I was frightened by the frightening noise. I was frightened by the frightening things. I was afraid that the very bad thing might happen. I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my entire life. ‘Obey the fear,’ I bawled, ‘obey the fear, obey the fear…’ People looked at me of course. I hadn’t meant to shout out loud like that. Defiantly, I continue to repeat my mantra only quietly, only in my head this time. ‘Obey the fear, obey the fear, obey the fear,’ I said angrily in my own mind. ‘Obey the fear, obey the fear…’
I decided to go for the Meat Supreme. ‘When in doubt, go for the Meat supreme,’ I told myself wisely. When all else seems to fail, when the shifting sands of your fears and insecurities threatens to give way under your feet, then go for the Meat Supreme. I was lonely of course. Always so lonely. I was too afraid to talk to anyone else, you see. Far too afraid. Much too afraid. I was gripped by a fear that was just too great to articulate. No one could see me anyway – I was an intangible and as far as the solid ‘chunky-monkey’ folk of the earthly world were concerned I simply didn’t exist. That’s what it’s like when you’re an intangible…
I wasn’t always an intangible though. I would like to be clear on this point. I used to be just like anyone else – I had a lot of physical interactions with the material reality. You bet I did. Just as you probably do. I say ‘probably’ because I don’t really know. I’m not in a position to say with any great authority. Or any authority at all even. That was a long, long time ago of course. It was an awfully long time ago and to tell the truth I can barely remember it any more. I actually can’t remember. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making it all up, but I try not to go down that road. That’s a bad road to go down, as I know from experience. It’s the worst road to go down. The road of self-doubt.
Self-doubt is a constant companion of mine, you see. Self-doubt and loneliness. I’m an expert on that, you might say – a renowned expert, a world-class expert. I’m a renowned world-class expert but no one has ever heard of me. Naturally no one has ever heard of me – I’m an intangible, after all! I’m one of the intangibles. Not that I know of any others, come to think of it. I wouldn’t know them anyway. Obviously I wouldn’t because they are intangible to me to. Or maybe I’m the only one. On the other hand maybe I’m not. Either way it doesn’t make any difference to me – I’m on my own in both cases. Just me and my thoughts. Just me and my never-ending hopes and fears.
I still have hopes and fears, intangible as I might be. We all have our hopes and fears, don’t we? Even we ghosts still have our hopes and fears. You might not know that but I do. That might not be part of your daily experience but it is of mine. I spend all my time lost in my hopes and fears. I don’t really know what my hopes and fears are, mind you. If you asked me I couldn’t tell you, my hopes and fears are empty of substance, just as I am. They’re intangible, like me.
‘Does time passed quickly where you are?’ you might ask. ‘Does it pass quickly or does it drag?’ The straight answer is that it is both at the same time. That’s a strange thing, isn’t it? I think that’s a strange thing. When I look back, I’m conscious of her time has fled, how quickly it has sped by. It flies, just as they say. It flies like a bird. Like a very fast bird, not a slow one. It’s frightening how fast time goes by. Like some sort of crazy train. Like the Ozzy Osbourne song.
And yet at the same time that time flies, it also drags. It drags unbearably. It drag so much that it doesn’t seem to move at all. You could say that I’ve got the worst of both worlds therefore. You really could say that. How can time fly and drag at the same time?’ you ask, speaking – no doubt – out of a deep and abiding perplexity. That’s just the way it is though. That’s the mechanics of the situation and it doesn’t matter a damn as we understand it or not. Why would it if we understand it or not? That’s what life is like here and let no one tell you different. They don’t know anything anyway. What would they know? People are utter fools when it comes down to it and they simply can’t tell you anything. They want to but they can’t. They’re yapping imbeciles. They are utter yapping imbeciles but I envy them all the same. I envy them so much that it eats into me. It’s not only self-doubt that eats into me therefore but envy too.
