Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bear Necessities, revisited.

Imagine hearing that your best friend is chained to a radiator in a small room somewhere. You don’t know where. And imagine the radiator isn’t really a radiator at all – everyone gets chained to radiators these days – it’s a grizzly bear. The grizzly bear is full of Etorphine and won’t wake until next Friday. When she does wake next Friday, she will groggily paw your friend’s knees and ribs and shoulders for a few minutes and then rip your friend’s face off.

Imagine that.

Now imagine that you have an opportunity to save your friend. This is what happened to me earlier when I woke up. God came down and told me about the room and the chain and the bear and the best friend, but also told me I could put a stop to it all.


A radiator, earlier. 

“But how God?” I asked God. “I’ll do anything to save my best friend. Can I have a look first though? I’ve always wanted to know what a man chained to a sleeping bear in a small room looked like.”

“Always? That’s a bit strange. You can have a look later maybe,” said God.

“Why didn’t you chain him to a radiator?”

“Radiators are boring. Everyone gets chained to radia – hold on, who’s saying that I chained him to a radiator. I mean, a bear.”

“Sorry, you just seemed to know a lot about it. Okay, how do I save him? It doesn’t involve running does it? I can’t bear running. Ha, I said ‘bear’, that’s sort of a joke. Not a good one though. I should have said radiator. Let me have another go. Okay, how do I save him? It doesn’t involve running does it? I can’t radiator running.”

“Well done. And you wonder why your best friend is chained to a bear. Listen: You can only save your friend if you set up a copywriting agency by Friday.”

“That’s all?” I said.

“That’s all,” God said.

“That is quite a bit, though. And if that doesn’t happen then my best friend gets it? Well I can barely believe it. I mean: I can radiatory believe it. Doesn’t work so well the second time, does it? A bit much.”

“Yes, a bit much.” God said.

“Is this a metaphor?”

“Um, no. How do you mean?”

“Well, I’m thinking that my best friend isn’t my best friend, it’s me. And the bear isn’t a bear, it’s my writing career. I suppose the small room represents my life. So: I’m trapped in this small room, my life, and I’m chained – and I must say, I really like what you’ve done with the symbolism here God – to a career that is going to destroy me if I don’t make considerable progress within the next week. Oh, and at the moment the bear, my career, is sleeping. I wonder why I’ve made it a female bear. Is that it?”

“Yes, I suppose so. I didn’t really consider all that. I saw it more as a game you could play with yourself, to test yourself. If your friend really was chained to a bear in a room, and the only way you could save him was to set up a copywriting website could you do it. And if you couldn’t, should you just give up?”

“You’re right. And I will give up. Properly this time. Isn’t this a bit weird though, playing games with yourself like this at forty?”

“No, it’s fine.”

“You’re a bit bored now aren’t you God?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You want to go off and chain someone else to a bear don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”


A bear, earlier. 

And so began my morning. I’ve clearly had enough and am clearly going a bit tonto, but it’s good to set goals. And I know I’ve nearly given up on all this nonsense before, but God wasn’t involved then and that time was only really to elicit sympathy and gain readers (it worked), whereas this time I mean it and I need to stir myself because I’m really, really, really fucked off with it all. And pretty fucked up by it all too. Apologies for the fucks at the end. I was being all respectful and doing well with the fucks up until then. Enjoy your week.


Monday Afternoon Fuck Club

Battling with this terrier-like entity though, even after only a week of it, is wearing a bit thin. He always wants to do stuff. Bad stuff. Well, bad-good stuff. Good-bad stuff. Stuff. Often it’s pub-stuff.

“Oh come on,” he says, “Let’s go to the pub. Down the old pub. Pub pub pub. You like the pub, remember?”

“”I don’t want to go to the pub. I want to go swimming.”

“Swimming? What are you – five? Who goes swimming these days?”

“I go swimming these days.”

“Right,” says my terrier, “let me get this straight. You spend two decades in the pub. You whisk me in there before midday sometimes and then slope off well after it gets dark. You swan in there on the slimmest of pretexts at all hours – I barely know where I stand half the time – and feed me all of these treats and now…this? What even is this? You used to spend days in bed with a bottle of wine glued to your lips now you’re just snatching it away, now you’re giving me…fucking mackerel.”

“That’s right, now I’m giving you fucking mackerel. I’m giving us mackerel.”

“What about Fuck Club?”

“What do you mean, ‘What about Fuck Club?’ Now you’re just showing off. We’ve never been to Fuck Club.”

“No, but we could. People sell crack all around Fuck Club. We could buy some crack and smoke it and go to Fuck Club. And fuck in there, obviously. You’d be happy then. It’d be good for your writing, your precious writing. Monday Afternoon Fuck Club.”

The terrier has a point.

“We don’t smoke crack. And we’re not going to any sort of fuck club. We’re playing tennis instead. Then yoga. Then weights.”

