Monday, November 22, 2010

I Renounce Cocaine

How very noble of me. Following a disturbing Saturday night, I have decided to stop crushing, chopping and snorting crystalline tropane alkaloids up my nose.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, I only ever do it for the buzz, and quite frankly I'm too old to sniff myself temporarily arrogant - plus I was aware that seconds after hoovering up each line, my heart started to race disconcertingly. In your Twenties, a racing heart is almost thrilling. At 36, it's a prelude to coronary thrombosis.

Secondly, I just don't know what's in that shit. I totally blame our society which deems it necessary to prohibit certain substances, despite the guile and cunning of certain admittedly unscrupulous individuals who continue to flood said society with said substances anyway. Regrettably, said prohibition renders safety controls and governing practices totally irrelevant, as said substances are fucking illegal.
Ergo: I could be snorting salt.

Thirdly, I have spent two days blowing my nose and seeing a horror show on my tissue of blood, mucus, cartilage and lung, and I'm not massively impressed.

And fourthly, boy, have I been sad. I've tried to analyse it. It's not been quite as debilitating and miserable as depression, but it has been consistent, and painful like a papercut, as if my soul's been mired in a bath of black treacle. My guess is that in getting that high, the coke 'stole' the happiness that was set aside for the coming week and left in its wake an emptiness, a hollow shell - and that's been rubbish.

I think I take drugs - no, I know I take drugs to escape reality; to do something different and daring, to be dangerous and illegal, because nothing sticks it to The Man quite like snorting. It just isn't a law-abiding verb. And in being different and daring, I'm also sticking it to my fucking day job, and the cold bloody weather, and being single, and the unceasing, relentless monotony of being woken up ahead of schedule by an alarm clock five times a week to commute myself to wage slavery.

But it's nonsense. The 'cure' in itself is as pathetic as the cold I'm trying to alleviate. The hard facts are my job I barely tolerate, an alarm I despise, a commute that bores me, and a brief, two-day window of fun I nearly always waste.

Which is why I do coke from time to time.

Or more accurately, did.

Because whatever the reasons that I do it, well, it just ain't working. It's a con-trick, an escape route. I don't become sexier, or funnier, or more confident. Okay, wait, I do become more confident, but if that's all I do it for, then it costs me £50 a gram to feel like that temporarily.

Of course, I could instead think of the Bigger Picture and write and diet and exercise and get more sleep and maybe cut down on my drinking. On the night I decimated that gram, I was disturbed to find the following morning an empty bottle of Amaretto I'd consumed almost single-handedly, as well as half a bottle of scotch and about five beers - all on an empty stomach.

Ah, fuck it. One vice at a time.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Holiday? What Holiday?

I used to think Monday mornings were bad. I hadn't, however, considered a bleak British Monday on the back of a superb holiday in the sun, having picked up a cold some time between Friday night and now.

I'm so fucking happy.

And that's where I am at the moment; stood at the inauguration of a brand new month, totally miserably skint having sunk a grand in two weeks, feeling ill and needing to diet away those new layers of midsection as I try not to think about the paperwork mountain left on my desk last week. All I can do now is hide in my flat feeling guilty; my lovely bachelor's flat that sees no action where the only thing that gets smoothed and caressed are my Marks & Spencers shirts I seem iron every third day as I cry hot tears of routine.

- On my last night in Bangkok, the thunder outside cracked in a distinctly non-Northern European way as the monsoon rains hammered the city like a dictatorial showerhead on a reluctant cat. I was sat in a towel in 77% humidity while my friends slept. It was midnight and in 4 hours I had to get a cab to the airport and a staggered, near-24 hour journey home.

I'd gone slightly nuts on the shopping front, returning with two made-to-measure suits with my name sewn into them (Fweng Ebolo, initially), a copy of an £800 Mulberry bag for my sister, some Buddhas for some soon-to-be confounded Jews and, potentially, gonorrhoea. This had been one of my better holidays, even though I'd spent a lot of time with Monkey Dave's two- and four-year-old kids.

It had been fun at first. Being the paternal, fatherly type, I'd always regretted having got to my age without siring a small football team of offspring, but now I'm beginning to feel like I've dodged a bullet. Children, it appears, are toddling fun-obliterators I should only consider once I start to go deaf.

Dave's kids are absolutely lovely, but it's only just occurred to me, having lived with them on a daily basis, that all children are a combination of the Antichrist and the Terminator; they want to devour your soul, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

If adults did half the things kids did, they'd be committed to an asylum and locked away from decent society, because children exhibit the most phenomenal selfishness apparent in only the most superb sociopath. On a day we'd all been looking forward to - a splendid Sunday buffet in a plush hotel with as many Mai Tais as we could knock back - it was a shock to hear "I want to go home" half an hour in, because they'd eaten you see, and thus the day was done.

And if, I noticed, we didn't keep them occupied with squawks, or pointless lifts into the air whereby the liftee (me) had to go wheeeeeeee! to make it appear that something more than casual hoisting was happening, or flashed anything - a bread roll, a dessert spoon - in front of their chocolate-smeared faces so their easily bored heads didn't have them wandering off into the main road, we were rewarded with a tantrum.

About nothing.


So there I was, sat in the dark miserably waiting for 4am as Dave's fan made my neck freeze, when his youngest awoke. I think I'd managed to sleep through those moments the whole holiday as I'd sedated myself with scotch.
Monkey Dave had work that morning and, as I hid ashamed and embarrassed in the corner of the living room, I could hear him telling his son off though gritted teeth; "Stop it!" he whispered angrily. "Shut up!"
And that screaming, the rampant, irrelevant screaming, subsided - for about four minutes as Dave traipsed back to bed and shut his door - only for his kid to kick off again, bleating miserably as he'd essentially been suffering from 'waking up'.

I swear to god I've never seen the like and for the first time, my perpetual grass-is-always-greener brain got a seat on that other side, where I noticed things weren't that green after all.

But the holiday; it was superb. Too good perhaps as I'm now back home and off work with a redundant throat, the clocks having gone back and the days growing darker and shorter, with everything that's happened consigned to memory; the adorable women on trains (I'm fairly sure they were women) who'd stare back at me without vomiting and made me wonder if in fact I should emigrate to Thailand, the time I paused in shock to stare at the Thai passer-by in the pop-star t-shirt where said pop-star was actually Adolf Hitler, the ironic song on the taxi radio as I was driven in darkness down quiet motorways to the airport; a cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane that, frankly, made me want to cry.

There's something so incredibly wonderful yet upsetttingly fleeting about a holiday; the bliss of having your own agenda, of not being woken up ahead of schedule by a goddamn alarm, the people you meet, and places you visit, the giddying excitement of international travel as you expand your knowledge and your world view as you get that sense in a brief, two-week window, that there's a whole world out there, this real world beyind your shores, a seething mass of humanity and cultures and languages and food and women and dancing and love.

Of course, the only human beings I seem to attract are straight women trapped in the body of gay men who've had their genitals removed and had a crevice fashioned in its stead but that aside, it's nice to remember that after 50 weeks of work, you can go on holiday somewhere for a fortnight.

The miserable truth now is that I have to get out of my day job by trying to complete that abomination of a novel I'm convinced is in me, which means my days are going to be a heady mixture of an admin job I'd rather not be doing while I sweat in a gym, write in the evenings, and cry as I eat lettuce and ruin it all with clandestine cake.

Back to the same old bullshit it is, then.