. "There's someone here I'd like you to meet."
"No. No. I must go." I turned and walked rapidly into the store, camouflaging myself among some bananas.
As to how he ended up there... it's a long story. We all have different sides of ourselves. We are constructed of different, disparate aspects. As we grow older, we attempt to unite and assimilate their warring factions of our soul. Some of us are more successful than others, I suppose. There were two distinct parts of my personality: one was dynamic, decisive, eager to embrace life's challenges. The other side is what I am now... vague, indecisive... only loosely moored to my increasingly banal life.
Ever since we split, he has been eager to get back together with me, to "become whole" again. He's convinced that if we just give it a bit of time, we can work out our differences. But I... I just want him to go away.
(the other me)
July 26 2004
The sky was black today. Either that or I woke up in the middle of the night.
I don't bother wearing a watch nowadays... time means so little to me. It could be today, it could be yesterday. It could be tomorrow.
July 22 2004
I was in the lounge, reading the Telegraph and smoking a Marlboro Light. It was sunny and sticky and I crinkled my eyes as I read. My reverie was broken by a brick sailing through my window and landing on my carpet with a dull thud. Fortunately, the window was open, so I was not showered with shattered glass. In a strange way it was a disappointment. It's not very often that a brick is thrown through my window, and I had always assumed people only did it when the windows were closed.
Attached to the brick was a note. I unfurled the string that bound the note to the brick, my fingers not quite trembling. I was expecting some kind of threat or abuse - that seemed to be the traditional form with bricks and windows.
Instead, the note simply stated: "THIS IS A BRICK."
I picked up the brick. It was reassuringly heavy in my palm. I pulled out a biro, and scribbled on the back of the note: "NO. THIS IS A NOTE." Then I tied the note to the brick and hurled it back out into the street.
What a strange morning it has been.
July 21 2004
It was a long time ago... it seems that way anyway. We were sitting in a café. She was pretty. Her prettiness made me nervous... I get vertigo when faced by trick questions or attractive women.
"I like you," she smiled, playing with a sachet of salt. "You're interesting."
"You won't like me," I insisted. "When you get to know me. I am a bad person."
"Well, perhaps that should be for me to find out. I'm not a little girl that you need to protect.... I know what men are like. And I'm no angel myself." She lowered her face to mine and whispered conspiratorially "I do actually quite enjoy sex."
I blushed and half-smiled.
"I know... I am not some chauvanist idiot. I know women like sex. I even like it myself sometimes. It's just... we'll get together and we'll split up. These things are inevitable. So it just seems easier on both of us if we don't get together in the first place. Forgive my cynicism."
"Ouch!" she laughed a kind laugh. "Look, neither of us know if it'll work out. I also have my own.... issues. But, for God's sake... what's the point of life if you can't take a risk every once in a while."
I picked up the ketchup and squirted it on my chips. It was too sweet, as café ketchup always is. "I am not sure there is a point to life," I said.
She flicked hair out of her eyes and laughed again. "Goodness, you are being miserable today, aren't you?"
She looked me in the eyes. "Don't be sorry," she said. "Just don't fuck up." And with that, she leaned over and kissed me. I kissed her back, biting on her lip and swallowing anxiety. I closed my eyes. I closed my heart.
And then I heard a shattering sound.
As we kissed, her head had rolled off her shoulders and fallen on the floor. Pieces of porcelain skull were everywhere. The Portuguese waitress looked at the mess and scowled. I asked her for the brush and pan and hurriedly cleaned up. That was the end of relationships for me.
July 20 2004
I have been away. But I can't remember where.
Now I am back. I think.
July 8 2004
I have a confession: I am part of a conspiracy. I belong to a shadowy group of individuals whose aim is dark and nefarious. It is not Opus Dei. It is not the Bilderberg group. It is the League against Narrative.
The secret society members and myself are dedicated to eradicating the scourges of storytelling: the insidious myth of cause and effect, the lie of moral justice, the dream that there is progress, growth and conclusion. These are the demons that destroy our existence.
The life of the modern man (and woman, I will concede) is ruined by this myth of narrative. We believe our lives are like books or films and have a concrete beginning, middle and end. We expect introductions to lead somewhere, we wait for conversations to reach a climax... we live in the disappearing shadow of a thrilling denoument. But our lives are sadly free from narrative. We go nowhere. For every step forward that we take, we wander down a dead-end or a blind alley. We stumble from day to day believing that the passage of time indicates movement. But it is simply another day.
The League against Narrative is dedicated to the annihilation of these false Gods. We will open the eyes of the people: we will show them that we are going nowhere.
July 5 2004
I took a bus through Poshtown and then Toffborough. From the top deck I could see the rich people in the street, sitting outside in the sunshine. Laughing outside cafes, drinking red wine and flirting. I wasn't jealous: I have been rich and I have been poor. I was miserable both ways, but I ate better when I was rich. Sunlight streamed through the bus windows, reflected up from the river. Geese scuttled across Richman Bridge. You can't smoke on buses nowadays... I suppose it's for the best. When I get off buses I have a fag poised in my lips and as soon as the doors close behind me I flick my lighter and inhale.
A girl in her early twenties climbed the stairs. I smiled at her and she almost smiled back. A small victory.
The bus rose up the hill towards Bourgeoise-ville. A chatter of overeducated children got on the bus. They irritated me but I did not kill them. I am learning.
I got bored of the bus and pressed the bell. I walked the rest of the way home. I get tired of fictional places.
Last night I was taking out the rubbish (note to American readers - rubbish is trash or garbage. I don't know why you can't just use the word rubbish. It's a perfectly good word) when I found a pair of lips in my front garden.
They were a woman's lips, full and plump. I was almost tempted to kiss them. It has been a long time since I have kissed soft lips.
It made me think about lips, and about the fact that some woman somewhere was now walking around without any lips. I felt sorry for her. Then I put the lips on the mantelpiece, with all the other body parts.
June 25 2004
Tim Henman came round my house. I don't like to talk about my encounters with celebrities, but this tale bears repeating. A couple of years ago, he parted with his coach David Felgate, and since then, he's been visiting me for advice on improving his game. I don't really focus on the physical side of tennis, just on the psychological side. It's quite a challenge to transform him from drippy public schoolboy into a raging tiger tennis animal. He is so totally hamstrung by manners, goodwill and a limp-wristed desire to avoid offence. In short: he is not a winner.
We sat in the lounge. I ate a ginger snap. Loudly. I crunched it between my teeth. I chewed with my mouth open. I wanted to raise his hackles... to annoy him, to provoke a primal emotional response.
"Excuse me, Sir. Could I please have a biscuit?" he asked.
"Fuck off," I tersely replied.
"Oh. Ok," he murmured, his doe eyes filling with tears.
"Jesus, Tim!"I slammed my fist onto the table, causing a bourbon cream to fly into the air and out of the window. "I just told you to fuck off. You should be angry! You should be asking me outside for a fight! Where's your passion?"
"I know," he mumbled. "I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologise," I fixed him with cold glower. "You did nothing wrong. In fact, I just insulted you. Get angry! Call me a twat!"
"Um.... you're a twit."
"No Tim. Not a twit. A twit is a silly thing that a five-year-old boy calls his mummy. A twat is an offensive word. If you want to win Wimbledon, you've got to get offensive. They call you Tiger Tim... start acting like a tiger. Rip someone to shreds."
For the next two hours, I worked on conditioning Tim. I used a lot of discredited Pavlovian approaches to get him boiling with rage, to remove his inbred tendency to pluckily lose in the quarter-finals. I coated him in pig's blood and chased him around the room with a birch. I don't like doing these things... they give me no pleasure. I am no quack or sadist. I do these things because no-one else is willing to do what it takes to improve British sports.
By the end of the session, Tim was exhausted and sobbing quietly, his face cradled in his spindly arms. Downstairs, the bell rang. I opened the door. It was a middle-aged woman from Christian Aid, asking for a donation. In a flash Tim stormed downstairs, barged past me and smashed her in the face with a balled fist. She crumpled to the floor like Andrew Castle, blood streaming from her nose. I have to admit... just for a moment, I felt proud of Tim.
June 21 2004
I have discovered some unpleasant truths about the garden of Eden. I was looking through some old paperwork when I stumbled upon the birth certificates of Adam and Eve. Adam's mum and dad are both listed as God, and Eve's mother is also listed as God. Her father is listed as a rib.
This got me thinking: as well as being husband and wife, it seems Adam and Eve are also brother and sister (at the very least they are half-siblings). Well, everyone knows that the offspring of siblings tend to be mentally subnormal, and I suppose this explains why the human race is a bit slow. Evolution can only do so much with poor genetic material.
It's not original sin.... it's original incest. Ugh...
June 17 2004
Someone is poisoning me. I think it may be Machiavelli. I'll need to keep my eye on him.
June 16 2004
I woke up. I could not see. I tried to remember what I had done the night before. I had been drunk. But not blind drunk. Why on earth couldn't I see?
My throat was dry. My nose hurt. I reached up to wipe my eyes. My eyes. They weren't there.
I panicked. My eyes were ALWAYS there. It's part of what they do. They sit on my face, above my nose. I let out a small whimper. Then I realised what I must have done. Last night... I had bumbled home, drunk. I had thrown a kebab in the bin. I had watched an old football match on television. I had swilled out my mouth with lukewarm water. Then I had taken my contact lenses out... of course! My bloody contact lenses. Instead of taking them out, I had taken out my eyes.
Again, I panicked. Because I wear disposable contact lenses. I just throw them away. But where? Still blind, I pawed my way towards the dustbin, fear rising in my gullet. The bin was wet. But empty. I scrambled downstairs, tripping over the hoover on the way. I felt my way into the kitchen and clutched at the black plastic bin in the corner. I plunged my hands in.... I felt cold kebab meat against my palms. It was sensual and heavenly, but I was not distracted from my task. I needed my eyes. I reached further in, gingerly scrabbling away at old cigarettes and cans of Panda Cola.. I found them! Well, they were either eyes or eggs, and I don't eat eggs, so they were more likely to be my eyes.
I resisted the temptation to just plunge them straight back into my eyes - they were probably covered in chili sauce. Chili sauce and eyes do not mix. I cupped the eyeballs in my palms and held them under the cold tap for a minute.Then I put them back into my face. Where they belong. I blinked. I sighed... they weren't eggs. They were eyes, my blessed eyes. Life is strange like that: you don't realise how much you need eyes until you accidentally throw them away.
