Their faces are in shadow

1977

The colours of the cars. The boy on the bridge.

The boy wears a yellow jumper and has auburn hair. The men in the cars wear their hair long at the sides, and the lapels of their jackets are wide. Some cars are orange, and some cars are brown. The men’s sunglasses are tinted and polarized, and their faces are in shadow. The boy just stands and watches the cars from a motorway bridge. I hate the boy. I hate the men.

Advertisements

The low Hallowe’en sun lights distant mist

On a train, sitting across from a nurse who is reading a pop psychology book. She is wearing ballet pumps and she has her legs crossed. She arches her foot until the pump is held on by her toes. I don’t have a foot fetish and wonder if this display is erotic.

It’s early October and very mild.

The withdrawal symptoms from escitalopram continue to be awful. My moods change frequently.

Strange day: walking to the station the air is still and the sounds seem flattened. It is very eerie: it’s the stillness, I think. And the strange light. On the train, the passing landscape disappears into the grey.

The mist is now lit red.

In Sheffield, people stop and look up at a red sun. Sahara red.

The world is off-kilter today.

I’m sitting in a café drinking tea. Suddenly, I feel an overwhelming sadness. I feel distressed and anxious. I go to the bathroom and take a Valium.

Doctor’s surgery. I feel anxious. My mood drops, I feel it physically in my chest. During my appointment I behave erratically, or rather, I feel I am being erratic.

October has passed quickly.

Hallowe’en: grey morning, mild. A chill wind blows half-heartedly. The train is too hot.

As I eat lunch in a café there is a girl with her boyfriend at the next table, she has her arms folded and is pulling her top further and further down, her breasts are almost exposed. I feel awkward. I get up and buy a Hallowe’en cake.

I rush to the station to get an earlier train. It leaves late. It’s sunny now.

The low Hallowe’en sun lights distant mist and makes me squint behind my Ray-Ban’s. The landscape is silhouetted against the sky.  The temperature is starting to drop.

I feel empty today. I think I used all my emotion yesterday. I’m listening to Grouper but I can hear people discussing Kevin Spacey.

The sun has gone down now. The horizon is soft yellows and pastel peaches. Scott loves Jamie has been etched into the train window.

Out of the other window, the sky is blue-grey.

A flickering fluorescent light at Meadowhall indicates the presence of evil.

Hallowe’en 1991, Religous Education, the teacher Mrs Cockerell (not her real name) tells us about the Devil. For the first ten minutes, I think she is describing another of our teachers and I am amused. However, the talk gets pretty dark when she starts telling us about children who’ve gone out on Hallowe’en and come home different: distant and withdrawn, trapped between two worlds. Despite my apathy towards religion, I go home suitably terrified. That night I barely sleep.

Among the commuters waiting on the platform there are devils and witches. The twilight is bluey and strange. Trees and spires black against the sky. It’s cold now and I pull scarf tighter around my neck.

It’s gone like a ghost

Saturday, 2.11 am. Still and clear.

Before you come to bed the heating needs to be turned off.

Still and quiet. The window’s closed. It’s Saturday, well, Sunday now. Silence. The kind of silence you can hear when you listen. It whistles, it is almost unpleasant and makes you long for sounds, normalising sounds, wind and rain against the window, a washing machine spinning or the call of distant night animals.

Sunday, 20.25. In bed. Silence. Apart from the brown cat purring and kneading a soft blanket. Today has been a bad day. I have felt unwell. A malaise.

Tuesday, 1.03 am. I didn’t go to university today. I felt unwell, yesterday’s malaise. I got out of the shower and realised I hadn’t rinsed the conditioner from my hair or the soap from my face. At which point I felt I ought to go back to bed. But I didn’t. I tried to get some work done instead. I made coffee and ate a round of toast.

I’d had nightmares again and had slept badly. My nightmares always involve the same cast.

It is still again tonight. Light rain showers. I think I can hear the rain falling softly. The Local weather said it was going to warm up again on Friday. I can’t hear the rain just the stillness.