“I hate weights.”

“I hate weights too. Now eat this spinach.”

“And that’s how it is?”

“That’s how it is.”

And that is how it is. Bit of a battle, this, but one I appear to be winning. Sometimes I have to talk to the terrier as if it’s a convalescing grandma (“Come on, twenty minutes in the sun and you’ll feel a whole world better”) at other times like an errant schoolboy (“Look, this is getting silly. One way or another these push-ups are getting done…”) but we’re making good progress.

Monday afternoon Fuck Club does sound fun though. Much more fun than tennis and spinach and industry. Updates to follow.

This is Forty


For days now (I have no idea how many) every minute of every waking hour I’ve either had a drink in my hand or been within three feet of one. The only times I haven’t had this luxury of proximity is when walking to the pub. I say walking, but the sheer elation I know I’m going to feel at getting inside one of those things, coupled with body and mind screaming out for alcohol means it’s less walking and more half-shuddering, half-body popping. I know, not ideal.

Yesterday I was forty. Today, I woke up thinking I was a Greek fishing village. I didn’t feel like me. I didn’t feel like anyone else either. I felt like a Greek fishing village, thought I was a Greek fishing village and contained everything that was going on there. There is no other way I can put it. 

Naturally, I’m both simultaneously fascinated and terrified by this peculiar turn of events. Wine helps to ease the struggle of getting through the day as a geographical oddity. Later my brother says, “I once thought I was the rock of Gibraltar,” which immediately thrills and comforts me, before adding, “But that was in a dream.” I crumple.


A Greek fishing village, earlier.


Everything aches. I sit in a hot tub in the rain. I almost fall into the hot coals in a sauna, then almost wish I had. I drink.


Wake up with almost unbearable tinnitus: a deep, whirring hum in one ear and a high-pitched yelping in the other. I’ve had years of this. I’m not sure I can take much more of it. If there were a nest of vipers at the foot of my bed I would happily slither in and join them. If a canyon full of broken glass, shards of metal, and wild animals existed outside of my bedroom window I wouldn’t think twice about leaping in there. Unfortunately there isn’t, so I settle for attacking my mattress and beating up my pillows for ten minutes. The rest of the day is spent drinking. 


Trying to get off to sleep on Thursday night I soothe myself with thoughts of that time I worked out in Singapore, or that time I worked in the Caribbean, or that time I took a train with my then wife through the centre of Australia and how much I enjoyed seeing the seemingly endless miles of scorched red rock. I feel calm thinking of having lunch under a jungle canopy.

Then it stops calming me. I don’t think of it as me going having lunch in the rainforest, but my brain. It’s not me slicing through the centre of Australia seeing things, it’s my brain interpreting light waves and sound waves and making sense of things. My brain is making my fingers punch numbers into a phone and it’s making sounds come out of my mouth, then it’s making my limbs carry bags and whisk it off to the airport and it gets me to feed it booze and gets me to stick my hand up my then wife’s dress to give it pleasure. My whole sense of self dissolves, and I’m just this terrier-like entity, this mush, this interpretation-machine, existing in my skull. I take quadruple my usual amount of sleeping tablets.


A nest of vipers, earlier. 


Friday is better. I eat fish and plants. I play tennis and win. I swim. I try not to think about my brain. I drink one beer. When you’re better, I say to myself, you should spend the rest of your life being nicer and kinder to people. This thought pleases me. You should also, I add almost unconsciously, try being nicer and kinder to yourself. This one scares me. Have I ever been either nice or kind to myself? I meditate on this for a while until I realise that, not for the first time this year, I’m in danger of crying myself to sleep.


I play tennis and win. Without having to give it much thought, I play poker and win too. I eat fish and plants. I lift weights. I do some yoga. In the evening I buy an avocado in the rain. I turn off my phone. I drink one beer and wash the grill pan. Saturday.


Busy for a Sunday: Internet-taught yoga, internet-taught Shaolin Kung Fu, winning at poker, swimming, sauna. I feel, possibly for the first time, that I’m beginning to work as a person. Colours are sharper than normal. Flowers leap out at me and I sit and stare at them for hours. When I go to the toilet, it no longer smells of corroding metal. I stop feeling scared in my own body and in my own mind. 

People in Boscombe are buying crack cocaine and heroin when I leave the health club. People in Boscombe are on their way out for the night, happy. People in Boscombe are sitting outside drinking and look to be enjoying themselves. Temptation is everywhere here. Part of me wants to join them, to get into trouble. Part of me wants more physical and psychological scars. But another part of me – a bigger and better part – doesn’t. That part of me is intrigued by how far I can take this: this plant-eating, this exercise, this non-drinking, this new-found industry. I feel as if I’ve been on the fringes of my mind’s unedifying canyons this week and, well, I don’t want to be on those fringes  far too often. Let’s see, shall we.