Time flies and it crawls but there’s an awful lot of it either way. There’s an endless amount of time here, where I am, but it’s not real. It’s unreal time. There’s an endless amount of ‘un-real time’ here, for what that’s worth. Is that a good thing or a bad thing – what do you think? What are your thoughts about that? Not that you care, of course. Why would you care? You don’t give a damn and I know that very well. I’m under no illusions there. So anyway here I am. I’m sitting here in carriage Number 4 of the crazy train and there’s no stopping. There are no stops. The train is racing through the night, its engines whining insanely like an mad crazy out-of-control turbine, and it’s on its way to nowhere. It’s on its way to nowhere fast.
Old Father Crow is crowing in the garden. Cawing, I mean. He is cawing his head off, cawing fit to burst. Old Father Crow. Can you hear him? You probably can’t, but I can. He’s in my head; he’s cawing fit to burst. He is a spirit guide you see. He comes to see me when I drink the tea that’s made from the sacred root. That old sacred root…
I was afraid of reality. I was afraid of reality in a big way. ‘Why does reality always have to be so very frightening?’ I asked myself. ‘Why? Why? Why?’ The bad dreams are back again. The bad dreams always come back. Reality is catching up with me wherever I hide you see. My hiding places are good, if I say so myself. My hiding places are superb but reality always manages to sniff me out just the same. Reality has a long nose and it’s very good at sniffing. It’ll sniff you out wherever you go.
I get that electric tingly feeling all over my skin when reality starts to get my scent. That’s how I know. The hair stands up on my head. Or it would if I had any hair. Or if I had any head. ‘Why is reality so good at sniffing me out?’ I want to cry out. I don’t however because it’s important to stay very quiet. It’s important to lay low and not draw any attention to yourself. It’s important to be like a stone, as R.D. Laing said in his book.
‘How low can you lie? How low can you lie?’ I wonder. I can lie very low indeed as it happens – that’s my secret art. I can live very low indeed but it’s never low enough! Never low enough, never low enough. That’s my superpower you see, but reality always finds me out just the same. It almost always finds me, that is, but just before it does so I break cover and flee like the wind. I flee as if Satan and all his devils were on my tail. What a sad spectacle.
‘Why is reality so harsh? Why is reality so harsh?’ I ask myself as I flee. It seems unfair that reality should be as inimical to me as it is. What chance do I have? The odds are stacked up against me and all I can do is run. What I can do is run but even my running is doomed. My endeavours are always doomed. Everything I do is do is doomed.
Everyone else has their comfort zone to hide in. Comfort bubble, should I say. They are the bubble-people – they’re always living within their nice safe bubbles. They are bubble-heads. They are the bubblers… Look at how happy they are; look at how content they are. Reality isn’t persecuting them, clearly. Oh no – reality is leaving them well alone. Wouldn’t that piss you off? It pisses me off!
‘New look, great new taste! New look, great new taste! New look, great new taste!’ The Filth of Satan, that’s what I call it! The Filth of Satan permeates this poor wretched world of ours. It permeates every corner of it, every nook and cranny of it. Now that’s OK in a way. I am prepared to accept that this is OK in one way. What’s really disturbing for me however is the way in which we all pay no heed to it, the way in which we are actually quite fond of it. We’re so habituated to the Filth of Satan that we think it’s perfectly good and wholesome. That is super-disturbing – how can the Filth of Satan be good and wholesome? Answer me that, if you can…
I can get so long out of a hiding place, but it’s not so long really. It’s not long enough to allow me to relax, anyway. Much as I’d like to. I’m always looking out for the signs that reality is on to me, I was gearing myself up for the next mad dash for safety once again – as always. Another mad but ultimately doomed dash to safety. It kind of makes a mockery of the idea of hiding doesn’t it? If every time you hide you have to think about running again then that takes the good out of it. It takes every last bit of good out of it.
The running man, they call me. The man who runs. Or rather – the man who runs and then hides and then breaks cover and has to run again, in an eternal repeat. The light is pain for the shadow dwellers, as we all know. The light is pain and all we can do is flee. As a poet said, ‘flee the light, for the light is pain.’ ‘What poet was that?’ you ask suspiciously. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore, wretched shadow-dweller that I am. I can’t stand by anything I say and neither should you…
It’s a very hard life when reality itself rises up against you as an enemy, as I’m sure you can imagine. Where does one turn then? What hope can we cling to? What allies can we rely on in our struggle? But you know the answer to these questions as well as I do, I expect…
My mind was full of malice, of course. Always full of malice, just as a cowering street cur is always full of fleas. Did I say malice? I meant to say something else, something lighter. Something a bit more uplifting for the spirit. Something a bit ennobling, perhaps. Something to ennoble the soul. That didn’t happen, anyway. The wrong word came out though, as you know.