June 13 2004
I was waiting by a bus stop in Wood Green. The 184 bus was failing to arrive. It often does that. Also waiting with me was a non-descript middle-aged man. The sun was beating down on us with only a little remorse.
"You know what annoys me," I said, turning to my anonymous companion, "There is no narrative to my life."
"Don't tell me about it," he shrugged. "I am just a supporting character. No background. No future."
"I mean it," I said. "I wake up in the morning and it could be any day. There's no structure or story to my life. Things just happen, with no real sense of progression. There's no cause and effect. Some days it's two-steps-forward and one-step back. Other days it's two-steps-forward and three-steps-back. Other people seem to have much clearer lives... they have friends and partners and go out and do things. They have projects that nest and hatch."
"Don't fucking tell me! I'm just a narrative device... I am just here so you can talk to me and not speak to yourself out loud. So fuck off."
Narrative devices used to be much more polite.
June 8 2004
I got into a taxi. The taxi driver had a face like a plate of rotten ham.
"Ha ha! You'll never guess who I had in the back of my cab an hour ago," he guffawed.
"You. You were in my cab an hour ago,"
"No. I wasn't. I was at home in the bath."
"Don't worry mate. It was definitely you. We had the same conversation. It's just a tiny ripple in the space-time continuum - happens all the time. If I had a quid for every temporal hiccup I've seen, I'd be a rich man.
I hate taxi drivers.
My friend Michael is a reverse werewolf. His is a terrible affliction. Most of the time he lives as a normal wolf, living a normal lupine existence, foraging for food in the woodlands outside north London. But once a month, when the moon is full, he undergoes a terrible change...
For on full moons, he transforms into a human. His furs retracts, his front paws become arms and hands and he stands tall on his hind legs. For those two days he is no longer Michael the wolf, but Michael Rosen, a jewish accountant in Finchey Central.
He hates it. I have often been woken late at night by Michael turning up at my doorstep, raging at the agony of his condition. I try to console him as best I can... I show him the lovely flat he owns, and tell him that his fellow accountants respect his head for number, but he is consumed by self-loathing.
"Look at me," he howls, pulling away at his Moss Bros suit. "I am a monster! How can I look my fellow wolves in the eye...if they knew what happens to me... that I become this... this thing."
Michael's transformations began after he was bitten by an accountant when he ventured into north London in the back of a lorry. I have searched for a cure to his condition, but to no avail. There is nothing I can do and he is beginning to lose hope.
There isn't much you can say to a wolf when he knows that come the next full moon, he will once again find himself working late in an office in Edgware, faxing share certificates to his head office. Maybe it would be better if I killed him.
(Michael in human form)
May 30 2004
Christina Aguilera came round for tea. I prepared a plate of sponge fingers. She didn't touch them.
She was wearing next to nothing. She said I looked "hot". I said that yes, it was a bit stuffy in here, and I opened a window. She muttered something about English guys under her breath. I took the sponge fingers back to Londis and got my money back.
May 29 2004
I woke up angry. The sky was red and my veins throbbed with injustice. I punched the bed, my hands shaking with rage. I got out of bed and punched the wall. Punched and punched it again. I left the house and punched the postman. I could feel the crunch and splinter of bones - his and my own. I sprinted down the street, my lungs aflame. A vision of bloody murder in my mind, I leapt through a plate glass window in Woolworths and wrestled a cashier to the floor, beating her senseless face with my fists, a scream of power and brutality coursing through me!
I no longer felt angry. I felt old and tired and embarassed. I helped the cashier to her feet and apologised. I walked home. My anger never lasts.... it swiftly melts into regret and self-pity, like an iceberg transported to the Sahara. So I have to use the anger quickly when it comes. I will pay for the broken window - if they fill in the right forms.
May 26 2004
Today I bought a newspaper. There were coupons, which, if collected, could be redeemed for a free DVD. I have no use for a DVD, but I like coupons. I cut them out and pasted them into my scrapbook. Then I pasted my scrapbook into the lining of my jacket and nailed my jacket to the inside of my wardrobe. The wardrobe smells of must.
I should clean out my wardrobe... I should exercise some control over my existence. But I shall wait until June. May is a meaningless month in the dolldrums of the year when nothing of any meaning can be achieved.
May 23 2004
Something strange is happening. I can feel myself changing, evolving, devolving... into something else. It may be human, it may be something else. I can see ultraviolet light and I find myself hovering over the pavement, my feet not quite touching the ground. There are flashes in my head.
All this introspection cannot be good for me.
My friend Marvin has many dogs. They are all named after Greek gods. As morons in pubs are fond of pointing out, dog is god backwards. This means nothing. The dogs are not gods or even anti-gods, they are just dogs.
Marvin dresses the dogs formally, in dinner jackets and spats.I think he is having some form of nervous attack. I try to explain to him that the dogs are uncomfortable and look ridiculous, but he glowers at me and talks about standards. Marvin has very little control over his own existence... he lives a ramshackle, jobless existence, much like my own. His one area of power is over his dogs. After all, they are not gods.
May 19 2004
Someone once told me that I smile in my sleep. I did not believe them. I don't smile when I am awake, and I would be most disappointed if I had let myself down as I slumbered.
(My bed. There is an apple on it)
May 17 2004
There are more and more bald men. Their shiny pates catch the sun and blind me. These bald men... they are not to be trusted. They mass against me. I worry that my own hair will grow thin... they are trying to convert me to their cause. I suspect that they are interfering with my supply of water and making my hair weaken.
This is not a paranoid fantasy. Paranoia is an indulgence I cannot afford. The people who dismiss my fears do not live in my world, they live in a safe little haven of monthly magazines and mortgage repayments. They do not know what it is like to fight on the frontlines of fashion. My hair is my existence: bald men are ridiculed... they are figures of fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing funny about bald men... they are very dangerous indeed.
May 15 2004
Once again I woke up in the hospital. The blinds were drawn, but some sunlight seeped through. The light was golden and cloudy, like bottled piss. The room was silent. I looked around. I will never forget what I saw.
Alongside my bed were rows and rows of animals: lions, badgers, stoats, deer, ponies.... row upon row of them. They were all, without exception, encased in iron lungs. There must have been 50 beasts, all silent except for the mechanical hiss of their breathing apparatus. I was the only human in the room.
I heard the click-clack of high heels. A nurse entered the room. I tried to speak, but my throat hurt and no sound came out. She walked over to a pony that was lying in the giant iron lung beside me. The pony's head lolled awkwardly from the metal casing. A large tongue flopped out of its mouth. The nurse withdrew a packet of cigarettes from her pocket, and with great deliberation, lit a fag. She inhaled deeply and then pressed the cigarette into the pony's mouth. It smoked greedily and then swallowed the cigarette whole. It disappeared with a gulp and a hissing noise.
I waved at the nurse and she approached me with a beatific smile. I coughed and spat a few cigarette butts out of my mouth. No wonder I had a sore throat.
"What.... am... I... doing here?" I croaked.
"Oh," she replied. "I've just realised. You're not an animal, are you? You probably shouldn't be here. This is the animal iron lung ward."
"But I don't need an iron lung. I just came in here to get my wisdom teeth removed."
"Mmmm... probably a clerical error. Our normal receptionist is off.... pregnant. The temp is a bit of a nightmare, to be honest. I'll come back next week and see if we can get you out of here."
"Ok," I said. I was still groggy.
She smiled. "Would you like a cigarette?"
May 10 2004
Where are the avant-garde art collectives of yesteryear? Gone... all gone...
Paedophiles are everywhere!
I cannot leave the house without seeing one. They wander the high street. They lurk in bushes in the park. They sat at bus stops, their pallid yellow skin illuminated by the oncoming traffic. At night I can hear them shuffling around my garden, their unholy groans lost in the twilight. In the mornings, I find strips of flesh on the lawn... their bodies often disintegrate as dawn approaches.
When I was young, there were few paedophiles. Of course, there were dirty old men, but they were kindly, avuncular figures, like neighbourhood butchers or clowns. They were no threat to anyone. I don't know what is wrong with society today... I blame the internet.
These paedophiles are masters of disguise. They could be anyone, at any time, in any place. I recommend extreme vigilance. What is really needed is some kind of public-spirited campaign by the press, to identify and eliminate the paedophiles. But alas, it never happens: the newspapers fear that too many innocent men would be swept up in a witchunt. I admire the restrait of the press, but this is a war.
April 29 2004
I have been on holiday in Cornwall. It wasn't like London at all. Every day I wandered down to my local tube station and waited for a train. It never came. Apparently it wasn't a tube station at all, just an abandoned mine. It was dark, but I wasn't scared.
April 16 2004
Today I went to a coffee shop. I believe young people call them cafes. There was a bewildering array of coffees on offer. Big coffees, small coffees, black coffees, white coffee, straight coffees and gay coffees. I asked for a cup of tea. An old woman sat next to me. I was a little peeved by this as there were plenty of empty tables and I don't like company.
As people get older they tend to physical extremes. In particular, old women either become thin, brittle skeleton women or fat, padded, comedy women. My table-mate was one of the fatties. She wore a headscarf that made her look like an inflated gypsy palm-reader.
"What would you say if I told you I can foresee the future?" she said.
"I wouldn't say anything. I would carry on drinking my cup of tea and ignoring you."
"I knew you would say that. Because I can see into the future," she replied with a certain smugness.
"Ah yes, but now it's the past, isn't it? Anyone with decent vision can see into the past. And the future is just the past waiting to happen," I said. I had no idea what I was talking about, but I hoped it would confuse her.
"You sleep a lot, don't you?" she said.
"No. I hardly sleep at all," I tipped my tea into her lap and left the shop. I get tired of conversations. And I get sick of people seeing me in my pyjamas and jumping to conclusions. My life is my own, almost.
April 11 2004
At the age of 20 I stopped learning things. I was a jar filled to its top. Any more knowledge would have caused an overflow and horrific spillage. Instead of learning things, I combined old pieces of information and polished them to make them sound like new facts. I recycled old thoughts and peddled them to anyone who hadn't heard them before.
April 7 2004
What is a man? Is he defined by his genetic history, or by the choices he makes? Is he nature or nurture?
I don't know. A man is meat. Pork. Beef. Lamb. Chicken.
Some men are less than meat. They think
they are meat. They taste like meat and smell like meat, but they are
something less than meat. They are Quorn. They are imitations. They pass
through life as paler versions of other men. Up close they look like Chicken
and Mushroom Pot Noodles. If you fill them above the water level, they
are soupy and bland. Cut them and they do not bleed. They leak a thin,
oily substance like old soup stock.
