Last night, on the way home from central London, I saw something that shook me up a little. Not something that scared me, necessarily, but something that moved me, affected me…
As I walked down the aisle of the top deck of a bus, heading for the only available seat, I noticed that the man sat on the back row was behaving strangely. He was lying, horizontal, across three seats, and was eating naked tortillas, from a packet. He was about forty-five, maybe a little older, dressed in a black suit, black shirt (unbuttoned a long way), had close-cropped, grey, receding, hair, and had big white bandages wrapped around both of his wrists. And we all know what that means.
My response was not fear, my response was not empathy, my response was an embarrassment of sorts, almost a competitive shame… As someone often accused of being self-indulgently unhappy, seeing someone else, conspicuously unwell, mumbling to himself, with the evidence of a suicide attempt emblazoned on his arms… It made me feel ashamed of the time I went around with a self-inflicted bruise on my cheek last Summer, it made me worry that I was being, that I am, tarred with the same brush as this man, this old, boring, mad, man. And I’m not mad, I’m not mad, I thought to the guy sat behind me as I voraciously consumed Salinger and Clifford Brown YES I’M STUCK IN THE FIFTIES, I’m not mad, but you are. And you’re doing better than me at having a breakdown, BETTER, fucking BETTER than me at doing a breakdown. And that’s what I get CONSTANTLY. The feeling that I can’t even be BAD properly. The gloves are off. The gloves are very much off these days. I am open, wide-open. With Sad Man On A Beach, I have opened up my insides, openly, publicly… Despite years of frequent public, recorded, nudity, I have always shied away from true honesty as regards my mind… But I don’t want to any more, I want to convey, record, write, who and what I am, regardless of whether anyone else thinks that is of any value or not… I don’t want recognition or understanding, I don’t want A THING. I don’t want anything. And that is what makes me so difficult to please.
But when I look at a man suffering so much more than I am, unable to construct a meal, unable to resist the self-destructive urges, unable to sit up straight, not make a mess of his clothes… I worry that I’ll suffer, my intellectual existential angst/teen dream depression will be bundled in with men like that… And then when I think that, I fear that this IS a show, THIS IS an act, I am INDULGING myself by wanting to die. But I’m not. That’s not the case at all. I share, because I like to share. I share, because I have no shame. I share, because I believe it is good to share… I share because I care about honesty. And I care about not coming across as a self-obsessed arsehole.
Other people hurt. Other people hurt more and better and harder than I do. I am more than a frown.
I am more than a frown.
And I worry, when people hear me/see me/watch me moan, cry, hurt, they presume I am as tragic and gone as I felt the man I sat in front of was yesterday. And I’d like to say I’m not. Or, at the very least, I’m trying BLOODY HARD not to be…