Author Archives: zippypinhead1

Escape From Unreality

 

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It’s so very hard to escape from unreality, I reflected glumly to myself, so very, very hard. Perhaps even impossible. No matter how hard I struggled, it was only ever ‘unreal struggling’ that I was engaged in, and so how was this going to help me escape from unreality? It was all a charade. It was all a farce. It was all a joke. I grew more despondent and demoralized by the second. Was there no hope at all? All of my strategies were – at root – unreal strategies. Every angle that I came up with was, when it came down to it, an unreal angle, a flimsy fabrication born of my own terrible desperation. So how was this ever possibly going to do me any good? With this as a basis, how could I hope to get anywhere?

 

Hope, hope, hope. That word was so bitter on my tongue. I could see with a clarity that could not be denied that all the hopes I had ever clung to were of unreal variety. Naturally they were. What else could they have been? I felt like laughing. Not in a good way, though. Even this goal that was so very important to me, the goal of ‘escaping from unreality’, was an unreal goal, it occurred to me then. The whole endeavour was unreal. The whole concept of escaping from unreality was unreal. This last insight floored me. It knocked me for six. I cannot pretend otherwise – when this final understanding came to me it just knocked the stuffing right out of me. It completely gutted me. What a richly appropriate term, I thought to myself with sardonic humour – I felt like a mackerel lying on the stinking slimy deck of a fishing boat, my insides freshly (and unceremoniously) scooped out. My only future to be thrown in a pile of other freshly gutted fish. With no regard to how important my guts were to me. How important it was that they should be in their proper place, which was inside me. Not strewn around the deck or thrown over the side. This insight was the corker. This capped it all – I couldn’t move on from this.

 

I tried to bounce back from this body blow but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I felt as if someone had just punched me with uncommon savagery right in the stomach, it occurred to me then, as I abruptly changed metaphors. Someone who had the genuine desire to hurt me – as badly as possible. Someone who wanted to inflict genuine lasting injury to me. I also felt, I reflected to myself, switching metaphors yet again, as if someone had placed a giant manhole-cover over my entire world, pinning me down, closing me down, restricting me totally, putting an end to any hope that I might ever have had. Ending my hopes with absolute irresistible finality. I wanted to cry out in anguish but realized that I was feeling too hopeless to do even this. The cry died on my throat, it came out as a mere anguished croak…

 

Fighting down a wave of pure undiluted despair that very nearly drowned me, I tried to recover myself. I tried to regain my customary resilience. I fought off the urge to give in completely. Something inside me kept on fighting. Some core of determination. There had to be a way, I told myself, there just had to be. I just needed to keep looking for it. I needed to gather myself together, to marshal my resources. Then it came to me. I knew what I had to do. I would create a world within a world – I would create my own world.

 

I would ignore all this awareness of how impossible it was to escape from unreality. I would turn my back on all that and begin anew. I would start afresh. I would craft a world that had absolute logical consistency – a world that made perfect sense in every respect. Within the terms of this world there would be no questions, no uncertainties, no grey areas. Everything would be set out ‘just so’. It would be perfect in every way – it would be the way that I wanted it to be. It would be the way I said it should be. True to my word. True to my intention. The only imperfection would be that I needed to create it, to utter it, to intend it, since this world would not exist otherwise. This would be the only illogical detail in the scheme. But once I had created it, perfect in all its details, logical in all its details, then I would pretend that I hadn’t made it, that I hadn’t intended it, and I would move into this world. I would take up residence in it and pretend that this made-up world was the only world there was, or ever could be.

 

And if anyone came along and said otherwise – assuming that someone else could come into this world of mine – then I would get very, very angry with them! I would put a stop to their heresy. I wouldn’t allow any dissenting voices. I would come down hard on them. I wouldn’t allow any other points of view. Any viewpoints other than mine. And then everything would be real. Everything would then be as real as real could be….