I was sitting outside a pub when I saw her. She was dressed as Hitler and screaming obscenities at passing children. I ducked into the pub and hid there until I was sure she had gone. Even then, when it was dark and the streets were deserted, I couldn't relax.
That was a close call.
March 31 2004
Today it rained. It rained and so I got wet. It didn't stop raining all day... it was like a biblical scene. It got me thinking about the great flood and the rainbow that appeared afterwards. God's covenant with man that he would never flood the world again.
It seems like a pretty empty promise. God is so powerful, he can destroy the world in a million different ways. Simply refusing to flood the world hardly limits his choices. He can still use earthquakes, tidal ways, stray comets and nuclear bombs. Poor old mankind: we're on a hiding to nothing.
March 28 2004
Today a man came round to read the meter. He was Indian, bald and middle-aged. He had a pleasant, avuncular moustache and fluffy, peaked sideburns. I answered the door naked. I had forgotten to put on any clothes. That's what happens when you live a life of hermitude - you forget social foibles such as clothes. I apologised and grabbed my pyjamas.
Once he was in the house, I snuck up behind him and rendered him unconscious with a single blow to the back of the head. Then I tied him to a chair and put the kettle on. I placed a packet of frozen peas on his bruised head, had a nice cup of tea and waited for him to come round. There is never any point in rushing these things.
An hour or so later he started to moan, so I handed him a glass of water and gave him my least threatening smile.
"Sorry about all this," I gestured to the ropes binding him to the chair. "But you can't be too careful."
He looked at me in blind terror. I felt sorry for him, despite myself.
I bent down and looked him in the eyes. "Did Colonel Ramirez send you?"
"I... I don't understand. I am just here to read your meter... British Gas!" he sobbed.
"You're quite sure you don't have a message from Colonel Ramirez?"
"No... why have you tied me up? I just want to read your meter. You're crazy man. You can't just tie people up."
I shrugged. I've had this kind of experience before. "Your story sounds plausable enough, I suppose." I pondered whether to untie him or not. "You're quite sure that Colonel Ramirez didn't say anything about a microfilm?"
"I don't know no Mr Ramirez! I am coming here to read your meter. For God's sake, let me go!" he shrieked.
I sighed. It was a warm afternoon and the sunlight made me smile. I gingerly untied him and warned him that if he mentioned this afternoon to his superiors, he would be in very serious trouble. He stumbled out of the chair and propped himself against a wall. I opened the front door and he bolted fearfully into his British Gas van, before disappearing onto the High Street.
Of course, I was only winding him up with all that Colonel Ramirez nonsense. I don't know anyone called that. But just think... this morning he was a fiftysomething meter reader, and now he is embroiled in international espionage. How exciting.
March 25 2004
This morning I woke up to find myself in bed with a beautiful koala bear. I don't know how she got there. She has the most enchanting eyes.
March 22 2004
The doorbell rang. I looked at my alarm clock. It was 3.00am. I closed my eyes and pretended I hadn't heard it. It rang again.
I put on a pair of jeans and answered the door. It was Jesus. He looked terrible. His hair was unkempt and their were grey bags under his eyes. He stank of whisky.
"You had best come in," I said.
He sat down on the sofa and I put the kettle on. He stared shamefacedly at his bare feet.
"What's wrong Jesus?" I said. "It's not like you to ring the bell at this time of the morning. You're normally so considerate."
"I... I...I can't say."
"Is it your dad? I know he gives you a hard time about dying for our sins and everything."
"No," he scrunched up his face and sobbed. "It's not him. It's you."
I didn't say anything. I made two cups of
coffee and handed one to him.
"I love you," he said.
"Of course you love me," I sighed. "You're Jesus. You love everyone."
"No... I mean, I do love everyone, but it's different with you."
I approached him and put my hand gently on his shoulder. He pulled me towards him and pressed his lips against mine. I felt his straw-like beard against my jaw. I felt his tongue trying to prise upon my teeth. I pulled away and wiped myself lips against my sleeve.
"Jesus. I like you. You're a good kid. You've got a big future, but I don't like you like that. I don't go for Messiahs." He didn't say anything.
"You can sleep on the couch," I said. I climbed the stairs and went back to bed. I was going to have to have a quiet word with God.
March 17 2004
Today I got a visit from the Albanian mafia.
They were two short, thick-set men in their early thirties. They were both wearing shell-suits and leather jackets. I answered the door and they muscled their way inside.I sat on the sofa and they stood over me, glowering. One of them spoke English - the other one just shrugged and grunted.
"You buy cigarettes, no?" said the English-speaking one. I nodded. He slapped a pack of Lucky Strikes onto the table.
"WE buy the cigarettes around here," he stated. I nodded and took the packet.
"Last week you bought a carrot cake, no?" he asked. Once again, I nodded.
"WE buy the carrot cake around here." He signalled to his colleague, who reached into his stripey plastic bag and pulled out a carrot cake. He tossed it onto the table.
The English-speaking one bent over and stared at me. "I don't want to hear no more stories about you buying things. WE do the buying in this neighbourhood. You want something... you tell us... we buy it for you."
They left. I cut myself a slice of carrot cake. It was delicious.
March 15 2004
Success at last! I have been approached by a publisher! No doubt my cutting-edge journal has Fleet Street buzzing with excited gossip. From now on I shall not want for money, women or fast cars. In two years time I shall own my own Lear jet and complain to Montell Williams about my crippling cocaine habit.
My publisher's name is Benjamin Fasto. He says he will pay me 1000 pounds not to publish my journal. He says it's an abomination... I must say I am flattered. He says it is his life's ambition to ensure that none of my writing ever reaches the public. He says that he saw a vision in which an ecstatic Jesus told him his mission in life was to stop me becoming a published writer. He doesn't even believe in Jesus, but was utterly conviced when he saw my journal.
I calculate that if every publisher in Britain stumps up a grand to stop me writing, I shall be financially secure for the rest of my days.
March 8 2004
Ugh... I slump. I slouch. I snore. I am overtaken by inertia. Time slows down and crawls onto my belly.
I am not going anywhere.
Is there any point in moving? In blinking? It's all such such a terrible waste of energy. I was always led to believe that we reap what we invest in life. But the market is unsteady... I do not feel like investing. I shall hide my money under my mattress.
March 6 2004
I was stumbling through Wood Green, trying to pretend I was somewhere more pleasant, like Baghdad. A pretty, bespectacled young lady approached me.
"I can't help but notice that you are smoking Marlboro Lights," she giggled.
"So?" I replied.
"I am also smoking Marlboro Lights," she said. "Don't you think that's unusual?"
"Not really," I said (honestly)
"You have very soulful eyes," she said, peering closer. I could feel her fragrant breath upon my face.
"I'm wearing contact lenses. I have almost no soul."
"I find you very attractive", she continued. "Can I make love to you?"
"Ok. I suppose so," I said.
We returned to my hovel and had perfunctory sex. She gasped in pleasure and writhed at my every indifferent touch. Afterwards, she said the experience had been the highlight of her life.
I suppose some men are just gifted.
Emily Dickinson has this to say about March:
We like March, his shoes are purple,
(I have made these words very small because Emily Dickinson is less important than me)
What a nice poem. Or is it?!?
March is in fact, a terrible month, full of plagues and locusts and angry bin men. Ignore March - unless you are Julius Caesar, in which case ignore March, but beware the Ides of March.
February 29 2004
How big is the universe? How big is the world? I will tell you.
The universe, the world, the nation - it is all my house. I was born in this house and I will die in this house. Nothing else exists. I have mapped every corner in this house, I have catalogued every crack in the floorboards, every snag in the carpet, every scratch on a wooden table. I know it all. I have maps and charts and diagrams, explaining routes around bannisters and wardrobes. I have pressed my face into the carpet like a pope blessing the ground. I have marvelled at the erosion of paint around lightswitches. I live in a beautiful world.
The television tells me of other lands. Of other houses, parallel universes that mirror my own. Of houses upon houses upon houses, stretching into a mathematical distance. I smile at the thought that there may be life in these other universes. But theory and hearsay are not enough. I cannot hold myths in my hands. I know only my own world, and it revolves around me, not around a painted sun or a sullen moon. I do not dream of streams or trees or cars that rumble into the silent night. I dream of the lacquer veneer on my desktop, of the fading green patterns of my mattress. I dream of real things, not of legends.
Was Adam lonely in Eden before God created Eve? I doubt it. He knew no other life. He was born in solitude and made the world his own.
And so it is with me. This is a world. I do not know of a woman's salty lips pressed against my own. I do not find long, blonde hairs on my pillow. I do not hear waves crashing onto my shore. I know only the embrace of wood against my feet and wallpaper against my hands.
Am I unhappy in my universe? No. I am no explorer. This is enough. I do not dream of an escape. My world is no smaller than anyone else's. The human mind expands and contracts to fit itself into the world. This is my house, my Earth, my universe. It is billions of miles in size... I will never chart it all.
February 25 2004
Today Clark Kent came round for tea. He is such a clutz. He spilt the milk all over his trousers and then managed to knock over a vase while he was cleaning up. He is a fool. He will never amount to anything - not like that lovely Superman. Now, there's a real man.
Febrary 18 2004
I was sitting at home, smoking Marlboro Lights and swigging a bottle of Gaviscon when The doorbell rung. I found this pecualiar because it was late and also because I have no doorbell.
A young woman was at the door. She was brunette and had sparkly eyes and a woolen scarf. She was wearing a pair of knitted pink mittens. She wanted to know if she could depend on my vote in the local council elections.
I smiled (never a good thing for me to do) and explained that she shouldnt need to depend on my vote! Surely there were other voters out there? What kind of campaign was she running if she needed to depend on my vote was my one vote really going to make a difference.
She looked taken aback by my response so I took advantage of her confusion to invite her in for a cup of tea. I told her that if she didnt come in for a cup of tea, I would definitely not be voting for her. She acquiesced and came inside. I reminded her of the old saying about Dracula, that she had entered freely and of her own will.
Once I had made the tea, I got down to the nuts and bolts and asked her about her campaign issues. What did she think of immigrants.
She politely told me that she thought that immigrants were a vital part of our workforce and boosted the local and national economies. She explained that there was a lot of scaremongering about immigration, but that the majority of immigrants were law-abiding citizens who wanted to contribute to society. I patted her on the head and said that she had answered correctly. Her hair was silky and smelt of henna.