Sitting back comfortably on an easy chair in my imagination I brought a mug of calamus root tea to my lips. ‘Aah’ I said out loud, ‘calamus tea – the freshest brew of all.’ I was imagining that I was in an advert – my own private advert. I smiled knowingly at the camera. ‘Calamus root reaches the places where other roots don’t!’ I told it.
The truth of the matter is that I hate calamus root – it’s so bitter that it brings tears to your eyes. I never brew it, expert brewer though I am. My whole body is a brewery, of sorts. Brewing up strange smells. Although it’s not really me – it’s my internal symbiotes that do it. My internal symbiotes have run amok in the dark places of my body. They are aliens and I can’t communicate with them.
I was busy playing my favourite game – I had gone down to the stretch of coastline where all the flat grey rocks are and had laid down amongst them, arranging my body as best I could. The sunlight was weak, lacking in any great warming power. All around me the hoppers surged, untold hordes of hoppers, billions upon billions of them. More hoppers than the mind can imagine. I started to play my game.
My game was to pretend that the hoppers weren’t there. I pretended that there weren’t any of them, that they didn’t even exist. I pretended that this was a universe in which there were no hoppers. ‘There are no hoppers’ I told myself. If you believe that there are no hoppers then there will be no hoppers. I was exercising the power of my mind. My malicious little mind.
I was tapping into the Reservoir of Infinite Fear. ‘Tap in to the fear, tap in to the fear…’ I told myself. I was hypnotising myself with the power of my mind. My mind was hypnotising me with the power of myself. I was the mind’s bitch – I did whatever it said.
‘Just sit back and enjoy a refreshing cup of high-strength calamus tea,’ I said, with a smile born of long practice, ‘t’s a choice you’ll never regret.’ Life had never been better and it was getting better every day. The calamus tea was getting better every day. It brought a delighted smile to my face every time. I was living in the world of my own imagination. Lying back in an easy chair.
‘Sit back and enjoy our latest product,’ I told the camera, ‘only time will tell if it comes with a whole bunch of nasty side-effects…’ Only time will tell and time can be such a treacherous beast. I was trying to sell a product. I was trying to sell a product that I didn’t know anything about. Perhaps the product is honesty, I thought. I am selling honesty in a world that is dedicated to lies. Only that’s a lie too, of course…
I was trying to tell the truth but somehow the lies kept on tumbling out. The lies came tumbling out of my mouth in gay profusion. I didn’t try very hard though. I’m not very good at trying hard. My motto is always to go for the easy option. I’m like some revolting little worm, always looking for the easy way out. Wriggling frantically, trying to wriggle off the hook. I do hate myself for that, self-respect is hard to come by when you’re always looking for an easy way out. I smiled knowingly at the camera.
All around me the hoppers were hopping. Hoppers are such amazing little creatures. A hopper can jump four feet into the air with ease. They hop like crazy, they hop like crazy mad things. Sometimes when I lift up a particularly big rock there could be thousands of hoppers hiding underneath and they will start jumping almost immediately. After a while the air is full of their laterally-flattened bodies. They’re like grey bullets. They are boiling up from the ground – one minute the ground is covered by hoppers maybe three inches deep, the next minute they’re all boiling away into the air. And then, the next thing after that is that they’re all gone. Not a hopper in sight…
Do you know that very particular situation when a thing has been broken for a long, long time and you have actually forgotten a time it wasn’t broken and so it’s just overlooked the way we always overlook things when they have been broken for a long, long time and that thing is actually you? You know that one, right? We all know that one I’m afraid. Isn’t that the truth? Much as it hurts us to admit it, we all know that one. That’s the story of our lives right there.
