Memories of Fentiman Road

When I wrote my first Training Manual entitled ‘Dealing with Demons’ it was an instant success. I was catapulted to fame. It was an instant success only it wasn’t because I immediately found myself being possessed by hordes of demons – they moved in en masse and took me over completely. They were in my hair, up my nose, in my fingernails, in my ears, everywhere. I became the dwelling place for umpteen thousand demons – never (to my knowledge anyway) had so many demons lived in one body. Not since biblical times, anyway.


So that wasn’t so great I suppose. I suppose it would be fair enough to say that that wasn’t particularly great. There would be days when I’d catch sight of myself in the mirror even years later and yet still see the signs of it. Days when I’d notice a certain greyness to my face and a certain haunted look in the eyes. That sort of thing. Reminders – you might say – of the days when I was acting as unwitting host to a horde of voracious demons that massed in unbelievable numbers within my body. They even inhabited my clothing, believe it or not – they were in my socks, in my shoes and even in that dreadful crumpled brown corduroy jacket that for some reason I used to wear back then. They liked to live in the pockets of that jacket – at least a dozen of them, maybe more. The ‘dirty dozen’ I used to call them. They loved that old corduroy jacket of mine and in the end I had to throw it away. I eventually chucked it in a skip.


I don’t want to make too much of those demons. I don’t want to build them up too much – they’re stupid things really. No personality to them. It’s a mug’s game being a demon and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a mug’s game being possessed by the bastards too – I’d smoke a joint and they’d get stoned instead of me! Or maybe it was the shit dope that I was smoking – Moroccan slate at twelve pounds a quarter. Can you believe that? That was a long time ago now course – that was back when I lived in the Ashmole estate just off the South Lambeth Rd in Southwark. Happy days! Or maybe not – it’s hard to know you see. It’s hard to know because of the nostalgia that overcomes me whenever I think of the old days. When I think about the life I had back then and the mates I used to hang around with. Mates like Speedy Frank, Tony and Adam. Those were good days and I’ll never see their like again. I know that beyond any shadow of a doubt – I’ll never see the likes of those days again…


Looking back on them it seems like every moment was precious. That’s how it is in my memory, anyway. That’s what it’s like in my memory. Every moment of those days was like a glass of very fine old wine. Not that I actually like wine mind you – I can’t stand the stuff and never could – but that’s the only analogy that comes to mind. Every moment was golden, every moment was golden. I guess it didn’t seem like it at the time – I can’t imagine what those moments did feel like, actually. Obviously enough. I can’t actually remember much about it, come to think of it. I haven’t the faintest idea what it actually felt like at the time. Maybe I was bored, maybe I was preoccupied. Maybe I was feeling miserable – I don’t know. Oddly enough, it hardly seems to matter now. It hardly seems to matter now and I shan’t bother about it. Who cares anyway? Who cares if I was bored or miserable or distracted with some bullshit or other. Certainly not me and if I’m not bothered then I don’t see how anyone else is going to give a damn!


Memories of the past, memories of the past. It sounds stupid saying that I know – what else would my memories be of? Memories of the future? Memories of an alternative reality? I don’t care if it sounds stupid though – I just like the sound of the words. I like the way they trickle off my tongue. It’s curious why the past often presents itself, in our possibly faulty memories, as being so golden. I wonder why that is? One answer that comes to me is that what I’m really doing here is mourning the passing of my youth. Particularly since I didn’t really appreciate that the time. Which I didn’t. That idea somehow fails to ring true – it’s too intellectual, too analytical. That was first thought that I had, the first thought that occurred to me, but then moments later another possibility came to mind, a much more poignant one. It occurred to me that when I think back to my old haunts such as the SLR and the Ashmole estate and Fentiman Road and  Dorset Rd and Vauxhall Park, and so on, and it seems to me that I had the privilege of living in some sort of magical world, some sort of earthly paradise, then this isn’t the result of me wearing ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ or any crap like that. The real reason – it occurs to me – is that we can never appreciate our life, or where we’re living, at the time because our heads are too full of garbage, too full of rubbish. We are perennially distracted with inane nonsense you see. We’re too distracted. It’s only when we look back – after 30 or 40 years – that we remember things truly. So that would explain why everything seems like rubbish to me at the moment, in the current crappy phase of my life. It seems like rubbish to me because I’m just not able to appreciate it. I won’t appreciate it until I’m dead. So that’s a rather depressing thought, wouldn’t you say?








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