Then I asked her what she thought of the moon.
She paused and looked at the floor, confused and embarassed. I pointed out that she hadnt touched her tea.
I repeated my question. Was the moon a threat? Was it friend or foe? Had she noticed the moon behaving strangely recently? Was the moon an overused metaphor in poetry and popular song?
Her voice cracking, she asked to leave.
I told her that she had always been free to leave. She hurried out the
door, her eyes moist with nascent teardrops. I told her that it had been
a pleasure to meet her and pointed out that I was not registered to vote
in local elections. I hope to see her again soon.
February 15 2004
When I was a child, my parents would take me to the beach. They would splash around obscenely in the sea, and then bury me in the sand. One time, they buried me up to my neck. Then they drove home. The tide came in, and if it weren't for the straws they'd placed in my nostrils, I would have drowned.
They had strange ways of showing love.
February 10 2004
I have my theories. I have my theories about life and people and all the other stuff. They call me a fool. Well, talk is cheap. Show me the Benjamins.
Let me tell you about my friend Frank. Frank works for the local council, clearing up the borough. He is an enthusiastic and dilligent employee: no piece of litter is too small to be spiked and collected by Frank. He has won numerous "Employee of the month" awards because of his dedication to his work. And he loves his work, he really does. He feels he is making an active, worthwhile contribution to the community. Everyone knows him and appreciates what he does for the area.
Except... except when he is drunk. Not even drunk, really... when he has a drink - it may be a small glass of Merlot or a shot of Bell's whiskey, it could even be a half of shandy - he becomes a different person. His eyes glaze over. He voice lowers an octave and he acquires a different accent. He becomes someone else.
When he is in this state, he undoes all his good work. He rips apart rubbish bags and strews the contents across the streets. He takes empty cans of coke and imaples them upon railings. He finds plastic bags of garbage and tips them over the fence into the patches of foliage by Alexandra Palace station. He goes to the bottle bank and loudly removes the glass, smashing it on the pavement.
When he awakens the next day, he has no recollection of his destructive actions. Some people say that he bottles up his feelings (resentment, rage etc) and that's why he screws things up when he is pissed. That is wrong. Frank is an agent of balance - he is subconsciously working to acheive cosmic alignment. He is an example of the forces that keep society in check. Sober, he is a force of order. Drunk, he is a force of chaos. To some degree we are all agents of balance: the doctor who treats his patients but beats up his wife, the accountant who fritters away her money in the pub, the comedian who wallows in sadness. We do and undo. Three steps forward, three steps back. It's like a nice dance.
And they called me mad.
February 5 2004
I have been looking through my old letters. Being a cult figure, random strangers often correspond with me. Some of them use email (pointless, I do not have a computer) but the majority sent me letters. Most of them are not correctly addressed. Sometimes the author just writes THEMANWHOFELLASLEEP, A CAVE, LONDON on the envelope, but somehow the letters reach me. The post office hates me.
Most of the letters are drivel: women declaring undying love (but they always die in the end), men asking me for advice and charities soliciting my participation in media events.
Here is one letter:
"Dear Manwhofellasleep, ha ha, I've been watching you. You thing (sic) your pretty funny, no? Well you're not funny. You're an idiot. My sister says she saw you in a pub and you are short and ugly. I've got your number.
By the way, you claim to be an expert
on MARRIAGES, so why are you still SINGLE?!? Haha ha ha ha.
I should get angry when I get those kind of letters, but I can see a cry for help when I receive one.
Some of the letters make me sad. You see the infinite possibilites of other people, and then remember how disappointing they are.
The Rocazo is a savage wind that blows through north London. Every year it tears up trees and destroys dry cleaners. It is a very localised wind. In Muswell Hill it is legendary, but in Crouch End it is totally unheard of. Some people do not believe in the Rocazo. These people are fools.
I fear the Rocazo will come soon. But now I must go outside - I may be some time.
January 29 2004
I wandered down to my local park. There is an animal enclosure and I like to watch the deer and ponies and feed them twigs or bits of masonry that have fallen off my crumbling house.
The weather was clear and I ambled beneath the canopy of trees, the sunlight shooting through the leaves and blinding me. I pressed my face against the enclosure fence. I could see no animals. I waited. The animals are crafty and sometimes blend into the surroundings. I waited longer. Still, the animals failed to materialise.
A park employee approached me and tapped me on the shoulder. He had a bushy moustache and an eye-patch. I didn't trust him.
"I expect you're wondering where all the animals have gone," he said, chuckling.
"Yes. I liked them," I replied.
He laughed heartily. It sounded like a child's bones being broken by an old tractor: "I killed them all," he said.
"Why? Why did you do that?" I asked, my heart swimming with sorrow.
"Because I can!" he screamed, before running over the hill and disappearing into the nameless fog of north London.
People are cruel.
January 26 2004
If I could, I would marry a cigarette. So slim, so shapely. The tempting invitation of tight tobacco and inch-long filter. Marlboro, Mayfair, Silk Cut, Lucky Strikes...Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. But she does make me cough... It must be love.
My mother asks me when I'm going to get married. I tell her when I meet the right girl. She tells me that she knows the right girls. I keep quiet and eat my greens.I know the kind of women my mother likes...
January 23 2004
Today I did nothing. Yesterday I did nothing. Tomorrow I will probably do nothing. I'm absolutely knackered.
January 21 2004
I was locked overnight in Londis. The High Street is my enemy. It conspires against me. It resents my arrogance. The High Street, with its friendly banter and limited range of overpriced chocolates, is friend of the ordinary man. And whatever else I may be, I am not ordinary.
It wasn't even near closing time. It was 2.30 on a Thursday afternoon. I had popped in to buy some strawberry milk. I perused the newspapers and gazed sadly at a selection of pies. When I turned around the shopkeeper had disappeared and the front door was locked. A second later the lights flickered and died. I pressed my face against the window. Outside, people walked by. When I screamed for help, they stared and shook their heads, and though I were a death row prisoner pleading with a priest for help. They all ignored me.
After an hour I settled down and accepted that I would be stuck there overnight. I ate a jar of peanut butter and drank a pint of milk. I slept uneasily and dreamt that I was trapped in a large, well-lit Tesco. I have never have particularly imaginative dreams.
The following morning the shopkeeper woke me up and I complained that he had locked me in overnight. He laughed and claimed that I had just walked in the shop ten seconds ago and that I obviously had a strange sense of humour. He was insistent that I had only just entered the shop.
The strange thing is that I am tempted to believe him. My mind is travelling in strange directions.
January 15 2004
One of my less successful ventures was my computer dating company.
My first customer arrived in the post office (I was using a corner of the post office as a temporary workplace) and filled in a form telling me what he liked (a good senes of humour) and what he didn't like (foreigners). I nodded and whistled as his wrote down his answers.
When he had completed the form, I told him I had the perfect match for him if he wanted the date now. He seemed surprised at the swiftness of my response.
I pulled an old laptop out of my bag and handed it to him. I informed him that it was broadbanded up, and that I had bookmarked plenty of porn sites. I told him I'd leave him alone with it for an hour and then return to the post office to collect it when the date was over.
He wasn't happy. It turned out he wanted to date a woman, not a computer. People are idiots.
January 11 2004
I got a taxi. I wasn't going anywhere, but I wanted a conversation.
"Smile, It might never happen," said the driver with relentless chirpiness.
"I know," I said. "It never happens."
"So, where you going? Work?"
"Yes," I lied. I didn't feel like explaining that he was giving me a lift to the tube station so I could travel straight back home.
"What do you do?" he asked. A song from the Eighties played on the radio. I tapped my knee in rhythm, despite myself.
"I'm a personal shopper," I lied again. "I buy things for rich people who don't know how to spend their money."
"Nice job," he said.
"Not bad." - the trick with taxi drivers is to remain non-commital on every issue. "What do you do?"
"What do you mean? I'm a taxi driver."
"Yes. Yes, of course you are."
The rest of the journey was silence. We drove past a broken down bus and a pack of teenagers having a fight. I paid him £15 and got the tube home.
January 9 2004
I was five years old.
I saw a penny. I picked it up. But all day long I did not have good luck. In fact, I was hit by a car and broke my arm.
Ever since then, I've had a mistrust of nursery rhymes, sayings, aphorisms and fables. I wish I had more faith in them.
If you wish upon a star.
January 5 2004
I am on the roof. I can see Victorian chimney pots. In my neighbour's garden I can see a weeping willow bending against the wind. I see a council estate on the horizon, black and silver in the fading twilight. I can see buses and cars, gridlocked on leafy suburban roads. I can see the moon, pressed flat like a coin against the map of the sky. London is spread before me.
And so I think about all these lights, twinkling at dusk: houses and flats, bungalows and tower blocks. Each one of them filled with awful humanity with men and women, children, toddlers and babies, all running around or sitting in lazy chairs or pacing up stairs. Each tiny building in my view is brimming with life, and each life has its own unique, bittersweet story, its own unique tale of existence.
Except it doesnt. All the houses and flats are empty. The lights are all off. The televisions are all dead. There are no posters on the walls. The beds remain unmade. The kennels are silent there are no dogs whining for meals that do not come. There are no stories to be told. No one is there.There is no one here except me. Thats it.
A new year! I can hardly contain myself! Who knows what exciting adventures I shall get up to in the coming 23 months! No doubt there will be action and intrigue, romance and tragedy, laughter and tears! All human life is here within me.
December 31 2003
The end of another year. I look back on the last 368 days and survey my triumphs and failures. More failures than triumphs this year. I must stop killing people and thinking it is art.
December 23 2003
Kevin Spacey came round. He's an old friend and whever he's in London he visits me. I've known him for years... from before he was remotely successful. You may rember that he turned up at the Labour Party Conference when Bill Clinton was giving a speech. I organised that. But as he gets more famous, so his disguises become more elaborate. This morning he rung the bell dressed as a postman, complete with Cockney accent and banter about the weather.
We sat in the lounge, smoking fags and watching the telly. As you probably know, Kevin is an Anglophile and is fascinated by all aspects of English culture.
The Bill was on the telly.
"Who's that?" asked Kevin, pointing to the screen.
"Todd Carty. He used to play Mark Fowler in Eastenders. He's in the Bill now."
"Why the Bill?"