 

 

 

 

The Prize

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The time had come for me to go up to the stage area at the front of the Grand Auditorium to accept my prize. It was a momentous occasion, of that I was fully aware. In that mighty auditorium there must have been anywhere between four and five thousand people. It was pretty intimidating, I can tell you! That many people, each one of them a person of distinction, each one a person of great social standing, was by anyone’s standard a very sobering sight. This was a serious occasion and no mistake. In the distance, a brass band played. Trained monkeys scampered here and there, picking up empty coffee cups, crisp wrappers and bits of left-over sandwiches from the floor. Every now and again the sound of an elephant trumpeting rang out, shattering the calm. There was a buzzing of bees. And on each side of me as I walked to the front of the auditorium were row upon row of solemnly attired men and woman, gazing with the utmost gravity at me. Eventually – after almost tripping over the scampering monkeys not just once but several times – I mounted the steps of the stage and received from one of the assembled dignitaries there my prize, which came in a small, brightly-coloured box. I was to make a speech. It was expected. All eyes were upon me. Even the monkeys had stopped scampering and were watching me, baring their gums in nervous anticipation. I became acutely aware of the intense curiosity on their oddly human little faces – curiosity and something else, some emotion that I could not for the moment seem to identify. I could not wait around until I worked out what it was however because everyone was waiting upon me to make my speech. I ascended the podium and spoke into the microphone. “Thank you for this wonderful prize,” I intoned in my best Mandarin, “I am immensely honoured and gratified to be the recipient of such a magnificent gift. This has really made my day…” The crowd broke into sporadic, half-hearted applause, obviously uncertain as to whether I had finished my speech or not. I bowed low, taking my hat off and waving it around to indicate that I had no more to say, and then made by way down the steps and back to my place in the back row of the auditorium, consumed by the need to find out what was in the small box. A monkey ran up to my feet and winked its eye, as if to say “Go on, open it”, before climbing up a nearby curtain and disappearing out of sight amongst the rafters. Overcoming with an effort the strange hesitation that had come over me, with sweaty, clumsy fingers I undid the gaily coloured ribbon and took the lid off the box. It contained a pocket-sized universe, complete with its own miniature event-horizon. As I gazed into it the built-in magnifying glass brought a spiral galaxy into view, against a velvet back-drop of the utmost darkness. As the automatic viewfinder zoomed in still further I could make out a smallish blue-white star, around which a number of speck-like planets were in orbit. On one of these planets several large land-masses were visible. Cities could be seen on the dark side of the planet, made up of pinpricks of tiny lights, scattered here and there around the coastline of these continents. I intuitively realized at that point that I was on that planet, on one of those continental landmasses, in one of those cities. In the capital city of that continent in fact, in the Grand Auditorium, in the back row, staring fixedly into a little box. And at the same time I knew this, I also knew that none of this was real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing It by the Book

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I had done it by the book. I had followed the proper protocol down to the letter. I had applied myself diligently and amassed a fine big collection of preferences, an extensive collection of preferences, a serious collection of preferences. And now, with this under my belt, as it were, I was all set to go. I had done the ground work, I had laid the foundations, and now I was ready to reap the benefits. As a result of my painstakingly careful preparation I was now in a position to launch myself into the world as a fully-fledged, fully-conditioned ego-personality. All systems were GO – the chequered flag was waving and I was there on the starting line. I need hardly say that I was bursting to get started. Wow – what a buzz! What a trip! This was awesome! This was fantastic. I could hardly wait. In fact I couldn’t wait – I wanted it now. I had very strong preferences with regard to having it now. Not tomorrow or the next day. I wanted to get stuck right in this very moment. I could smell the pie in the oven, the richly succulent flavour of it. I couldn’t wait to have a big fat steaming slice of it right there on my plate, with a generous dollop of best Jersey double-cream. I was salivating with expectation. In a manner of speaking, that is. I literally couldn’t wait to put all my precious preferences into action – the stuff I like, the stuff I don’t like; the things I believe in, the things I don’t believe in; the opinions I uphold, the opinions I scorn and revile; the theories and ideas I get excited about, and the ones I laugh at and dismiss out of hand; the people I look up to, the people I look down upon; the situations that make me feel all warm and cosy inside, the situations that I find repellent, the situations that frighten the bejesus out of me. I wanted all of that…

 

It was all so exciting to me, back then. As I say, I was bursting myself to get started, to get right there into the thick of it all. That was me back then. That was me back when I was as keen as keen could be. I suppose you’ve guessed by my tone that it didn’t last. Sure it was good for a while. The ‘honeymoon period’, right? Ha ha ha. That’s a good one. The good old honeymoon phase. How sweet it is. I guess we all know about that old honeymoon phase. I guess we’ve all had our honeymoons – every rotten old addiction that there ever was comes complete with a fortnight in the Maldives, or the Seychelles, or whatever. Don’t we just know it?