I’ve opened the window, it’s not raining. A car breaks the stillness. I can hear it moving further and further away. Silence. And then another car, this one’s heading away from the city. I hear it pass then nothing; it’s gone like a ghost. There’s a soft wind blowing through the red leaves of the blossom trees outside the window.

My mind is blank. I have no thoughts. I can only describe the events that are occurring. But being in bed at 1.28 am there isn’t much to describe. Here in this outlying suburb. With my head pointing towards the city and feet towards the moors.

The wind picks up. My watch ticks loudly. It’s a white swatch with black hands and numbers. There are small glow-in-the-dark rectangles on the ends of the minute and hour hands.

6.39 am. The rain is lashing down outside. The brown cat and the red cat are sitting next to me. I have just fed the red cat. The red cat woke me from an unpleasant dream.

I dreamed I went to a party which turned into a violent orgy. I walked about in a large garden looking for someone. Little children ran and played while the adults fucked; scary looking men attacked one another with beer bottles and threw balloons filled with piss. I went inside where a drunk woman was butchering Dusty’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, at which point I decided it was time to leave.

I walked around a car park, looking for a car. I cut through a tiny football ground where a child’s match was going on. Some men were fighting with one another, apparently, someone had let some West Bromwich Albion supporters in and they fought with Birmingham City fans.

I eventually got home. Home in this dream was large and open-plan with a teak staircase – very early 1970s suburbia. I poured a glass of Jim Beam and put a video on. It was a coming-of-age film which began with a sister and brother in an autumnal garden arguing about baseball and soccer. The girl leaves and there is a tight close up on the boy’s face as rests his head against a goalpost and looks into the distance, his eyes filled with sadness and disappointment.

Escitalopramic dreams: vivid and coherent.

It’s still raining and I have a headache. You are dreaming next to me, your eyes flit quickly behind their closed lids; it’s very strange and I want to wake up you and ask what you’re dreaming about. Outside the rain is still coming down.

 

The fleeting warm buzz of amyl nitrite where the nouveau riche now live

So, I have dreamed of the same house three times now. It is not a house from my past. Nor is it a house I ever remember being in. The house is haunted. To get to the house I have to pass a railway station and it is located where my old high school used to be.

The withdrawal effects of the escitalopram have lessened over the last week. I still have the occasional brain shiver but my moods seem more balanced.

6.35 am. Grey morning: raining and humid.

Two thunderstorms have passed over this morning. Huge cracks of thunder, torrents of pissing rain but they haven’t cooled the air. The temperature remains resolute. My sinuses are blocked.

I dreamed of the flats I grew up in. I tried to get to the top floor to take photographs out of the window on the landing but I felt vertiginous and couldn’t let go of the handrail. The smell, the feel of the handrails: the smooth black plastic on twisted white metal, the echoing sound of my shoes on the hard marble-like floors were all painfully familiar.

I am underwater. I can feel my ears filling with water. I can hear my breathing. I am underwater. The bath water smells of cinnamon.

I am reading Joe Orton’s diary. Joe has just fucked someone in a derelict house. My generation fucked and sniffed poppers in partly built new build houses of expanding suburbia. We drank white cider, smoked and felt the fleeting warm buzz of amyl nitrite where the nouveau riche now live. But the houses were skeletal when we used them to escape the weather, do ouija boards, get high and talk about girls and bands, all away from the prying eyes of the locals. Furthermore, they provided shelter for 14, 15 and 16-year-old girls to give handjobs and blow jobs to 18, 19 and 20-year-old men with cars from the council estate next door. Well, that’s if the graffiti and playground rumours were to be believed.

I remember when Kris Akabusi came to our school. Me and six or seven others had forgotten our games kit. We were put in a large storeroom in the drama department. Throughout the morning we were visited by four or five teachers who told us we had shamed ourselves and the school. Funny, there were no troublemakers among us, we had all genuinely forgotten to bring out kit.

If that happened now, with social media, I imagine we would have been the victims and the school would have been shamed!