I sighed. It's an explanation I've had to make many times: "Eastenders is the most popular soap in the country - much more popular than the Bill. When actors want to leave Eastenders, but aren't ready to be released into the general public, they are shifted onto the Bill. They'll play a bent copper for six months until their fame subsides and they are ready to be non-famous. The Bill is like a half-way house between fame and obscurity. If an Eastenders star were just quit the soap without going through the Bill, they's suffer from the sudden drop in the pressure - it's a bit like divers suffering from the bends if they surface to quickly."
"Oh," said Kevin, scratching himself. "This Todd Carty fellow. Can I meet him?"
"You're Kevin Spacey. I'm sure he'd like to meet you."
"Can we go round to his house and eat Jammy Dodgers and play backgammon?"s
"I don't know. You'll have to ask him."
December 20 2003
It has been a long time, hasn't it?
I grow old. Soon it will be Christmas and then New Year, and before I know it we will have entered another year. I have tried swimming backwards in time, like a salmon, leaping heroically against the flow, but it is useless... time carries me onwards. I remain the same, but the world changes my reflection.
I am getting fatter - my clothes no longer fit me, and T-shirts rip when I flex my arms. I am a superhero of flab. My diet lies by the wayside; I scorn its naive optimism. I shall clothe myself in fat. In swathes of inpenetrable flesh. I shall armour myself with cholesterol and kingly jowls.
I shall become a blob of power.
The becoming is soon: I must leave.
December 8 2003
Today I had another appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr Morfeo. I sat in the damp room and told him that I thought I was making progress: I now understood how to resolve some of my conflicting feelings towards my parents. I asked him what he thought? There was no reply.
It was only then that I noticed Dr Morfeo's absence. I left the consulting room and asked his secretary, Moira, where he was. I noticed she looked emotional.
She told me that Dr Morfeo had been killed in a car crash last week. I asked if it was a quick death. She told me that it was a slow death and that he probably suffered enormously. Then I asked her if I would be charged for today's session. She said she didn't know.
It's very frustrating. I really felt we were breaking new ground.
December 5 2003
I was in Sainsbury's. I was going to buy myself some Golden Grahams, an apple pie and other Christmassy victuals. I was wandering down the aisles, lost in contemplation. Actually, I was just lost: supermarkets are bigger than they used to be.
I was wandering through the tinned goods section when I saw Robert. Robert was a friend of mine until he went a bit weird. He didn't appear to be shopping. He was standing perfectly still and had surrounded himself with perfectly piled stacks of tins, so that only his head was poking out above the tuna and beans. I stopped and looked at him.
"Hello Robert," I said.
"Shhhhh...." he winced. "Don't draw any attention to me."
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Nothing. I'm just standing here."
He sighed. "People leave me alone here. I can stand here all day and people don't notice me. I'm happy."
"Yes, I understand that. But you're standing in a supermarket, surrounded by tins." I was stating the obvious.
"I'm hiding. Like I said, it makes me happy. Isn't that enough?"
"Ok. But I need a tin of tuna. You're using them all for your hiding place."
"Do me a favour... just take one from the top level. If you take it from the bottom, the whole thing will collapse."
I gingerly removed a tin and stood back. A small part of his neck was now showing. I picked up a packet of quick-cook pasta from another aisle and placed it in front of the gap. Robert didn't say anything.
I felt a bit sorry for him, but I reserved most of my pity for my fellow shoppers.
The year is drawing to a close. It means nothing. Do you think the geese care about calendars? Do you think cows care that a new year will start? No.I must remain vigilant.
People ask me why there are so few women in my journal. I tell them to mind their own business and then run away. No. I like women, but they do not trust me. They see my unshaven mask and they flinch. They do not like my extensive collection of pornography and crossbows. They consider me boorish. It seems my years at the Swiss finishing school were wasted: I remain a disgrace to polite society.
November 29 2003
I was standing outside my house, smoking a cigarette. A young Indian man, walked past wearing an Eminem T-shirt and a leather jacket. When he saw me smoking, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights and lit a cigarette. It was the saddest thing I've ever seen.
November 24 2003
Last night I had dinner with my good friend Dr Dolittle. Many myths and half-truths surround him. Some of them are true: he can talk to animals (and more importantly, they can talk back to him) but he isn't a doctor. The animals just decided to call him doctor because he had more medical expertise than they did.
We sat in front of the TV, eating chinese food out of aluminium cartons.
"How are the animals?" I asked.
"Fucking grumpy," he replied, spitting chicken chow mein onto the carpet. "They never stop complaining. The soup is too hot, the room is too cold. London is too crowded. No-one has any manners anymore. They never stop whinging."
"Oh well," I said. There isn't much you can say about grumpy animals.
"In general, animals are the most ungrateful bunch of things in the world. I hate them." More chow mein spilled onto the floor.
"Oh," I replied. "That's a shame."
We didn't talk much after that. We finished watching Heartbeat and I went home.
November 18 2003
Today I waited for a bus. I was trying to get home. When I got to the bus stop, the electronic indicator said the first bus would arrive in six minutes. It was dark and rainy as winter evenings tend to be. I looked at the indicator a minute later. It said that the bus would arrive in seven minutes. I was puzzled. But I waited, because sometimes in life all you can do is wait. A few minutes later I looked again. It said the bus would arrive in ten minutes.
After a while I stopped looking at the indicator. I waited for half an hour. The bus didn't come. I walked home, wet and angry. I hate this city.
There is a moral to this story: never put your faith in electronic indicators... they are the tips of a giant rotten iceberg that juts nastily out of the sea of civilization.
Also, if you are driving through town and you see a short man walking home in the rain, it is most likely me. Take pity on me and give me a lift.
November 16 2003
Last night I saw a shooting star. It crashed into my house.
Sometimes I have no luck at all.
November 14 2003
Today I had my poker evening. It's a little informal get-together I have every few months. A few of the gang come round and we play a few hands of Texas Hold 'Em. It was a nice evening. Simon and Yasmin le Bon, Malcolm Rifkind, Eddie Grant, Elle McPherson, Eric Bristow and my uncle Claude came along. Bristow won as usual... he has a terrible booming laugh every time he wins a hand. Frankly, he's not very plesant. Still, other than him, everyone was on top form. More than the poker, it's just an opportunity for a few likeminded people to get together to talk about politics, contemporary art and skiing.
We had a few glasses of Cognac and Yasmin prepared her famous cheese and chicken fondue. It was a sumptuous spread. She's a delightful woman. Simon was talking about his new role in a touring version of Checkov's The Three Sisters. He plays all the parts and throws in a few Duran Duran numbers in the interval - he is very much a rennaissance man.
I lost about £30... it's a small price to pay for erudite company. Everyone left about 2am, and judging by the way that Malcolm was flirting with Elle, I doubt either of them went home alone. If I was the gossipy type...
November 8 2003
Everyone has a hobby. Some people collect comics. Some people put ships in bottles. I build prisons.
I have built myself a beautiful maximum security prison. Sadly, I built it too well, and now I can't get out.
November 6 2003
Each week I drink 44 cups of tea and 31 cups of coffee. I eat 28 sandwiches (10 chicken salad, 10 chinese chicken and 8 coronation chicken). I also eat one peanut... just one... no more, no less. The peanut is the secret to my weight loss.
I have no idea why, but that single peanut allows me to eat whatever I like an maintain my svelte waistline. no one believes me... Dr Atkin's magic meat diet has stolen my thunder. But Dr Atkins was a fraud... he had no interest in losing weight, he just wanted desperately to discredit the potato.
Please try my diet, but remember: just one peanut... any more than that and you will not lose weight. Any less than that and you will suffer terrible stomach cramps.
All the great poets considered becoming electricians at some point in their lives. Of this I am sure. At first glance there doesn't seem to be a great similarity between the art of rewiring plugs and the art of writing poetry, but you need to dig beneath the surface... far beneath the surface... below the crust, below the mantle... right down to the core of the earth.
At the centre of the earth you will find a very lonely man. He is an electrician, and works at making sure there are no earthly power failures. He is lonely because he has no friends... he must work alone. He isn't even allowed a pet eagle, as most surface-dwelling electricians are permitted. He sits there, admiring the relentless heat of the molten earth core, and waiting for something to go wrong. He has a lot of time on his hands. So he write poetry. Most of it is rubbish, but some of it is very good.
How do I know? Because he sends me poetry... whenever there is an earthquake, I search the surrounding areas and normally find a small notepad that he has sent up to the surface. He uses earthquakes as distractions. It's a clever idea... poets have always used nature - he just uses nature in a slightly more literal manner. He is pastoral, like an unhappy goat.
Every electrician I have ever met had been a frustrated poet, longing to swap filaments for similes. But I suppose they have to make a living. I have considered publishing an anthology of poetry by electricians, but I am no publisher. I can hardly read.
October 29 2003
Halloween will soon be upon us. I shall turn off the lights, crawl under the sofa and make no sounds. I don't like Halloween. Together with Bonfire Night, it pushes me over the edge. I am not nervous by nature, but loud bangs and children just scare me.
October 24 2003
I shall tell you a secret. A dark secret. In my attic there is a painting. It is a painting of me. But it is no ordinary painting. This painting has magical properties. You are all no doubt familiar with the Painting of Dorian Grey. My painting is similar - but with a terrible, ungodly twist: for, although I age, and grow more wrinkled with every passing year, the painting remains exactly the same!
I dare not look at that hideous portrait of youth!
October 18 2003
My homeless friend Clive is dead. It wasn't even me that did it. He was beaten to death by a group of angry pacifists. He had been sitting outside my house, bragging about his role in the (first) Gulf War when they pounced. It was all over in a matter of minutes. He didn't stand a chance.
War does strange things to people.
I buried him in my garden, where he had been at his happiest. There are now 16 bodies buried there, and I am beginning to run out of space. I may have to buy a bigger garden.
October 17 2003
You may notice that my last entry contained a lot of brackets (parenthesis for the picky). Let me explain: I made a deal with my mobile phone network where I get 100 free minutes (free!) and 50 texts (also free!). I also get 100 brackets (free), but I have to use them within the month or they expire. (So I am using a lot of them).
October 15 2003
The homeless man who lives in my garden is complaining again. Frankly, he's a whinger.
I used to leave out a saucer of milk for my cats, and it wasn't until months later that I remembered that I don't have cats and someone (or something?!?) else was drinking the midnight milk. It was then that I met Clive. It was he who had been purloining my feline dairy treats. He was an alcoholic ex-army colonel who had fallen on hard times. He had lived on the streets, but said that he preferred living in my garden because it reminded him of army exercises and happier times.