 

So here I am, the fun-phase now long gone, stuck in the sheer crappy pointless misery of the contract itself and I can tell you without the slightest hesitation that it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs. In fact it’s so stupendously crappy and awful that it frankly astonishes and bemuses me that anything so mind-bogglingly crappy (anything so utterly and dismally pointless and at the same time so wretchedly compulsive) could actually exist! If I didn’t feel so bad I’d laugh out loud at the absurdity of it…

 

Anyway, that’s what I get for ‘doing it by the book’ – that’s what I get for following the protocol. I asked for it and now I’ve got it… I’ve made my bed and so now… Well, you know the rest. Do I need to continue? Everyone knows how the rest of that sentence goes…

 

One thing I can tell you for nothing though is that being a fully-fledged fully-conditioned ego-personality isn’t all its cracked up to be, not by a long chalk…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making a Statement

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The advert told me that I should be making some kind of statement in life. That way, it told me, I’d stand out. People would notice me. I’d stand out as an actual unique individual rather than being just an instantaneously forgettable generic blank. This got my goat. I hated these intrusive adverts anyway, at the best of times. I loathed them with a passion. “So you’re saying that I’m some kind of faceless generic blank then.” I asked it, spoiling for a fight. Actually I should mention here that answering adverts back is the very WORST thing you can do – it encourages them. “Everyone’s just a blank face in the crowd until they can prove otherwise Nick,” the holo-ad replied philosophically. “Everyone’s a loser until they can prove that they’re not. That’s just the way it is. You shouldn’t take being an instantaneously forgettable blank person personally Nick; blank is the default position. That’s where we all start off from. We evolve from being blank – that’s the start of our journey. When was the last time anyone found anything you had to say interesting, Nick? When was the last time anyone gave you so much as a second glance as they walked by you in the street?”

 

This annoyed me even more because I knew it was true. “Fuck you,” I said. “What the fuck do you know anyway? You’re just a stupid prerecorded holographic advert…”

 

There was a moment’s silence as the advert gracefully absorbed my insult. “I know that Nick,” it replied in a self-effacing manner, “but really and truly I’m only trying to help you.”

 

It had me hooked and it was reeling me in. “OK,” I answered cockily, “What should I do? What should I make a statement about?”

 

This was a stupid question and I knew it the moment I said it, but the ad continued on seamlessly with its patter. “If you choose the right product, Nick,” it said, “that will say something about you. If you choose the product of distinction, the preferred product, that will put you in the frame as a man of distinction, a man of discernment and taste. Product of distinction, man of distinction. The PRODUCT is the statement Nick. Let the product do the talking is what I always say…”

 

“You only always say that because you’re fucking PROGRAMMED to say it, you fuck-witted retarded moron of a hologram.” I said rather nastily, “the only statement I’d be making if I was stupid enough to listen to you would be that I am a complete tosser!”

 

This was only empty bravado though. Just a bit of attitude on my part. In the end I bought the product. In the end I ALWAYS buy the product…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest

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I was on the quest for the super-rejuvenating elixir of eternal life. I was making my way through the woods when I came across a blackbird caught in a thick hedge of thorns. “Help me to escape from these thorns” the blackbird cried out piteously to me as I passed by. “I’m on a quest for the super-rejuvenating elixir of eternal life you dumb fuckwit” I replied, “I haven’t got time to stop to help idiot birds that get stuck in hedges!”

 

I carried on my way for a while when I came upon a fox with its paw trapped in a hunter’s snare. “Help me to get free from this snare” the fox begged me. “Fuck you, asshole,” I answered, “I haven’t got time for that. You should pay more attention to where you put your paws…” Shortly after this I came across a deer whose antlers were tangled up in a chicken wire fence. “Please help me free myself from this fence” the deer implored me. “Fuck you bitch,” I told it, “what makes you think I’ve got time to sort your problems out? I’ve got important business of my own to attend to.”