I wished to be reminded of my greatness, of which no one else knew, and so I began work immediately on an epic poem, detailing the same. It was to be a poem like no other. I would publish it under an obscure pseudonym and pay for it myself – certainly no one else would publish it. My eyes were clear and my mind was no longer twisted – no longer as twisted as it had been, at any rate. Relatively untwisted, let us say. Let us venture to say that. Although who knows what depths might be concealed in that little word ‘relatively’? ‘Relative to what exactly?’ you might ask and there lies the problem because I have nothing else to go on, only my own twisted logic…
I had negotiated a truce with the dark spirits that had me hemmed in but I was soon to learn that it was a truce which existed only in my own imagination. I had overestimated my own bargaining power and the dark spirits that beset me were more than happy to encourage me in my ridiculous naïveté. Bargaining from a position of weakness, I suppose you could call that. The evil spirits were my masters and always had been, incapable though I was at the time of understanding this. I existed only as their plaything and – looking back to that moment – I can now see that they were tiring of their sport.
Full of the intoxication of arrogance I challenged my enemies to a psychic dual. ‘Show me what you’ve got, you pathetic putrid arse-maggots.’ I told them. ‘If you want to tangle with me then you’re more than welcome…’ I was a veteran of the Psychic Wars after all, and I had endured many things. I had survived if nothing else, and that in itself is no small thing. I had survived, but had I really? Does this count as surviving or does it count as something else? Was my supposed survival no more than an hallucination that had been permitted me as some form of cruel mockery? The hallucination of survival, when in fact there was no such thing. When in fact there was none. And now this poor hallucination – which is all that I had left – was very shortly to be taken away from me.
I was trapped in my mind of course. That’s the usual problem. That’s the perennial problem, the problem that keeps on cropping up. What other problem is there, now that I come to mention it? The old, old problem. The usual problem. I was fleeing from one place of comfort to another and every place I found proved to contain torments as yet undreamt of. ‘Is this my destiny’, I sometimes ask myself, ‘to flee from one place of comfort to another, only to find that each refuge I find contains torment beyond imagining?’ Often indeed I ask myself this question. Often indeed I ask it and the answer is always the same.
People say that I’m a malignant narcissist but I don’t think that’s very fair. I don’t think that’s very nice of them. I’m not a bad guy, I don’t think. Not too bad, anyway. People should try to be more understanding. People say, people say. What do they know anyway? We are all so great at making out that we know what we’re doing, it’s a real gift. It’s the only gift we need in order to get by in life, it seems. It’s the only gift we need in this type of world that we have made for ourselves, anyway. The gift to pretend and not know that we are pretending. What a sublime and miraculous ability that is, and we use it so easily. What a bizarre world we have created for ourselves this way. It’s actually a world in which the most dishonest of us will thrive at the expense of those less able to lie; those of us who are – we might say – handicapped in this department. The inability to deceive ourselves holds us back. It holds us back immensely, I would say. Needless to say, the average person in the street doesn’t appreciate this point, and that’s putting it mildly. We call the ability to deceive ourselves ‘confidence’ and we think that that it’s a great thing altogether. The passport to success, confidence is. Everybody loves a confident person – we want to be near them, we want to hang around with them in the hope that somehow their confidence will rub off onto us. Then we will have the passport to success too. What confidence really means of course is that we can lie to ourselves as much as we want to without ever having to own up to what we’re doing. Without having to know anything about it. That’s the magic right there – it’s as simple as that. We are free to come out with whatever shit we want and as far as we’re concerned we’re speaking God’s Own Truth. Wouldn’t that make you confident? I’d say it would. You can go as far as you like on this ticket. The sky is the limit – if you believe your own bullshit, then everyone else will too! Wasn’t this always the way? Of course it was. And if you don’t have this undoubted gift, this most magnificent of gifts, then bang goes your confidence and then all the others will smell it off you and be repelled. They will be invisibly repelled by reverse magnetism; they will be repelled without fully realising that they are. There is no worse taint than the taint of low self-confidence, as we all know. Suppose it spreads, after all? Suppose it’s catching? Suppose it can leap from me to you like lightning and strike you down where you stand? Suppose it infects you and then one day you start realising that your bullshit is bullshit? That’ll put a halt to your gallop fine fast I can tell you. Then your friends will start to get uncomfortable in your presence. They’ll start to edge away, bit by bit, so as to get out of range of the filthy taint. There’s nothing more repellent to a company of bright shiny egos is the ego that has been infected with self-doubt. Never doubt your own pestilential bullshit my friends – there’s good advice for you. There’s a bit of good solid advice for sure. The best advice in town. Never doubt your own offensively crass bullshit lest the rot set in to your very core and you can no longer be part of society. You will then have to retreat to the shadows and dwell there as best as you can. Mocked and humiliated by the others, made to feel bad about yourself by the others, and then left to stew in your own wretched juices. And that’s far from being a cheerful situation, let me tell you! Far from cheerful, far from cheerful. The others – the ones who have no difficulty at all in believing in their own pathological lies – will make you feel very bad about yourself indeed. You’ll feel bad about yourself because you can’t be like them. Because you’re missing out, because you’ve been excluded, ostracised by all and sundry and treated as if you didn’t exist. The curse resides in you and the others recognise it. Their fear of the curse is great indeed and can you blame them?