Encouraged by my success with the milk, I started leaving out catfood and fish heads. I assumed (wrongly, it turned out) that he considered himself a cat and only ate food that cats would want. (I once found him rolling naked around under my sycamore tree, playing with a ball of wool, so you can't blame me for jumping to conclusions)
Clive has been complaining recently because the Independent newspaper is now available as a tabloid. It was his newspaper of choice for sheltering himself in cold weather, but now that people are buying (and later discarding) the tabloid (which is considerably smaller than the broadsheet) his toes are exposed when he sleeps.
I suggested he started using the Guardian, but he said it always took an anti-army stance and he refused to use it on principle. I told him not to be so choosy. He lost his temper and told me that the tapas I had served him were only lukewarm. I think I shall get the rat poison out from the cupboard under the stairs.
October 11 2003
Today I went to the shops and when I came home, my house had disappeared. Everything in life is temporary.
October 8 2003
I haven't left the house in ages. I can't. I cannot find my shoes. It's a long story...
Every so often I have a paranoid delusion that the Nazis are coming for me. I suppose I shouldn't have spent my teenage years religiously reading The Diary of Anne Frank.
One night last week I awoke in a cold sweat, comsumed by blind panic. I was convinced that the German SS were coming for me, despite the fact that they disbanded some years ago and were never hugely successful in north London in the first place. I rushed into the kitchen and barricaded myself in. I knew that I had enough supples (tinned goods, apple juice, angel delight) to last for a few weeks. I boiled the kettle and prepared for solitary life until the Nazis (or indeed my madness) passed.
For the next three nights I did not sleep. I lived in the kitchen on a diet of Belgian waffles, coffee and whipped deserts. I sat and waited... every footstep in the street filled me with fear. The Nazis had not yet come for me - but I was not ready to relax.
I looked down at my shoes. Hand-crafted in Peruvian leather by the Incas of Machu Pichu, they are my pride and joy. I gazed at them and tiny tears formed in my eyes. I had an epiphany! Maybe the Nazis would come! Maybe they would drag me away, but I was damned if they were getting their hands on my shoes! Under cover off darkness, I crept into my garden and buried my shoes. I sneaked back into the kitchen, and for the first time in many days, I slept.
I awoke to find it had rained all night. The rain has washed away my paranoia. I felt better than I had done in weeks. Sadly, the rain had also reduced the garden to a boggy marsh - I had no idea where my shoes were hidden.
Over the last week I have dug up huge chunks of my garden, but to no avail. I still cannot find my shoes.
I still can't get over Johnny Cash's death. He was always my favourite tennis player.
I shall always remember the moment when he won Wimbledon and scaled the spectators to hug his mother and father - a great sporting moment. And he was wonderful with the ladies.
September 30 2003
Today someone was talking to me about love. Well, they were talking specifically to me.. they were on the radio. In fact, it's highly unlikely that they were talking to me, since I don't own a radio. I was in the grocery buying milk. They always have the radio on in the grocery. If I bought more milk (or the same amount of milk more often), maybe they could afford to buy a television - I am plagued by attacks of guilt.
The man on the radio - let's call him Steve - said that love was just when you put another person's needs before your own, and know that they do the same for you. Frankly, I'm not sure Steve has ever been in love.
I once made a model woman out of kebab meat (her hair was lettuce). I loved her. Then I ate her.
September 25 2003
Don't get me started about the price of cola in pubs! It's a sham. It's just syrup and water - they must make a bloody enormous profit.
September 22 2003
It has been a quiet day. Too quiet, but there is nothing I can do about that.
Now is the time for me to write about some strange things that happened to me last winter. I was hoping to save my story for the tabloids - I had assumed they would pay me a great deal of money to serialise my astonishing tale, but it seems that none of them are interested. Don't get me started about the state of the British press...
Anyway, it was last December and I was cleaning out my wardrobe. I had retrieved an old pair of socks from the back of the wardrobe when I was stunned to see a shaft of sunlight peeking through a crack at the back. This was very strange, since my wardrobe is nailed to a concrete wall, and concrete walls tend not to radiate natural light. I pushed at the wardrobe's flimsy wooden back and it gave way. So did I. I tumbled down through the hole and found myself in a strange and magical land.
Knowing my children's stories, I assumed that I had found a secret passage into the wondrous land of Narnia! What fun!
I looked around. It was a grey, bleak environment. I pulled myself to my feet and spotted a fat, middle-aged man standing by a bus-stop.
"Are you Mr Tumnus?" I asked him.
"What?" he replied.
"Mr Tumnus, the friendly fawn," I said.
"No. I'm Mick. Who the fuck are you?" He said. I believed him. He was not Mr Tumnus - Mr Tumnus had manners!
"So, this isn't Narnia?" I asked.
"No," he replied, rolling up his sleeves in a way that indicated imminent violence. "It's Barnsley."
And so it was! It seems that rather than finding a secret passage to Narnia, I had discovered a wormhole that transported me to Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I was disappointed. It cost me £50 to get a train home. I am not a rich man - £50 is a lot of money to me.
I know my story sound unbelievable, and indeed I was drinking heavily around that time, but I assure you it is all true.
September 20 2003
How I long for sleep. For some sweet relief from the curse of consciousness. My life is limping from one disaster to another.
I keep on stealing cigarettes. Normally it is just one or two that I steal from friends. It happens because I persist in buying myself 10 cigarettes in the morning, when I actually smoke about 15 a day.
However, on Sunday my cigarette theft escalated to a whole new level. I was walking through Finchley Central when I saw a truck driver (easily identifiable by his moustache) walk out of a newsagents. I stopped. He bent over to tie a shoelace and I rendered him unconscious with a swift kick to the temples. I jumped into the cab of the lorry and sped off. I drove to my east London lock-up and parked the lorry.
I opened up the back of the vehicle and found myself in possession of 50,000 Mayfair Lights.
I have already smoked about half of them. Where I can get hold of more? My chest hurts and I stink of tobacco, but my cravings for fags/theft have not subsided.
September 10 2003
I found myself wandering around Wood Green shopping centre, when "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand came on over the loudspeaker. I froze. I dropped my mobile phone on a child. Tears filled my eyes. That song always gets to me.
As the song played, my mind was filled with images of snooker players: Willie Thorne - first with a mop of unruly hair, then sadly bald. Jimmy White looking young and pasty, then old and even pastier. Ray Reardon. Doug Mountjoy. A teenage Stephen Hendry with a mullet and skin like a car crash. Dennis Taylor wearing even more ridiculous glasses than normal. Cliff Thorburn looking rugged and masculine, as though he was about to audition for the lead in Mike Hammer. All the greats, from the Nugget to the Thai Foon... all those wonderful snooker players filled my mind's eye.
The song finished. I picked up my phone and dabbed my eyes. I can't help it... The BBC onced used the song in a video montage to fill up the time between frames in a tense Snooker final. Since then I have an almost Pavlovian response to Streisand. I can't help it.
Yesterday I went up onto the roof of my house to adjust the satellite dish, as the harsh summer wind had blown it over and my TV reception was suffering.
I was aghast to find a young woman tied up on the roof. She looked terrible. I untied her and led her downstairs. She shook and whimpered as she descended the ladder - she was clearly tired and hungry. Lord knows how long she had been up there. I took pity on her, so I gave her tea and buttered toast at a reduced rate of £1.50. After she had eaten I asked her what had happened.
Loretta (for that was her name) explained that she had gone to bed as normal some days ago, but had woken up to find herself cold and shivering on the roof. She had tried kicking and screaming but to no avail. No-one could hear her and her ball gag muffled her cries.
As she spoke, I got a nasty sense of deja vu. At the weekend, I had been quite drunk on vodka and had crept into a suburban house with my trusty bottle of chloroform. I had woken up the following morning with a splitting headache and little memory of the night before. A chill settled upon my spine as I realised that it was I who had kidnapped her. I kept quiet as she sobbed and wailed. There was little I could do and there is no point beating yourself up over these things. After all, it wasn't really my fault - we have all done regrettable things when drunk.
I comforted her as best I could, and gave her a pound for the bus ride home. I must cut down on my drinking.
August 27 2003
As a child, my mother used to nail me to crosses. It seemed perfectly normal to me and it wasn't until I was 11 and started secondary school that I realised that it was not a common practice. I was the only boy in my class with stigmata, although I didn't really mind, as it got me off games and swimming. My party trick was fitting a 2 pence piece in the hole in my hand. It didn't make me hugely popular, but it kept me entertained. School is never easy for anyone, but I can't say being crucified on a regular helped me feel any better.
I used to ask my mum: "Why are you nailing me to a cross?"
She would frown sadly , as though I were stupid to ask such an obvious question. She would sigh and tell me: "If I didn't do it, someone else would. Thank your lucky stars that it is your mother - who loves you - and not some complete stranger who is crucifying you."
I assumed that when I grew up I would understand her logic, but it still leaves me confused. Still, it is something to talk about.
August 25 2003
Ah, the things I could tell you about Gwyneth Paltrow. She is the daughter of Hollywood royalty Blythe Danner and Bruce Paltrow. Her dad Bruce died a while ago. I felt sorry for. All the money in the world can't buy back a dead dad.
In her quiet moments, Gwyneth sits alone in a room and says, "Is this all there is?" She is very disillusioned about fame. Despite having grown up in a Hollywood environment, she believed in the myth of fame as much as any starstruck cinema-goer. Now that she has won her Oscar and worked her way through a number of celebrity boyfriends, she knows that fame hasn't changed anything for her. She's still the nervous Sylvia Plath-reading adolescent as ever. She abuses her fame because she is angry that it has abused her. She feels cheated, misled. She still has to wake up in the morning, she still has to wipe her arse, she still has to develop intimate relationships with human beings. She doesn't like any of it.
So, if you bump into Gwyneth and she looks angry and let down, you know why. Go easy on her.
August 22 2003
If I were a dog, I would spend all day chasing my tail. But I am not a dog.
August 20 2003
While looking for my fishing rod I found an old cardboard box of paperback books. At the bottom of the pile was a dog-eared copy of my first novel, "The Story of My Life", which I wrote in my early twenties. It wasn't a success, although it does enjoy a cult reputation. It's a bit of a depressing read. The central character is in a wheelchair - at the bottom of an ocean. Not very much happens in it.