 

This kind of thing went on for quite a while until I eventually got to the enchanted well which was guarded by a truly hideous-looking hag with bow legs, baggy knees, hairy warts growing out of her tongue and a mass of twirly teeth like so many bizarre yellow tusks which stuck out at all sorts of crazy angles from her mouth. The hag looked winsomely at me through her small red eyes and asked me with a simper for a kiss in return for letting me draw some water from the well. “Fuck that,” I replied, “have you looked in the mirror recently? You’re not exactly going to make it onto the front cover of Cosmopolitan now are you? Get out of my way you filthy decrepit hag before I throw you down your own stinking well.”

 

“Wrong answer,” says she and lets out a great shrieking cackle of laughter, practically splitting her sides with her unholy mirth.

 

And then the next thing I knew – before I even had the time to let out a fart never mind get away – a flock of giant flapping crows appear and, seizing hold of my limbs and head with their vicious claws, carry me off into the depths of the woods. After many hours of flying (during which I got copiously covered in crow shit) they eventually drop me into the darkest and most inaccessible heart of the forest which was  – as I knew all too well – a dark and deadly maze from which no mortal man had ever managed to escape and undoubtedly never could.

 

“Oh fuck,” I cursed, “now I get it. I was supposed to have been kind to all those little fuck-witted forest creatures so that they could now help me find my way out of this shit hole.” I cursed and swore and I cursed and I swore as I realized my error, but it was no good. I really had fucked up this time, as I could now see only too clearly. “Look you little forest animals,” I called out in desperation, “if you help me out of this I promise you I’ll be nice to you next time – as God is my witness I will.” But even as the words left my lips I knew there was no chance that I’d be able to talk my way out of this one…

The Reprimand

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I guess some people are going to call what I’m just about to come out with a bit of a tall story, but I can’t help that. They might call me a complete head-case too but I can’t help that either. I can’t help what other people think – I can’t even help what I think, never mind other people!

 

On the other hand even though I can’t help what other people might think that doesn’t mean that I don’t CARE – I wish I didn’t care but I do and when people laugh at me (as they probably will when I come out with my story) then it hurts. It makes me feel small inside and stupid. It gets to me. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t because it does.

 

But anyway, to get on with my story, it goes back to the afternoon of the 3rd of Oct, which was a Friday as I recall. I was taking a walk by the pond in Mote Park in Maidstone where I was living at the time. As usual I had brought a few slices of white bread to crumble up and feed to the ducks. As usual the ducks swam up to get some of the crumbled up bread and as usual they started pecking at it and getting involved in little squabbles and all that sort of stuff. A few fish appeared and started getting in on the act too. But then I noticed that there was one duck holding back, and what is more – rather than focussing its attention on the bread like the other ducks it was looking up. It was looking up at me.

 

It was actually looking me in the eye, in rather a stern fashion. This gave me a very funny feeling, I have to tell you. But if that gave me a funny feeling that was nothing to what happened next. What happened next really knocked me for six. Holding me in its stern gaze the duck addressed me, by which I mean it spoke to me. Out loud.

 

“Nick,” said the duck, “I’m very disappointed in you. Your life is going nowhere and the sad fact of the matter is that you don’t seem to give a damn. Not once have you made the slightest effort to do something with your life, not once have you tried to actually make something of yourself. You seem totally content to be a lazy, useless gobshyte. You’re over fifty years of age and you’re as useless and immature as ever. What have you got to say for yourself?”

 

I immediately began to protest in a whiney sort of a voice about what the duck had just said, automatically coming out with a disjointed stream of denials and evasions and justifications and excuses and all that sort of thing, but the duck’s steely grey bored straight through me as I blathered on and on and I realized it was useless. I wasn’t even fooling myself. Even I didn’t believe the ridiculously pathetic excuses I was coming out with.