‘I have become an ego, I have become a self’, I chanted viciously. I was unhappy, you see. So very, very unhappy. Not that I knew it of course – I didn’t have the necessary emotional intelligence to know something like that. Not even someone who liked me could claim that I was big on emotional intelligence – if you were actually able to find such a person, that is.
‘I have become an ego, I have become a self’, I wailed and my wailing was like the wind. My wailing took on a life of its own, you might say – it took wings and it flew, disturbing the world and those who lived in it. Some of those who lived in it, at least. Most didn’t care. Why would they, of course. Why would they? If ever you hear an unearthly wailing in the trees late at night, when you’re tucked up safely in bed, then that’s me. Spare me a thought, if you will…
All the same, I have to get on with my life, the same as anyone else. We are all the same that way. No matter what, we have to get on with it – with good grace or with bad. With good grace or with bad. I never do anything with good grace but that’s just me. I’ll do it, if I have to, but you can be sure that I’ll complain every step of the way. That’s just the kind of guy I am. By the time I’ve done whatever is I have to do all the good has gone out of it. The good has long since gone out of it.
What does glory feel like, I wonder to myself? What must it feel like, for those that get to feel it? My brain is eating itself trying to imagine what this must feel like. My brain is chewing savagely on itself. It is unendurable torment knowing I will never know. I can try to imagine of course – there’s nothing to stop me from doing that. I’m chasing phantasms when it comes down to it down though – I know well that glory is not something I can ever imagine.
In a way, it’s like trying to imagine drinking water when you are dying of thirst in the desert – your mind keeps coming back to it, but there is nothing there but pain. You keep coming back to the pain therefore, over and over again. You’re tormenting yourself. There’s no point trying to imagine it, all you are doing is reminding yourself of how you are actually dying from thirst. In the very same way, the more I grasp at the understanding of what the meaning of glory is, the more bitterness enters my soul.
I have to know, however. I cannot tear myself away from this fascination. What exactly does one have to do in order to experience glory? There are many other experiences that a human being can taste, but who cares about them? Glory is the richest draught, as everyone knows well. We know it, but we forget it because deep down, in our heart of hearts, we have already given up on this one. The price is too dear, too dear by far, and so we made a compromise. We will settle for second best and that is that.
Are we content with our choice? I think not. I would consider that we are not content. Do we acknowledge our regret, do we face up to it? Again, I think not. I would say that we don’t. Absolutely we don’t, not ever. What craven creatures we are, content to live as worms, content to live so far beneath ourselves. ‘Come now, the life of a worm is not so bad’, the voice of your own cowardice tells you. ‘You could do a lot worse than living the life of worms. Worms have their own ways of enjoying themselves, after all…’
Will we despise ourselves for the choices that we have made? Most surely we will. Without any doubt at all we will. That’s always the way, after all. It is possible to escape from many things, in my experience, but not in the contempt that one feels for oneself for the choices one has made. That’s something we will have to put up with, I’m afraid. I can tell you that with the greatest authority, reluctant as you might be to hear it.
