You know that thing where you start a conversation and you don’t know where on earth you are going with it, and even as you open your mouth you know that you shouldn’t have done? That you shouldn’t have started the conversation, I mean. The second you open your mouth you know that you have made a mistake and yet you go ahead and do it anyway! I presume you do know that feeling – I mean, I’m not in any position to know if you know what I’m talking about or not but I’m presuming that I’m not the only one that this has ever happened to! And then of course the next thing is that you try to dig yourself out of the hole that you’ve created for yourself and the hole – as we all know – only gets deeper and deeper as we do this. As we try to dig ourselves out. How deep is a hole? How long is a piece of string? I hate it when people ask this actually – it really gets to me. As soon as I realise that someone is about to come out with this rhetorical question I start to cringe and I can generally tell if someone is going to come out with it before they even start. And no, in answer to your unspoken question, I’m not a telepath. I’m just very sensitive. It’s such a maligned word ‘sensitive’ isn’t it? ‘Oh he’s sensitive’ people say and then they piss themselves laughing. What they mean by ‘sensitive’ is of course that you are some kind of tragic snowflake and that your life is an endless series of ‘one imaginary crisis after another’. The very thought or suggestion that someone might be a bit of the tragic snowflake is enough to bring out the malice in people. Pure malice, like a drop of venom dripping from a cobra’s fang. Drip, drip, drip… You know that cobra’s just dying to bite you – it can hardly contain itself! It wants to bite you so badly. The sunlight is glinting off the venom drop as it falls in super-slow motion to the ground. How slow can time go? How long is a piece of string? You know that the cobra’s venom is meant for you. You know that it’s thinking of you, and that its malice is meant for you alone. It’s itching to bite you. It’s itching to sink its fangs into your flesh and you know how quickly it could do that! There’d be this blur of movement, faster than the eye can follow, and then that would be it. You’d wander off somewhere of course. You’d go looking for help, for medical attention, but you wouldn’t get very far. You won’t get very far because your number’s up! You know that feeling you get when you know your number’s up? I presume you do, anyway. I assume that you do. I sure as hell know that feeling anyway – it’s a very panicky feeling. Panic’s a stupid thing, isn’t it? I despise panic so much, particularly when it happens in me! Panic is like ‘oh what shall I do, what shall I do?’ And then there’s this ridiculous flurry of activity. And yet the whole point is that there’s nothing you can do! That’s the whole bloody point, for God’s sake. You’re screwed and that’s why you’re panicking. You’re totally screwed – you wouldn’t be panicking otherwise. On the contrary, you’d be chilled out because you know that there is something you can do! All you have to do is do the thing that you need to do and then – Bob’s your uncle – you’d be fine! So when your number’s up and you know it then you start panicking, you give way to a flurry of pointless activity – ‘what’ll I do, what’ll I do, what’ll I do, what’ll I do?’ you ask. Try to tell me that that isn’t pathetic! Try to tell me that that isn’t worthy of contempt! My whole life is something of a pointless conversation, do you know that? I keep on trying to make it come out okay, I keep on trying to guide the conversation in a positive direction, but everything I do only serves to make it worse. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, as the saying has it. Trying to make the fucked-up lame-ass conversation work out in some way obviously isn’t the answer; that’s like ‘apologising for apologising’ – that’s just compounding your crime! Everyone will really hate you then… So what the hell do you do, that’s what I want to know. What do you do when your whole life is like a lame-ass conversation you wish you’d never started?