 

I stopped blabbering and stood there – trying for once in my life to be a man about it. Trying to take it on the chin. “You’re right,” I said to the duck, “I need to pull my finger out. I need to turn my life around before it’s too late. I need to cop on and stop spending all my time preoccupying myself with nonsense. I need to stop spending afternoons watching the Jeremy Kyle show and old Star Trek re-runs. I need to stop wasting all my time on the internet and lying in bed re-reading and re-re-reading all my old Philip K Dick novels for the zillionth time. As you say, I need to do something with my life…”

 

As I said this I realized to my surprise that I actually meant it. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I could hear the sincerity in my words. For once, it seemed as if I wasn’t bullshitting…

 

The duck looked at me gravely, and then after a long meaningful pause it spoke again. “See that you do, Nick,” it said, in sombre tones, “see that you do…”

 

 

 

 

Moment of Distinction

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Reaching out all by itself the choice of distinction that special moment… The moment of distinction you might say it’s a style it’s a choice it’s a moment of personal satisfaction your choice of brand it’s a moment it’s a style it’s a choice it’s a hallucination… It’s a personal choice it’s the choice that says something about YOU why be ordinary? Am I mad, I wonder, are these really my thoughts? I no longer feel like I am thinking them they’re just repeating in my head on and on, over and over. And I don’t even have a head anymore, I remembered. The moment the choice the smoke of distinction that says something about you you you you it’s about you it’s about who you are it’s about what you want it’s who you want to be it’s about the way you are why settle for less? It’s a moment for you it’s your time to be who you are. The hand is gone now all that’s left are the thoughts chasing themselves around. The thoughts are telling me things but the things they are telling me no longer make sense they’re stripped bare of the sense they used to have they’re just going around and around and I can see that they’re senseless. I don’t know what sense is any more, I’ve gone beyond sense I’m having a hallucination I reach inside my coat pocket for my fags but they’re not there my fingers close on emptiness, I can feel traces of tobacco at the bottom of my pocket shreds of tobacco my fingers brushing against them with tenderness my favourite brand. Then my fingers are gone too, crumbling gently as I try to gather the few loose strands of tobacco together, disintegrating in sympathy a hand appears from nowhere offering me a fresh pack of Peter Stuyvesant Blues freshly opened savouring the fine smell of them slowly pulling a long smooth King Size cigarette out of the pack, bringing it to my lips… But it’s just another hallucination I realize and so am I. That’s all that’s left of me it occurs to me – a flickering hallucination. First it’s the residual body image then the residual mental image, the thought-forms chasing each other around and around like so many stripy black-and-white fish in an aquarium. It’s a residual me I realize a residual identity it’s who I was it who I am it’s my choice it’s my style it’s my personal expression of the way I am it’s me it’s a brand it’s a unique distinctive flavour that says something about the way you are…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANT

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The heat brings all the weirdos out, I commented sourly to myself as I made my way down through the uncharacteristically sunny shopping street. “Just look at them,” I marvelled to myself, “Where do they all come from? Where do they hide for the rest of the year?”

 

I stopped and looked around at the colourful throng of people. Would you look at that bunch of freaks and misfits. I couldn’t get over it. There were hippies and crusties and long-hairs of every description. There was every kind of haircut on display from dreadlocks to Mohicans. And all types of colours – purple, pink, orange, green. There were skin-heads and there were punks, there were Goths and there were New Romantics. You name it. The weirdest assortment of clothes. Anything just so long as they didn’t run the risk of looking in any way normal. God forbid. We couldn’t have that now could we?

 

I bet none of these hippies ever did an honest day’s work in their lives, I thought to myself in disgust, and yet here they were spilling out all over the streets leaving no room for ordinary folk to go about their business. The lousy heedless freaks. What really got me was their casual, easy manner. This puzzled me on some deep level. They gave the impression of being so happy-go-lucky, so carefree, so untroubled. Not a bother on them. They actually looked as if they were having a good time, for God’s sake. What’s more, they looked as if they believed that they had every right to be having a good time.

 

Then I realized. It came to me in a flash. Of course they looked as if they were having such a good time. Of course they looked happy. They were probably all on drugs. They were probably all stoned out of their brains, as high as you please. Loaded. Spaced out. Out of their trees. On the whacky baccy. On the gear. On the stuff. On the Bob Hope. Snorting the old Lou Reed. Having the crack. They were all just a bunch of damn dope heads when it came down to it. Pill popping social deviants. Bunch of space cadets. Reefer addicts. Drug abusers one and all…

 

Why do we have to put up with this, I thought, getting angry now instead of merely contemptuous. If I had my way I’d have them all put into correctional facilities. Given haircuts. Taken off social welfare. Forced to get do community service. Deported to whatever countries they originally came from. Made to wear proper clothes. That would put some manners on them.