The price for glory is high indeed. We all know that. Far higher than we are willing to pay. We would not pay one tenth of it. The price for denying ourselves glory, for cheating ourselves out of it, is higher still however. It is infinitely higher. Please trust me on that one…
They call me ‘the Eel’ on account of how I am such a slippery customer. I have a certain reputation in these parts, you might say. ‘There goes the Eel,’ they say. ‘There he goes. What a guy. Watch him glide by…’ They don’t really call me the Eel of course. Why would they? They don’t care about me one way or another so why would they bother calling me anything? The truth is that I am painfully awkward in myself, always so painfully awkward. I make a tentative movement in the direction of establishing an identity but I never follow through with it. Nothing works, nothing feels right. Nothing is right. Maybe I am a bit of an eel, after all. A personality eel! ‘How do you do? Pleased to meet you, pleased to meet you, they call me ‘the Eel’ on account of how, on account of how…’ Days of sorrow, days of joy, days of sorrow, days of joy. Only mainly sorrow, of course. Mainly sorrow. Tentative movements in the direction of establishing an identity defined my activity in this world and yet of themselves these activities had no value. Such movements only have value in as much as they lead to actual identity, whatever kind of identity that might be, but that never happens for me. I exist within a miasma of failed and failing identities, floundering about, saying first one thing and then the other, but none of them add up. I am trying to build a mighty tower and yet my endeavours falter and fail almost as soon I initiate them and I am left standing there amidst a rubble of disorganised bricks. Is it any wonder that success in life eludes me? I start off in a certain direction but it never leads anywhere and that’s my problem in a nut shell. When other people hit upon a direction they stick at it and as a result often enough they get somewhere, but not I. More and more I find myself looking back to the early days of my childhood and wondering if perhaps the key to my dysfunctionality lies there. Isn’t that what psychotherapists always say? I’m sitting here and I’m choking – would you believe that? It’s true – I’m choking like a fool. I was eating a digestive biscuit and not paying attention and a bit of it went down the wrong way. I was coughing so much that I spilled a cup of hot tea all over myself. That’s what you get for not paying attention. I was too busy staring at the TV. Pathetic, isn’t it? What wouldn’t you give just for one honest human being, huh? Sometimes though, despite all the odds, a bit of the truth leaks through. It always amazes me when that happens. On the very rare occasion when that happens, I should say. It takes us totally by surprise – it’s actually baffling. Your brain can’t process it. Something true got through? What’s going on here? The prison we are all in is brutally effective and very few of us will ever see it for what it is. This awareness is all but crushing – it’s an awful awareness, a terrifying awareness, an absolutely soul-destroying awareness. There is one thing though, one thing that has only just occurred to me. It only just came to me just now. What came to me just now is that we’re actually designed to escape, despite all appearances to the opposite. In our innermost nature, we are perfectly designed to escape this grotesque prison of ours. If only we knew it.
I was going to give it my best shot. The Narcissus Shot! I was going to give it the Narcissus Shot. My best shot ever. The perfection of the moment, the knowledge that you couldn’t have gotten more right if you had tried. And you did try. There’s lots of anger as well of course. Always lots of anger. Perfection and anger always go together (as if you didn’t know). Perfection and anger. The anger that comes when someone stops you from giving it your best shot. The sheer insane rage. The murderous rage. Perfection is so close and then someone came along to spoil. It isn’t that always the way? Another perfect day has dawned – now watch some bastard come along and spoil it! Isn’t that what they say? Just you wait. Here he comes now. Bang on time. Always bang on time. You could set your watch by him – if you had a watch. Here he comes right now, dead on cue – the obligatory bastard! It’s part of the cosmic equation – perfection and the bastard who comes along to spoil it. The two go together like jelly and ice cream, like roast lamb and mint sauce, like custard and apple crumble. It’s one of those magic combinations – a marriage made in heaven, as people sometimes say. So you can’t pretend that you don’t know about this particular type of anger – this very savage type of anger that comes along when someone casually walks up and spoils the perfect situation that you worked so hard to bring about. If only they knew the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. In that case they would be in an even greater hurry to come over and ruin it! You can bet your bottom dollar they would be. That’s just the way things are. The