Mourning

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The election was over. It was morning. Sunshine. I sat on a bench under the new green leaves of an ash tree in a plaza called ‘Place d’Arras’. Ipswich.

The day promised some heat. Hangovers walked slowly up past the Butter Market and into the precinct. Indistinct faces, mostly. Pastel shades of pensioners, young hipsters in converse sneakers, families rushing to do shopping so they could get back home and enjoy the two days of rest before the hell of school and two shitty jobs; jobs that pay for family shopping trips into town. A circular kind of hellish reasoning. Ingenious, entrapping, invisible treadmills. Tedious, pained, soulless expressions. The employed.

An old man wearing too many layers of clothes, walking slowly, headed towards my bench even though all the others were empty. I moved to give him space. He didn’t say thanks, just sat down and sighed.

‘I’m tired,’ he said.

He took two deep breaths, adjusted the rucksack on his back, then left, pausing to ogle a  young women as she tottered past a cafe.

By the side of the church, a group of four guys weaved along the pavement coming up towards the precinct. They were eating what looked like food donations. Almost fresh baguettes and cakes. One pushed a bike. They stopped right by me. The guy with the bike said he couldn’t push it any further. He swayed, dropping the bike on the floor.

‘I know, I know, mate,’ said his friend. ‘When you’ve been up for two days it’s a fucker, ain’t it.’

He took the bike from his friend and put the boxed CCTV home security kit he was carrying under his other arm.

‘We’ll score in a bit.’

By the marina – expensive yachts, sunshine on rippled water reflecting condos and waterfront bars – three homeless guys were in their sleeping bags. One had a huge pile of books. Couple of cans of cider, too. Two Police Officers were harassing them about a report they’d had of someone down there hassling the general public – you know, the safe, co-operative people who haven’t fallen on hard times. Nobody knew anything. It’s hard to be threatening when you’re in a sleeping bag, emaciated, gouching.

England had had an election. The papers were full of it. Big ideas. Hope. On the streets no-one cared. None of it made an ounce of difference. Things were the same as they’d always be; chemical dependence, hopelessness, tedium, futility, lack of direction, the savage feeling of the stone fall of reality on cool summer mornings. Waking up with a frantic sense of loss.

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Journey quietly, friend.

This one is the last of a long line of meds. The one before was a drool-inducing, sledgehammer. Man, sixteen hours of unneeded sleep, waking up sitting bolt upright on the sofa, drool still wet out of the corner of my mouth and all down one shoulder. How’s that for laughs, one tiny white tablet and your life is static for sixteen hours. It was like an instant hangover, in the dark, with your brain doing hallucinatory leaps through the worst dreams you ever had. Quetiapine. Evil. Not a drug for journeying anywhere except to the black recess of some pseudo-subconscious room, where you realise in terror why the light was always left off.

At Ipswich station – just returning from nursing my Mother after her first Chemotherapy – I took some pregabalin, codeine, and diazepam, as a precaution for the five and a half hour journey home. Travel is good. I like travelling places. But when you put people into the mix the whole thing starts to get tough. I hate people. Drugs help. Obviously..

So, yeah, fuck….diazepam and the codeine blend. I’d been standing still on the windy platform, watching the warped Ark arrive opposite and all the grim animals trudging two by two into the arms of the New Age Noah, bound for London. It was hideous. My train started to pull in. I picked up my bags and started to walk, only I sort of wound snaking along the platform behind the queue onto the ten carriage train. ‘I’m fucked,’ I said out loud. A grey haired guy in front in a long, dark woolen coat turned around and looked me up and down. Inside, he was praying I wouldn’t sit near him – I didn’t. Too many lunatics maketh the man…or something like that. And no-one should ever have to deal with me when/if I feel aggressive. It’s unhelpful, and people go off me very quickly, so it goes… But it’s hard to be angry on my special blend. Safety first on journeys, like I was saying. Be prepared.

The train journey was great – change at Norwich (no toilets on the platform, bursting for a piss), then clear through to Nottingham – until we got to Peterborough/Grantham. Tower blocks, back to backs, sheets hung up at windows, graffiti, poverty, beauty-free land, a thousand human beings rolling in filth and masturbating in single bedsits like hordes of lonely Bonobo Chimps. Jacking off beats sobbing. Beats living in Peterborough, too. More codeine.

Back home; hills and fresh air. Into the prescription arms of my Psychiatrist – he rings and speaks softly to me when he has important things to say – and another med. This one is usually used jabbed into the arse of the uncooperative in tight spots where walls are always painted pastel colours and the doors are locked. As it goes, it’s a med you can reason with – I tried walking quickly yesterday, I couldn’t, but in my experience that’s the least of things. Flupentixol: a yellow tablet, helper to many. Armed and hardly dangerous at all. Too lethargic. Yeah, it’s a traveller’s friend. Open pass to wherever. Slowly. NO harm done.