The book sold exactly 1000 copies. Of the 1000 people who read the book, 900 committed suicide, and the other 100 went on to become professional footballers. I wash my hands of all of them. All I did was write a book, not tell them to jump off bridges or try nutmegging the goalkeeper instead of blasting the ball into the roof of the net...
By the time I found my fishing rod, it had started raining and I decided to stay indoors. I hate fishing.
August 12 2003
I have been anxious all day. Do you ever have moments when you're socialising with your friends and you worry that you have left the oven on and have to rush home? I do. Often. Except that it isn't the oven that I worry about - it's the fridge. There have been countless sunny evenings when I have rushed home halfway through a tense game of pool, because I am worried that the fridge may still be on. And of course, it never is. It's just my self-tormenting mind playing games with me - keeping me on my mental toes.
Except today. Today, I got the fridge fear. I panicked and sweatily sprinted home from the factory, convinced that the I had locked my front door without turning off the refrigerator. And this once, just this once... I was right.
It was terrible.
Everything was cold. The yoghurts were at their ideal serving termperature. The lettuce was green and fresh. The milk remained uncurdled. Everything was just as I had left it, as though time had stopped. As though the narrative had faltered. It was horrible. I called the fire brigade and crawled back into bed.
August 4 2003
Today I went to the lake. I played a game with the local kids. They dressed in their pyjamas, and I threw heavy rubber bricks into the water. They had to swim to the bottom and retrieve the bricks, just as I did in the swimming lessons of my youth.
It was a disappointing afternoon. Not one of the kids resurfaced. After a while I shuffled off home, before any angry parents turned up.
I cannot sleep. It is this heat... this unbearable heat. I lie awake and sweat the sheets off the mattress. During the day it is even hotter. I regret erecting a giant magnifying glass outside my bedroom - the carpet is constantly on the verge on catching alight.
The magnifying glass was another majestic failure. I have a vast, sweeping vision... but it is flawed. Ideological and emotional cataracts blur my vision. I start... I start, but I cannot finish...
July 17 2003
People often ask me: What is Robbie Williams really like?
And I tell them the truth - that he's taller than me and has dark hair. Of course, people get annoyed by that answer. They want gossip; they want dirt. They want to know if he is gay or not. But alas, I have no dirt to dish on Robbie. He is a very simple, humble man; and a very good friend of mine.
I first met Robbie in 1987. He was appearing as the Artful Dodger in a school play in his hometown of Stoke. By chance I was the hotdog vendor at the school auditorium and I took him under my wing. He was a year older than me, but I was very mature for my age and had already mastered four European languages and set up my own car-hire business. (I was to go bankrupt in 1991. I was sued after the wheels fell off the Vauxhall Calibra that an elderly couple had hired from me - but that is another story for another day.)
Robbie was a precocious young pup, all wide-eyed glee and naked ambition. I helped him out with his maths homework and in return he agreed to let me become his personal manager. I enjoyed dipping my toes in showbiz waters - I took to calling myself 'Sergeant Rocco' and wearing a beret. Robbie would practice his magic tricks and dancing in my roofless shed as I calculated how much we would get paid when he became a megastar.
Sadly, even at that young age, Robbie was prone to mood swings and depression. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he would take a cocktail of cocaine and ecstasy, whilst on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays he would binge on Prozac and Seroxat. On Sundays we would go fishing.
I could see that Robbie was one part Jerry Lewis and one part Ian Curtis - a potentially explosive mix. In an attempt to keep him on the straight and narrow, I put him on a strict diet of whey and wheatgrass. But Robbie was in many ways a typical teenager and he resented the level of control that I exerted over him. He wanted to go ice skating and bowling, but I demanded that he practice his mid-song patter and learn to stumble when he was dancing.
Of course, it is now public knowledge that Robbie rebelled against my authority and ran off to join the circus, where he was employed as a lion.
Despite our falling out, Robbie and I were reunited years later when we were both interviewed on Parkinson. We chatted backstage and reminisced about the good old days in the shed. Nowadays we see each other often. I fly over to LA to visit him in his luxury mansion and he sometimes pops round to my cave to share a pot of tea and a sponge finger.
Robbie is much more famous now, but he is still the irresistible, depressive, self-loathing, cheeky scamp that I knew when I was young.
July 14 2003
My suspicions have been raised. Something fishy is going on in the Afghan grocery around the corner. I can't be certain yet, but I believe they are selling multipack cans of coke as single items - contrary to the explicit instructions on the cans.
This could go right to the very top. Further news as it breaks.
July 12 2003
My novel is almost finished. It has been testing. My idea of starting the story with the death of the central character was innovative, but left me with certain plot issues that were difficult to resolve. Nonetheless, I am nothing if not tenacious (actually, I am nothing at all), and the novel is now complete.
With hindsight, poisoning my literary agent was a rash move. But there is no point crying over spilt milk or dead agents. She died painlessly enough and the police arrested her husband, so it all turned out well in the end.
I am sending copies of my manuscript to all the major publishers. The nice woman from Virago is sure to like the book - there are plenty of strong female charcters and I lifted huge chunks of the middle section from an old Angela Carter book I found in a local library. I am sure that everyone will love the thrilling denoument where the SAS soldier is revealed to be Sputnik, the Russian spy - and also Chantal's long-lost father. It is a story that has something for everyone: sex, violence, romance, ennui, obtuse plot developments and a scene where a man makes 10 cups of coffee. I can't see it failing.
I have awoken from my coma!
The doctors said that I had been in my coma for 2 weeks. Apparently I choked on a peach stone and lost consciousness. I didn't know you weren't supposed to eat the stone. What a terrible waste of fruit!
This is how I awoke:
Me: "Ugh...how long have I been asleep?
What year is it?"
Anyway, it turns out that I didn't miss anything while in the coma. It was a very quiet few weeks.
June 20 2003
Today Jesus came round for brunch. We had coffee and croissants. We read the papers in silence. I did the Times crossword - the general knowledge one, not the cryptic one.
After brunch we played chess. It was a little frustrating, since Jesus didn't really know the rules and kept on moving pieces in ways that weren't allowed. I forgave him. He's not got a very high self-esteem, so I just encouraged him and told him he was playing really well. He's taken enough knocks over the last few thousand years. I don't think he needs more grief from me.
After he had 'won' a few games, he suggested that we play for money. Cheeky bugger.
June 18 2003
Such strange dreams are these. I dreamed that I was a short, hairy man, living in Bounds Green. I was poor and ate take-aways. I smoked too much and coughed throughout the day.
I awoke in my cave, glad that it was just a dream. Just a terrible dream...
June 15 2003
Today I received a letter saying that I have been granted the freedom of London. Initially I was excited, expecting a lavish ceremony and comely maidens. It turns out to be a bit of a crap deal.
The freedom of London simply means that I am allowed to live in an overcrowded city with a non-existent transport infrastructure. I am allowed to be charged huge abouts for short taxi journeys. A mortgage will stay cost me the equivalent of seven lifetime's wages. Cyclists will still cycle on the pavements. Council taxes will still be disproportionately high. Oh dear. It's not very fair at all.
The letter also said that the Mayor of London (not Ken Livingston - the real Mayor) will be bussing in loads of people I went to University with. They will all be given higher paying jobs than me and live in nicer areas. They will discover lovely local markets and fall in love.
After opening the letter and reading it, I had to have a long lie-down. I am going to start work on a time machine, so I can go back to the 17th century and beat up Samuel Pepys.
June 8 2003
Disaster! This morning I opened my biscuit tin for a snack. All appeared normal. The Ginger Nuts were dry but crunchy. The Hazlenut Choc Chip Cookies were flavoursome and satisfying, but someone had tampered with the Bourbon Cremes! At first glance all appeared well, but it soon became clear that someone had prized them apart, removed the chocolate filling and sandwiched them back together. The perfect crime.
This abomination bears all the hallmarks of my deadly nemesis: The Postman!
June 6 2003
It turned out it wasn't the Gods. It was a stray tabby cat. We shared a tin of Whiskas and talked about the old days.
June 5 2003
I awoke, groggy and confused, from a strange and vivid dream. I cannot remember the details of the dream but I know that they involved onions. Fried onions.
I climbed into the shower and washed myself. The water only came in tiny trickles and droplets, but by pressing myself against the showerhead I soaked myself enough to clean myself. The world's problems will one day be solved by plumbers. Can you think of any global situation that could not be improved by decent plumbing? I cannot.
After the shower I slipped into my monogrammed dressing gown and read the papers. The papers is question were not newspapers, as I have not left the house in weeks and my newsagent refuses to deliver. No. I simply read any papers that I could find: adverts for credit cards, takeaway menus, bank statements, even an old copy of Which Lawnmower? magazine. It is important to keep abreast of the issues of the day.
Soon summer will be upon me, and I have been preparing for the solstice. I washed my clothes and even managed to find some fabric softener. The Gods smile upon me. I arranged the ashtrays in my bedroom to form the Holy Signs. Then I coughed up a cigarette butt I must have swallowed last night - one of the dangers of smoking in bed....soon the Holy Ones will come and will tell me if this year's harvest will be good.
Quiet...I hear the rustle of magazines and yoghurt pots....I think they are coming...
Ah, the sun mocks me. Then the rains mocks me. Weather is not my friend. The weather has struck me down, like a French army besieged by the Russian winter. I have sunburn and pneumonia - a rare combination. I have had to leave my cave and spend a few days recuperating at my good friend Antoine's private clinic.
The nurses have been good to me. They wake me in the middle of the night to pinch and prod me. You wouldn't get that on the NHS. They inject me each morning, with a brown fizzy liquid that looks and smells like Coca Cola. I have a sneaking suspicion it may be Coca Cola.
Dr Mendel takes my tempetature by sticking a thermometer into my ear. He sticks it quite far in. He says that my brain is cold and that it must be warmed up, so he has wrapped my head in heated towels that he stole from a local Indian restaurant.
Despite all the treatment, I feel no better. I fear this is a sickness of the soul, rather than a physical malady.
May 27 2003
I spent the afternoon spaying dogs. It's not a pleasant job.
Actually, I lie. It's a job I enjoy immensely...in fact it's not really a job. I just do it for fun. So, if your dog disappears and the reappears without its bollocks, it was probably me. Sorry. He's happier now.
May 25 2003
I have been keeping a low-profile. I am only leaving the house under cover of darkness - Justin Timberlake has been following me.
I noticed Justin trailing me when I got to Bounds Green station. He was milling around by the Post Office, pretending to read the Standard. He followed me onto the train, and sat almost opposite me. He was reading a book about Hip Hop history, but was more clearly interested in spying on me as he only managed to turn two pages in 12 stations. Every so often we would make eye contact and he'd flinch and look away..