Narcissus Shot! Give it your best, give it your best. A perfect situation, just for you. I was eating apple crumble, grumbling about the inexactitudes of human life. Not that I knew any other sort. Why does everything always have to screw up? Toxicity has always been a big problem of mine, needless to say. You think you’re having fun and then someone comes along and says the wrong thing. You think that life is wonderful but then the next thing is that someone comes along and looks at you the wrong way and then of course you’re plunged into rage and frustration. That’s how fragile you are. You’re so fragile it’s frightening! So, to get back to my story – I’d given it my best shot but I hadn’t got anywhere. The whole world was laughing at me – or so it seemed – and I had egg on my face. An awful lot of egg. I had given it my very best shot but I might as well not have bothered and so now I was hurt and upset. I was offended by the way things have gone. It was as if I had been standing there with my pants down and my naked defenseless arse momentarily exposed to the elements and an extraordinarily large Asian hornet had flown down from the sky as quick as a flash and stung me with full force on the tender pink skin of my exposed buttocks. Seizing its chance, as it were. There is of course no comparison between the Asian hornet and our local variety – it’s like the difference between a small yapping dog and a ravening Siberian Wolf, or the difference between an amiable drunk trying to talk to you in the park and a deadly assassin who has been paid big money to do away with you. You can’t compare the one with the other. When one of these things stings you it’s like nothing else you’ve ever experienced – you don’t know the meaning of being stung by a venomous insect until you’ve been stung by an Asian hornet. You’re going to let out a roar like nothing you’ve ever heard and fall thrashing about madly on the floor. You’re going to bellow louder than you’ve ever bellowed before. And that’s just for starters. It gets way worse when the poison settles into you and starts to attack your system. That’s how hurt I was. That’s how deeply stung I was. The pink tender slightly over-stretched parchment-like skin of my exposed ego attacked by a hornet that was at least two inches from one end to the other. A hornet from hell. A hornet the like of which you have never seen…
I drank a cup of foaming piss / and then I had an experience of bliss / the wonderful bliss that comes from piss! That was the first line of my poem but I ran out of inspiration shortly after that and didn’t know what else to say. Story of my life really. I’m great for one-liners and then I run dry; everyone turns around to look at me to see what I’m going to say and then I just dry up. I just stare blankly, wishing I hadn’t put myself back in that position. I could never could follow on from anything and that’s across the board. It’s not just rhymes we’re talking about here. As I say, it’s the story of my life.
I drank a cup of foaming piss. ‘Well, why would you do that good buddy,’ you might ask. ‘Who drinks cups of foaming piss, anyway?’ I won’t dignify that with a response though. I won’t lower myself to that level – the level of common dispute. What did anyone ever gain as a result of lowering themselves to the level of common dispute? And please don’t try to argue with me about that. If you wrestle with a pig you’re only going to get dirty, isn’t that what they say? The pig has a great time and you end up with your expensive tailor-made suit all covered in foul-smelling excrement. I don’t mean to insult pigs by saying that – I’m really talking about a certain type of human being. It’s a metaphor, that’s all. Not an insult to pigs. Or if not exactly a metaphor, then some kind of thing like that. We all know the type of human being I’m talking about anyway so there’s no need for me to go on about it. We all know people like that. God knows there are enough of them around. Especially around here.
Never argue with a gobshyte. Never argue with a gobshyte otherwise you’ll end up a gobshyte just like him. Isn’t that right? It’s getting cold now. A chill wind has sprung up out of nowhere and the sun has gone behind a cloud. I wish I had thought to bring a coat. The grass in the park has just been mowed and there are dozens of seagulls walking around in a thoughtful kind of away, looking for worms that have been exposed. I imagine that it’s worms anyway – I don’t know what else it would be. There are crows too of course but not so many of them. I’m sitting here drinking a cup of takeaway coffee looking out at all the seagulls. The coffee is awful by the way. That’s what made me think of piss in the first place. It’s foamy and it tastes of piss. I’m drinking it anyway – I bought it and so I’ll drink it, even if I don’t get any satisfaction from the act of drinking it. No satisfaction and certainly no bliss. Who do you know that experiences bliss on a regular basis anyway? Imagine if you could get coffee that gave you bliss? Wouldn’t that be something? ‘I’d buy that for a dollar,’ as the man said. You know the man I mean – the guy in that film.
