Hello, and thanks for dropping by. As you may know, the first 22 posts of this blog are the text of my ebook, 'How To Become A Crack Addict', which you can read here or buy on amazon, if your morals allow it. Nowadays, this blog is the fairly frequent musings of your faithful blogger, Benjamin of Turnham Green. Today's entry is a sorry tale of relapse after a period of freedom from the maelstrom of 'active addiction', as they lovingly call it. But don't worry, it has a happy ending.
Well, having let my life get even more empty and directionless than usual, I found myself, or should I say lost myself, meandering along the Goldhawk Road of a Tuesday afternoon, officially pleased I was piecing my life back together, secretly seething I'd not been reimbursed for ten blighted years, or awarded a CBE for services to impatience and remorse. A studious pupil, satchel full of lessons unlearned, I turned the corner by the cheap barber's, to find an old familiar door, in maroon gloss.
I knew I'd made a mistake as soon as I arrived, but I'd come too far, and, as the door swung open, and my pasty hostess saluted me, I stepped over the threshold in dread and desire. She ushered me in, and after a few words of polite catchup, I once again found myself ensconced in the gnarled wicker chair I knew from the ruined years, with cat-scratches and sunken seat, breathing in the thick, greasy air, made so by years of cheap cigarettes, and assorted fumes, in a place where the only wind was breathing.
You know what a relapse is like. There's a clue in the name. If you want to read a gory account of one, well, there are plenty scattered through this blog if you look. But what made this day especially galling, apart from the almost unwilling, jittery use of crack, and comforter heroin, was the sinuous presence of a mottled cat, and the scant pageant of humans that passed through in various shades of day-centre chic.
The cat, a tortoise-shell with Marlboro Lite lowlights, frequently insisted on springing onto the table, in search of a bag of fishy treats, last spotted by the ashtray. Rizlas, lighters, and little bits of cling-film would be jostled around before a flapping hand shooed the thing away, lest it caused grievous damage to the wares - but its tail, floating like a comma, punctuated a stained afternoon. And when other people were scuttling from office-blocks, travelling on the tube, thinking what to have for dinner, our gross reunion tapered away, my hostess mostly engaged in mock-medieval battle, and I, in wicker, dragging on flavoured bleach, with a cat's tail arcing like a slow whip before me.
A guest decked out in drop-in denims sauntered in, keen to make a significant purchase, news of which rendered me a sycophant. Would he feel sufficiently munificent to grant me a smoke, a couple more hapless stabs at happiness before I wandered home disconsolate? I'd been clean nearly a year at this point, and things had been so much better...generally...but the casual saboteur sensed it was time to test the rules again, check if the same laws applied...they did...they were way above my pay-grade to dissect. What's more, our denim companion had no intention of sharing his wares, and he was off just as soon as the haggard delivery-teen placed them in his waiting mitt.
So, it was back to me and my hostess, but she was still clashing swords with hordes, and didn't really feel like talking anymore. The feline was still skulking around, springing on and off the table in search of ancient treats, but when, maybe it was fumes, or just disillusionment, it was sick on the wicker arm of the chair, it seemed meet to make my excuses, and I ventured a goodbye. She said how good it had been to see me, I said the same, hating what I'd done, and worrying that she and her boyfriend might think I was back on the beat, ready to be a regular fixture. The cat followed us out, darting under a car, as I spouted assurances I wouldn't be a stranger, skipped a bin-lid with alacrity...but who's this? Denim was dropping in again. He'd been given the wrong amounts, and was down by twenty quid, which is a basic unit of currency in that world. My hostess paid lip-service to his plight, but she didn't want him going back in, just to phone and hassle the guy to cough up, which he almost certainly wouldn't do.
It was over, and head down, bitter as battery-acid, I began the walk home, feeling like I'd kicked a jigsaw all over the floor, one that had taken me months to complete. All I could hope for was to go to bed, wake up some time the next day, regroup, recommit, and kind of forgive myself - but it's hard doing any of those things when your brain feels like it's been paved over.
Like a penitent moth, I fluttered lopsidedly home, singed, ready to stick to the wall for a bit, and not get all hung up about that angelpoise down the hall.
Moth cannot live on light alone.
And that's all I have to say today, apart from here is one of my songs, which you're welcome to listen to by clicking... Revenge Of The Sirens
See you tomorrow, perhaps.