 

What the hell is the matter with the world these days, I wondered. How can they be let away with this? What are things coming to? Am I the only one left who is normal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cody

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Cody was the kind of a guy who took a keen pleasure in his bodily functions. When he was pissing he would look appreciatively at the orange, frothing, somewhat opaque jet of rank-smelling urine splashing against the porcelain and he’d think to himself “good piss”. Sometimes he said it out loud, too. The same when he took a crap. Cody was positively serene when he was taking a crap, like a Buddha or something. He looked like he was being enlightened. Nothing – but nothing – would bother this boy when he was having a shit. “Good crap” he’d say to himself afterwards, with keen appreciation, and the sense of satisfaction he’d get out of it would stay with him long after he’d flushed the toilet. When he ate something it would be the same – a serene, contemplative look would come over his face and you could see he was really getting into it. Eating really focussed his mind. Conversation over dinner wasn’t Cody’s style at all. You wouldn’t want to interrupt him halfway through his vittles. That was one thing pretty much guaranteed to spoil his mood, and you wouldn’t want to do that! Cody loved sleeping too. He did a lot of sleeping, did Cody. It was like a hobby or something with him. Nothing bothered Cody when he was sleeping either – he was the very picture of peacefulness. Slept like a baby every time. It would do your heart good to see him. Cody really knew how to sleep. Other folks often have problems getting off to sleep at night but not so Cody – he could doze away all afternoon in his armchair and still drop off to sleep the moment his head touched the pillow at night, with that beatific smile of his on his face… Mind you, old Cody didn’t exactly do a hell of a lot else other than eating and sleeping and crapping and pissing. He didn’t do anything else, come to think of it, but nevertheless you could see that he enjoyed his life. He got a real kick out of it. He looked forward to every day. I tell you, we could all take a lesson in living from a guy like Cody! I really do think we could all learn a lot from him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Justification

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I had gotten into this kind of a thing where I had to justify everything I did. “Well, I did that because of this.” I would say to myself, “And I did that other thing that I did because of the other thing.” This became very time-consuming, and annoying too into the bargain. It got so that I was forever muttering under my breath, muttering about this and muttering about that. Preoccupied. Self-obsessed. Eaten up on the inside…

The whole ‘self-justification’ thing had really worked its way deep into my thinking – I found myself lying awake in bed at night when all decent folks ought to be asleep going over stuff that I had done in the past, or not done, as the case may be. Recycling events. “Aaah well I had to do that you see,” I would say to myself, “because of the thing”. Or if it was something that I had neglected to do, “Well, I couldn’t do it because of this other thing…”

It was as if my mind had turned into a mechanism for self-justification – a fully-automated mechanism that worked away all day and all night. I was feeling positively ill with all this. Drained and nauseous. Pale and unhealthy looking. Feeling kind of anxious too in case there was something that I had over-looked in all my ceaseless systematic self-reviewing. Something I had forgotten about and which – consequently – I had not excused myself for.

Socially I was a mess. If anyone so much as looked at me I felt that they were accusing me of something. I could see that look in their eyes, the kind of look that told me they knew. I didn’t know what exactly they knew, but whatever it was it made me very uncomfortable. It was definitely something bad. Often I could swear that I felt peoples’ accusing stares burning into my back and when I’d turn around they would very quickly look away, pretending that they hadn’t been looking at me. To say that I was paranoid would have been understating the matter. I was a mess.

I was conscious of looking weird. I was all jittery and jumpy and kind of spooked and shifty-looking and to make matters worse I was going around talking to myself, walking up and down arguing the point, looking for all the world as if I was having a conversation with myself, pleading my case as if I was in the Crown Court or something.

I knew I looked odd and I couldn’t handle the thought that people were looking at me and thinking that I was a freak. Thinking that they were thinking this made me all the more self-conscious – it had got to the stage where I could hardly bear it anymore. I wanted to tell people that it wasn’t my fault. I wanted to explain that I couldn’t help it, that I was behaving in a weird way because of this thing that was going on for me. This self-justification thing.

I wanted to point out that they would be just the same as me if they were me and if they were going through what I was going through. I wanted to explain to them that there was a reason for it, that there was a perfectly straightforward explanation for me looking so freakishly bizarre…