Walkers are walking by, looking severe. Why do walkers always look so severe, huh? What’s wrong with them? They almost look disapproving. You’d wonder what it is that they disapprove of, wouldn’t you? I’d like to ask them. I could pretend that I was doing ethnographic research.. I could pretend that I was an ethnologist or sociologist or cultural anthropologist or something like that. ‘Excuse me lady I’ve noticed that you’re looking rather disapproving. Would you like to tell me a bit about that? I’d like to learn about the thought processes behind your frown. All data obtained will be treated with the utmost confidentiality, needless to say.’
‘What are the thought processes behind your rigid mask of disapproval?’ I’d ask. That’s a good line isn’t it? I’m just here from another planet. Doing a bit of human research. Before we invade you and force you all to work as slave labour in the android factories. Or whatever. Something nasty like that, anyway. Maybe the seagulls are scouts for the aliens. You wouldn’t know, would you? They do have very funny eyes. Maybe we are all undercover scouts for the aliens, did you ever think of that? Gathering information. Gathering information for all we are worth. Of course you have thought of that. We’ve all thought of that one at some point. Maybe we are all undercover police agents in deep cover and there are no actual criminals. What would you give for an actual honest criminal, huh? I tell you, I’d run up to him (or her) and shake them by the hand. ‘Thank you,’ I’d say, ‘you’ve restored my faith in human nature…’
Every ego is a broken ego, even the brash and shiny super-confident egos are broken. They’re the most broken of all, in some ways. In lots of ways. The brash and shiny super-confident egos are definitely the most broken of all. ‘What can be done for them?’ I ask myself, feigning concern. I couldn’t care less really of course. I have spent a lifetime identifying with one broken ego after another and where has it got me? What have I got to show for it? Fear was my middle name though and I never had a choice. All I ever knew was fear; all I ever knew was cringing weakness in the face of mild to moderate adversity. Looking back, I can see now that it was all an uphill struggle. A new defeat lay in wait for me around every corner. And what made it worse was that I knew it wasn’t supposed to be like that – I knew I was doing it all wrong. I wasn’t following the script. And then all those brashly confident egos that you are inevitably going to be up against – it’s not enough that they are brash, they also have to be abrasive. They abrade and abrade, all they know is how to abrade. It’s an abrasive world that we live in – it’ll take the flesh right off your bones. Unless you’re one of the brash ones, that is. It’s ‘abrade or be abraded’, it’s the law of the jungle. I’m labouring the point of course. I always labour the point. It’s like I don’t know where I’m going with it so I keep on rehashing on rehashing what I’m saying in the hope that it’ll all come clear. If only I can buy myself enough time. It’s all about buying time, buying time. The point is abundantly obvious however – all the bloody old egos are broken, the ones that are abrasive and the ones that are abraded, the brash ones and the ones that are eaten away from the inside with corrosive self-doubt, the ones that are always relentlessly punishing themselves. Every ego is a broken ego, every success story reeks of decay and corruption. That’s the tragedy of success, I suppose you could say. We see it on all sides, it’s paraded in front of our noses over and over again and we’re supposed to clap and cheer. We are supposed to rejoice in it. The success story of the triumphant ego. Shouting out loud. Roaring out your success. Ascending the stairway of glory – ego glory, that is, folks. The ultimate triumph of the appallingly deteriorated ego. And we are forced to identify with it every step of the way, through thick and through thin. And it’s all thin. So frighteningly thin. The veneer has come off a long long time ago and we’re in a very different territory now. We are in the territory of the ego when all the veneer has rubbed away but we have to carry on all the same. We have no choice but to carry on – as grotesquely repellent as that might be. You’ve started and so now you’re going to have to finish – only does it ever finish? Does it finish or does it just go on and on forever? Through the good times and the bad times only they’re all bad times really. Shouting out your triumph. Roaring as you have never roared before. ‘What can be done to help these poor old egos?’ I ask, pretending as best I can that I actually care. Which needless to say I don’t. You’ve started and so now you’re just going to have to finish. Just don’t expect me to give a shit…