I dashed off the train at Leicester Square but he followed me. I made it onto the Northern Line but he was in swift pursuit and followed me when I got off at Tottenham Court Road. I doubled-back on myself and thought I'd lost him, but he ended up in front of me, his mop of dingy pubic hair peeking from around a corner....I turned and ran.
We first met a few years back and things went smoothly at first. He wanted to establish himself in Britain, but was totally ignorant of UK culture. The British tabloids like to pretend that we're still the centre of the universe and it pleases them no end to see a US celeb hanging out with Martine McCutheon or Craig David as though they were global superstars.
So I give Justin a few tips and pointers. I would hardly call myself him mentor....anyway, soon the relationship soured. Justin spent less and less time with the celebrities and more and more time pressing his face up against my window. He's lost it.
Shhhh...I think that's him now. I must go.
May 21 2003
Freedom! Cursed, wretched freedom! Mark and Howard let me go. They didn't even have the good grace to drop me home. They just unlocked the front door and told me to go. I ended up getting the tube back to my flat When I got home I was disappointed to find that there was no large pile of letters ready for me. It seems my absence was not greatly noted.
I checked my email. Just spam. It's annoying...most people get spam from strangers, but I get them from my family - I get emails from my mum saying: "THEMANWHOFELLASLEEP - Would YOU like to have your ironing done, quicker and cheaper than you could imagine!?!"
I deleted it all and went to bed. My siesta lasted until morning.
May 20 2003
I have a nasty cold. To make things worse, I have been smoking heavily. To make things worse still, I have been kidnapped by Maoist rebels.
I didn't know there were any Maoist rebels in north east London, but apparently there are. My current predicament is proof of the wonderful cultural diversity that is modern London. Years ago you might get kidnapped by the IRA, but anything else would have been some exotic fantasy.
Actually, my kidnappers don't seem very exotic. One is called Mark, and the other one is called Howard. They're very polite and keep me supplied with food and drink and even Sky TV. To be honest, I'm quite enjoying it. I don't yet know what demands they've made and I'm in no particular hurry to know. I've told them that my family are people of integrity and won't be willing to pay a ransom. The flat I'm being kept at is pretty cushy, and I've got my eye on the spare bedroom. A lick of paint and it'll come up smashing.
May 17 2003
The rain comes down. It's wet and tastes of water. This will simply not do.
Today I went for a walk. I walked from my bedroom to the lounge, where I managed to crawl onto the sofa. Fortunately, I had left the television on last week, so there was no need for me to locate the remote control and switch it on. We must be grateful for such blessings. The news was on. A man in a suit was talking about a pig that was stuck in a well. It was a very moving story. Tears flowed down my cheeks.
In the end they managed to rescue the pig, although it had broken a leg. I'm sure this all serves as a metaphor for something, but I can't for the life of me work out what.
Maybe one day I will change the channel.
May 14 2003
I slept late and awoke to discover that I had been chained to my computer. These were not metaphorical chain. Oh no, they were real, steel chains, that chafed and itched on my real wrists and ankles. They were heavy. I spent the morning weeing into a plastic cup, before I remembered that I had the key to the chains in my pocket. Whenever I get drunk I end up chaining myself to something.
Why? I don't really know. My psychiatrist, Dr Morfeo suggested that I am preoccupied with the impermanence of things, the fact that things - and people can disappear at any time. I am always surprised and slightly relieved when I wake up in the morning and find that my bedroom has not run off. So far. So, to prevent things from disappearing, I chain myself to them. It's clumsy but effective.
I worry about Dr Morfeo. Suppose he disappears? I will be left alone with my neuroses. I must give him a pay rise.
May 12 2003
I bought a newspaper this morning. I instantly regretted it.
Why are celebrities always saying that their heartbreak has only made them stronger? Whether it be a lost baby, a crippling drug addiction or a recovery from alcoholism, they are always saying how they are now better, stronger people. What is this obsession with self-improvement? All the setbacks and mishaps I have suffered have made me nervous, bitter and scared. That's how it works, isn't it? Life smacks you in the face and you learn not to stick your head above the parapet. Bloody celebrities. Not a brain between them.
I was also disappointed by the lack of free gifts in my newspapers. There were some coupons, but they hardly count. I feed coupons to the pigeons.
May 10 2003
Today I spent the day losing money on fruit machines. They seem so friendly at first, with their flashing lights and their funny noises, and every so often they give me some money. But it never lasts. Somehow I end up leaving the pub with my pockets empty, having eaten 10 cigarettes in an hour.
Recently, I've started just unplugging the fruit machines before I play. I still put my money in, and it reduces the risk that I might actually win something - basically it speeds the whole process up considerably.
Likewise, rather than buying food, putting it in my fridge and then not eating it, I have started just putting my money directly in the bin. It cuts out the middleman and I have never been slimmer.
May 6 2003:
I fear that everyone has gone to the moon. The flat is awfully quiet and the postman hasn't come round for weeks. Tomorrow it is time for my annual bath, and I have prepared myself by trying to remove my vest. It's a painful business as one of the sores on my back has been weeping for days, and seems to have attached itself to my undergarments. This would never have happened under Thatcher.
Baths are funny things. You sit there in the water, sing a little song, and emerge totally clean!
Someone once recommended that I use soap in the bath, but I'm suspicious. It seems to me that soap is exactly what 'they' want people to use in the bath. My father scrubbed himself clean with tree bark and my grandfather used limes. Soap is for ninnies and conscientious objectors.
I hope the water will not be too hot. Last year I scalded myself rather badly after filling the tub with water straight from the kettle.
May 5 2003:
Exciting news! Today I discovered that I am the portal by which the Gods of Olympus may return to power on Earth. It's all very new to me, but apparently I have been chosen as a vessel for the spirit of Zeus! A bit of a result.
I'm not sure exactly how it will affect my life, but I'm sure it will mean celebrity parties and drugs and appearing before supermodels in the form of a goose.
I wrote to my parents to tell them the news, but I'm sure they will be underwhelmed. Nothing I do ever really impresses them. When I was at school I was chosen to be the Second Coming, and everyone was very excited, but all my parents could say was: "Is there any money in it?" I tried to explain that it was a great honour, and that it wasn't really about money, and they just looked to the heavens as though they had heard it all before.
May 4 2003:
Today I went bowling. It was a strange, alien place, populated by 16-year-olds. All the boys looked like members of So Solid Crew, complete with Oxide moustaches. All the girls looked like members of Mistique. I wandered around the alley, like a walking advert against care-in-the-community.
Bowling is strange. It's like a large slice of Americana has been dumped in west London. It made me feel very American. I wanted to go to a Prom and buy a gun and shoot bank workers. The bowling itself was predictable. The ball rolled slowly don the lane. Sometimes it hit the skittles. Sometimes it slipped into the gutter. I can't see it catching on.
On the way home, the London Underground broke down.
May 3 2003:
I sit here at the back of my cave, making occasional forages for rainwater and berries. I must try a new diet. Yesterday I managed to catch one of the Corrs in my mantrap and roasted here for dinner. I don't know which one of the Corrs it was - they all look the same to me. It definitely wasn't the bloke, I'm not that way inclined. Whoever she was, she was bland and stringy, with very little meat on her.
Ah, I think back to my childhood, eating fruit (yes! fruit! It seems so improbable now) and discarding the cores of apples. I would take only one or two bites of the Granny Smith before throwing it in the bin. I hated the cores, with their tiny black pips. And yet here I am eating an entire Corr. Ah, poetic irony, how you mock me!
After I had eaten her, I tipped her bones into the reservoir and went back to my cave. It looks like rain. Oh, but how I wish for some sunshine.
Today a Jehovahs Witness came round for a chat. There were two of them. I managed to mask my displeasure at being awoken before 3pm, and smiled politely. I explained that I couldn't chat to them as I had some very important business abroad and needed to leave for the airport immediately. I think they fell for it. They left me some literature to read. I ate it. It was delicious.
I used to try to deal with Jehovah's Witnesses by explaining that I was 'not of their faith'. But this never worked. As soon as you should any sign of interest in any religion, they see an opening and they pounce. They tell you all about God, and Jesus, and heaven, and the possibility of an impending apocalypse. It all sounds terribly dreary.
After I had wasted a few afternoon talking with them, I decided on a different tactic. When I saw them approaching, I would simply fire at them with my air rifle. It was only many years later that I discovered that this is apparently illegal.
April 28 2003:
This afternoon Simon and Garfunkel came round for tea. I say tea, but I didn't have any tea, so I gave them mugs of hit water with a splash of lemon-flavoured washing up liquid. It's the lemon that adds my trademark 'zing!' Things do not appear to be going well between Paul and Art. There were frosty silences and bitter glares between them, and I suspect that Paul deliberately sabotaged the harmony as they sang me 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. Paul looks very old, and seems to have shrunken to the size of a small child. I had to help him into his chair, as he couldn't reach it on his own. By contrast, Art seems taller than ever, although he is terribly skinny and his halo of frizzy hair makes him look from a distance like a lampost.
I think it would be fair to say that the afternoon was a disaster. I only had two fondant fancies. I ate one and Paul and Art bickered endlessly over who would eat the second one.
In the end I settled the dispute by eating it myself.
April 25 2003:
Work on my sculpture is going well. I have encased the model in brass, and I must say, she looks incredibly lifelike. Her face is a poignant mask of fear and agony. I think it will speak to everyone. Art should be universal - I have no interest in art that speaks only to the chattering classes - art must be bold, decisive, like a hungry fox.
I noticed a police poster enquiring about the disappearance of the model. Apparently, her parents are very worried. Why are people so negative about my artistic endeavours? It says a lot about the state of contemporary Britain.
I spent the whole afternoon wandering around London (Someone MUST do something about the price of travelcards!) removing the posters. The things I do for art.
Welcome to my journal! Even now, Keith, my monkey secretary, is bashing away at an old typewriter, hoping that the random pressing of keys will form coherent words and sentences.
I adopted Keith after a visit to London Zoo. I saw him there, staring at me with his big blue eyes and knew that I had to have him. I sneaked into the zoo after dark and tempted him out of his cage with a series of alluring hand movements. Primates always respond favourably to the visual arts.
Keith has been unhappy recently, so I have put him on a macrobiotic diet. He's a good kid at heart, but a bit mixed up.