Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Photo finished

I run screaming from cameras. Really, my backside is my best side, it's better this way. My dad would never allow himself to be photographed when I was growing up and I just assumed that it was some sort of Irish voodoo, that the flash image would simultaneously steal his soul and forbid him from ever finding his pot of gold. And he needed that pot of gold, by the time he was my age he had four kids, all under ten years old. But lately I've been getting more than an inkling. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to square the rugged, ornery trawler man, with a sloppy, sideways smile and a freckled weather-beaten face that I see in the mirror with the bandy legged jowly clown who acts as my photographic stunt-double. I walk miles each week, do and yes this is hilarious, sit-ups each morning, watch what I eat and drink (recently) and I can feel the changes: the tightening of the skin, the relaxing of shirts that I once wrapped around me like I was lagging a boiler. And yet in every photo there he is: Ronnie Barker with his head on fire, plumes of grey smoke billowing up from that grand canyon at dawn forehead. To be fair I look all right from the hips down, if you dont mind the slight detour of my dog leg. But I look like a man in an old fashioned cartoon who has been fleeced in the market and forced to walk home in a barrel. I dont think like this until someone shows me a photo. So no more photos. I'm depressed e-fucking-nough.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Spine of the Times

I wake up with a bloodshot eye. It is the second bloodshot eye in a month. It is the other eye this time, the right one. I wasn't pleased the last time and asked around. Luckily I was at a dinner party with a phalanx of physicians. They seemed to think it was fine, just a bit of conjunctivitis, so I was mollified (and relieved, the best layman's diagnosis was early stage diabetes! Which might have worried me if I hadn't had a blood test two week previously)But to wake up with another one, a month later, looks like worrying coincidence. I do the worst thing you can do- I look it up on the internet! Amazingly, it's not too bad. They're all saying it's a burst blood vessel. I will not be looking into this.

Besides, I'm more worried about my back. I have pain, and be careful this is complicated medical language, in the hingey bit at the base of my back. It's on the right side, and relates therefore either to my writing hand, and I have been writing a lot lately with all the sliding, bad posture that entails, or to my bad leg as I have been walking on it a lot recently*. Either would be bad news for me as the former is supposed to be supplementing my wealth, the latter my health. It would be a fucker if I couldnt get fit because my attempts to get fit left me too unfit to get fit. There is nobody to shake my fist at, the sky aint listening. I shall shake it at a mirror.

Oh, you men of stone.

*I have been walking on both legs. I feel I should point that out, I dont just hop about Belfast. Though if I did I would use the other leg, the good leg.

Friday, 20 April 2012

five days with no booze and I've walked 40 miles. Oh, and no delicious meat, bread or butter. Still fat, though. rats.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Have been reading C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed". It's his own grief he's observing, his nose rather pressed against the glass. His wife, the writer Joy Gresham, died of bone cancer after just four years of marriage. It's numbed and raw in turn, shot through with his trademark Christian apologetics. In fact he takes no comfort from his religious beliefs: "go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” Surprisingly, he didn't lose his faith, which because I suppose it is just faith, abides without proof. I found an ugly emotion in myself while reading the book: I was pleased that his religion couldn't help him, I wanted his bafflement, his loss. Because I have no faith, no metaphysical big brother kissing my grazed knees better and telling me I'm going to be alright. I've looked for it, I've tried to will it into being, I know the subject and I've put the hours in; I was an altar boy! But it's not there, I'm missing the god gene, the most selfish gene of all. The selfish genie.

His grief is not like my own. He is punch-drunk, concussed. He was dead himself within three years of Joy's death. I don't think I'm about to die, except by the slow, assisted suicide measured out in convenient pint sized units. Mine is an angry grief, it gives me energy. It stops me sleeping, it makes me work for the first time in my life. Yesterday it was nine months since my favourite person stopped being here. In the first few weeks after her death I wrote about 20,000 words about her, a stream of consciousness about how I felt, the pain, the bewilderment, the dislocation. I wanted to remember the pain. Well, I still feel that pain. There is nothing to remember. I stopped writing because the book was all about me. It should have been about Kelly. I'm still here, boring and annoying everyone, she's gone and I really, really miss her. The odd thing is that I now know people in Belfast who never met Kelly. It seems insane that there could be people in this city who never knew her. I think maybe now is the time to revisit what I've written, to see if it has any value, whether there's any of her in it.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Finally dreamed about Kelly. The dream was an odd mash-up of "The Big Lebowski" which I watched for the first time in a very long time last night, and a cautionary tale about the perils of skateboarding. There was a running parallel story about a punk rock singer having shattered both knees by trying, like Icarus, to half-pipe too high. But mostly the dream was Kelly taking me to places I had never been to and introducing me to interesting and fun people that she knew. There was never any sense that she was dead. It wasn't acknowledged in the dream at all. We were just walking around and she was showing me her city, rather as she had done six years ago. It was a snap-shot of how our lives might have been. It wasn't sad, it was just lovely to see her again.