Today I had a realisation that will change my life.
‘Realisation’ is the wrong word. I realised this thing a very long time ago. This morning, however, was the first time I have genuinely believed in it – to the extent that I was compelled to take action.
And compelled I was!
I dressed in seconds, motivated by the claim that Mark Zuckerberg dresses identically every day so as not to waste brainpower on pointless decisions. Thus inspired, I grabbed the closest things to hand, which included my brand new Motley Crue t-shirt.
It didn’t fit.
Of course it didn’t fit. No matter how many t-shirts I buy, I never get the correct size. I have concluded that this is because I am not any size in particular: I am a range of sizes. This is one of the reasons why I cut the sleeves off most things I own.
In any case, it was an unwelcome hold-up in what was meant to be a very liberating start to my day. It is hard to dress with reckless abandon when you are built like a mountain troll.
Where was I? Oh yes, I was being compelled.
Finally dressed (no thanks to Zuckerberg), I stormed out of the house. I was so excited that I tried to get into my car without unlocking it. That’s when I realised I’d left my car keys in the house.
Along with my house keys.
For a few minutes I stood motionless. In an instant, I had gone from a bullet of pure intention to…some kind of jelly. I was still abuzz with energy, but now it had no outlet. Like shaken champagne (or in my case…lambrini) I had to do something or I would explode.
Worst of all, pubs around my house don’t open until midday. Which is to say they are totally pointless.
There was only one thing for it: I was going to have to walk to Vikki’s work and get some keys from her. My phone was out of battery, so I couldn’t let her know I was coming – I just had to hope it would all work out. In my experience, that’s when things work out best. It’s planning that turns everything to shit.
So I set off. Along the way I passed a creperie. Normally, I never pass a creperie. They are just something I am incapable of passing by. Currently, however, I am impoverished – even for me. Posh pancakes just aint on my list o’ essentials right now.
As it happened, this particular creperie was also an art gallery. In the window was a sign: get your portrait sketched for £5. A bargain! Immediately I imagined the wealthy owner of a successful creperie, so impassioned by her art that she turned her cafe into a gallery and offered cheap portraits as a way to get people to browse her work.
Obviously today was a day worthy of being marked with a portrait. Alas, I had no money on me. I moved on, disappointed.
I was a while down the road when I remembered that I DID have money! I still had £30 in my pocket, because I had forgotten to pay for my lucha training the previous night (with Juventud Guerrera and Cassandro El Exotico, no fucking less!).
I also realised this was the reason why my ribs were throbbing with every step.
Decision made, I span around and marched back to the crepe-gallery. I had one hand on the door when I realised I had misread the price. It said £35. Obviously it did. What was I thinking? £5 for a portrait? In Harrow-on-the-Hill, where people sneeze tenners, wipe their nose on a twenty and then throw it all into a big ol’ bin ‘ moneyz, set the whole thing ablaze and then douse the flames with a bucketloads of pound coins?
By this point, I had my heart set on a portrait to mark the occasion. It just made sense. Narrative sense. Life should be a story, right? Whichever way I looked at it, however, I could not afford to buy one. Instead, I vowed to draw my OWN portrait later. A self portrait. Here it is:
Eventually, I made it to the hospital where Vikki works. I navigated my way to the pathology department, where the receptionist did a very good impression of somebody who believed that I could have a meeting booked with the Head of Blood Sciences.
I, with my cumbersome guitar case clunking against the wall.
I, in my soggy Download t-shirt and jeans ripped from repeated powersliding.
I, the living, breathing and often bleeding embodiment of unfiltered and directionless rock fury.
Yes, the boss is expecting me. Though not consciously.
Luckily, Vikki was planning to work from home that afternoon anyway, so we agreed to meet in the hospital cafe during her lunch break. Satisfied with a job well done, I decided to treat myself to taking the lift back downstairs.
Once inside, I realised I hadn’t the foggiest idea which floor I needed. My options, in order, were 6, 5, 0 and 3…
Obviously, I could have just stepped out of the lift. But that’s not how I roll. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Even if that ride is, you know…descending a single floor in an elevator. We can’t all be Hunter S. Fucking Thompson, alright?