As punishment, we didn’t get to meet Kris Akabusi and be photographed with him. I did meet him, however, in the car park afterwards, I asked if thought we had shamed the school and he just smiled and laughed awkwardly, then drove away in a middling sports car while a bunch of knobheads yelled racist abuse at him. You could tell he wanted to drive over them but he just waved. He didn’t do that stupid fucking thing he used to do with his fist though.

Anyway, at lunchtime, Danni Forrest (not her real name) will wank you off for a £1 under the willow tree down by the river. And Vanessa Elms (not her real name) puts out on the first date.

Schooldays, fuck were they miserable!

I remember Coventry but I don’t remember it well

Last night we went for a walk. We both saw a shooting star but at different times. I took photographs of suburban gardens at midnight. Everything was still except for us and the occasional taxi. Our world was lit silver by the moon.

Tonight, I stood outside looking for shooting stars, I saw two, both out of the corner of my eye. I would’ve liked to have seen more but there was a lot of light pollution and I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the park and besides it’s very creepy after dark with the strange disembodied sounds that travel across the landscape from the hills and distant moors.

The air had an autumnal chill.

I fell asleep before I could finish writing. I wish now I’d stayed outside longer now.

Yesterday, the one-day flower flowered. It breaks my heart every year. The flower that smiles today, tomorrow dies. Today, it is all shrivelled and my heart is broken. Even with the warm sun on the back of my neck.

I feel filled with this oddly muted anger. I feel angry about the situation, the decline in my mental health and failings that led to me being in this situation. It’s a long time since I have felt anger. It was something that was solved easily during therapy: once the anger was legitimised, it faded away.

I am not coping again. I keep trying to bring some sort of equilibrium to the situation but I just can’t seem to keep it together. It’s really frustrating. I feel like I did pre-therapy. The withdrawal effects of the escitalopram aren’t helping, I feel a lot of the mood issues can be attributed to them.

I just want to be asleep all of the time. Dreaming my life away, even the recent nightmares of being shot in the head and cannibalised feel preferable right now.

I hate fucking whining like this. I like to solve problems. It’s the not coping: when trying to come up with a plan, I quickly feel overwhelmed, even small steps feel too much.

Anyway, it’s 1.15 am. I’m lying in the dark. 1.25 am. Still lying in the dark. I’m going to get up and drink some water. 1.43 am. I’ve drunk some water and eaten a biscuit.

It’s really quiet tonight. I thought the window was closed. I have the fan on now.

I remember Coventry. I remember we passed through it when travelling across the country from Kent. I remember Coventry but I don’t remember it well. It exists as a few fading photographs my brain took as I looked for the floodlights of Highfield Road. (I had a habit of spotting football grounds on long journeys when I was young.) I don’t think I saw them, I suspect we didn’t pass close enough to the Hillfields area where the ground used to be.

The anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film

Yesterday, I was thinking about the dream I’d had a few nights ago of being shot in the head.

I was in Mallorca involved in some sort of espionage. I was shot by a man in civilian clothing while a man wearing an army uniform watched on. They were on opposite sides. I was slumped against a wall watching an exchange between them. After the men had left in separate vehicles, I managed to get to my feet, seemingly undead and entered a bar where I received help. I was taken in a taxi to the place I was staying, a disused farmhouse and I collected together my belongings.

At some point, I was transported to London. I found myself disoriented in an underground shopping arcade. People looked at me strangely and I had persistent pain on the side of my head where I had been shot. I wore a tailored grey suit and a black raincoat but I felt out of time from the people around me. Disoriented, I felt I needed to get to Euston station. I searched for landmarks I recognised but the landscape shifted continuously. At one point I was near the Barbican but couldn’t get close to it because I was frightened of the towers.

I managed to find my way to high ground. To the south, London stretched out below me and to the north, I could see Sheffield in the distance. I sat down on a bench feeling defeated. I don’t remember anything after that.

I don’t think there is anything to understand from this. The only reason it received more thought than any other dream is the fact I was shot in the head and this the only time I can remember this happening.