I was pretty sure I was on floor five and could only remember walking up a couple of flights of stairs, so I chose three. It was only after the doors rumbled shut that I spotted the label next to Floor 3: Medical Records and Sodhexo.
That did not bode well. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d seen a cult horror classic by the same name on Netflix. After all, medical records and I are nemeses – and Sodhexo is the only company I know that makes both school dinners and tanks.
A few seconds later, the doors juddered open to reveal a dirty white brick wall a few feet from my face. There may or may not have been the sound a single spooky tap, dripping spooky water into a spooky vat already mostly full of spooky water.
Either way, I panicked and fled.
Not many people realise this about me, but I have an inbuilt and entirely subconscious compass. Normally, I am pretty useless with directions. I don’t have the…you know…wossname. Awareness. People say I’m absent minded, but that isn’t true. My mind is perfectly present; it’s just present elsewhere to where it is expected to be. It’s AWOL.
Send me into a blind rage or total panic, however, and I’m like a hairy homing pigeon. Just ask Matt and Simon, with whom I fled blindly through the Jewish quarter of Krakow, only to wind up directly outside our hostel. (We were fleeing a bar tab as a sacrifice to Loki, whom we felt we had been neglecting. You can read about it all by clicking here, although I highly recommend that you don’t.)
Being that there was no bar in the hospital, I soon discovered myself at Costa (forgive me). I ordered their most calorific coffee: a massimo mocha with extra everything. After a bit of a kerfuffle, I also managed to secure a biro because I was (forgive me again) penless.
From deep within my guitar case, I dragged an old notebook that I carried around New Zealand. Therein, I scribbled furiously.
I also read back through my old notes. They were mostly song lyrics, scrawled runes and evidence of sheer insanity. Oh and occasional plan to take over some world or other. See?
Eventually Vikki arrived and we walked back home. As soon as we were in the door, I grabbed the car keys, ran outside and punched the postcode of my destination into the sat nav. It informed me that I had driven to that exact postcode before…
I remembered the day perfectly. I had curbed the car on the way, blown out a tire, waited a hour for a recovery vehicle to tow me to two different garages, whereupon I discovered I didn’t have the special key required to remove the wheel.
This was because I had used it a few days before to replace a different tire that I had punctured by driving over a patch of nails up at Tough Guy.
I spent most of that day walking the five miles home and back again, to recover said key. On the plus side, I got a 10% discount because the guy in the shop felt sorry for me:
“Weren’t you in here just the other day?”
Clearly this was not a lucky postcode for me.
Unperturbed, I set out on my journey and arrived without incident. Alas, the kindly lad in the shop informed me that the service I was after wasn’t available until Monday. It was Friday. He took my details and booked me in.
Joking, he pointed out that he could have done this over the phone…
…if I had just called them…
…four hours ago when I got up…
…instead of charging straight out of the front door, without anything on my person except a guitar.
I told him I’d come back on Monday morning, and trudged back to my car. There I found a parking attendant – King of the Parasites – skulking around near my car.
I know what you’re thinking, dear reader. And, by now, who can blame you? On this occasion, however, I had purchased a parking ticket. Because it was free. For 30 minutes, anyway. Also because I once accumulated £430 of traffic fines within a single 24-hour period, when foolishly attempting to park near the venue for a gig at the Camden Proud Gallery.
This time, I had earned the right to sneer at the attendant and feel smug about the fact that, impoverished as I am, I will never earn my living my making other people’s lives shitter.
On the way home, I stopped at the supermarket to buy some essentials.
Incidentally, the secret to supermarket shopping – like the secret to most things in the world – is to do it as fast as humanly possible. Like a fucking raid. Get in, grab whatever shit seems roughly right, and get out.
If you accidentally forget the coriander, it’s not the end of the world. Spending a hour of your very limited spare time wandering around a brightly-lit sales pitch, on the other hand, is basically the apocalypse. You may as well be dead.
Anyway, five hours after I erupted out of my bed in explosion of focused purpose, I arrived back at my house in the exact same situation.
Nothing had changed.
Except now I had some eggs.
So, you know. I could make an omelette.
I had stir fry.
It’s more rock n’roll.