My escitalopramic dreams are often coherent, very vivid and absurd. Sometimes even the anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film. The nightmares can be rough, though.

5.51 am. A soft rain is falling sending icy air in through the window. The light is grey. The occasional car passes. I want to be asleep. The brown cat is restless.

I should give in and get up. I’ve been lying here awake for over an hour now.

I should have got up! I fell asleep and dreamed I was cannibalised! First time for that too!

Rainy day. Rainy night. Hardly seems like August. Although, for a change, the dreary weather hasn’t left me depressed more indifferent. Is that an improvement?

Blue morning. 5.53 am. I can’t hear the rain, just your breathing. The light is bluey through the curtains. I can hear the rain now on the window. Another rainy day ahead.

Should I get up? Make a cup of tea and some toast. Or should I try and fall asleep?

6.06 am. Simon’s sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee. It’s another night he hasn’t slept. Outside his fourth floor flat, the landscape is brightening, it is raining and the light is grey. He swallows the rest of coffee. The world is waking up and strangely he feels less alone. He looks out at the rain, the distant hills and cars heading towards town. He goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth. He gets into bed. He knows he’ll wake up at midday feeling awful but there is something about this time just before falling asleep when everything feels like it’ll be all right.

I was both relieved and sad to get away from her

I was sitting on the edge of the bed and felt like I was tumbling backwards. It was strange to see my stillness in the mirror. It felt like it took my brain a while to catch up with what eyes were telling it.

The sun is out. High in the sky. My window is open full and I can feel it hot on the side of my face. It pleasing after several grey days. It is blustery and the wind is swirling around my room disturbing my papers, revision notes and photographs.

I am back from getting my prescription filled at the pharmacy. I felt awkward as I sat waiting for it. I always do. Blue sky, some clouds, still blustery. I’m wearing lilac-coloured socks. I really like them, I’m going through a bit of pale purple phase. I bought three pairs of them but I wish I’d brought the rest. This is what I was thinking when I was waiting for my prescription to be filled.

Headache. I fear it could be a bad one so I take co-codamol. It has no effect so an hour later I take a propranolol. Half an hour later the headache begins to ease.

I went for a walk this evening, it was uninteresting. The sky was starry but not completely clear. As I headed home the moon was starting to disappear behind the hill where the observatory used to be.

I feel low tonight but I can’t figure out why. Probably more withdrawal symptoms from the escitalopram. The trouble with escitalopram is, on the one hand, I feel balanced and functional and on the other, numb and a bit slow cognitively. While it reduces my anxiety, it sometimes makes social interaction even more awkward especially when I get stuck in the middle of a sentence because the word I’m after has disappeared in the escitalopramic fog or I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. As someone who has always had a good memory, I find it both frustrating and worrying.

1.29 am. In bed, the fan is on. I’m wondering if I should put my ear plugs in, I like the sense of isolation they create. It seems pointless, you don’t have the television on and the fan isn’t disturbing me.

7.07 am. The room is cool, you would say that it is cold.

The sun is hot and my window is open full. There is some sort of work being carried out down the street. Very loud heavy machinery, the high-pitched scream of concrete being cut. Hammering. The sound of summer.

The room cools quickly when the clouds obscure the sun.

The brown cat appears at the window announces herself then climbs in while Elizabeth Taylor watches from my wall.

I dreamed of a vaguely familiar blonde girl with glasses. She sat next to me in a classroom and whispered seemingly intimate things into my ear but I couldn’t tell what she was saying, she laughed at my bemusement. We were surrounded by a lot of boys and I sensed hostility from them.

In another dream, I travelled to a house I used to live in. There was a girl there with short brown curly hair who I was told was a recovering alcoholic by a familiar man with long hair in a ponytail. She wore a floor-length Venetian red velvet night dress with a Mandarin collar. When the man with the ponytail left, she begged me to buy her a bottle of brandy. I felt bad because I wanted to, just to please her. I was both relieved and sad to get away from her.