Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

30 Dec 2014

Flat 6A - Open All Hours

a heavy sigh through nostrils. snarling and surveying the room.
another impotent day awaits;
urged on by late morning sun.
sleeping bag kicked off by jean clad legs.
neck aching. only one fraying pillow between the head and the floorboards.
one naked sweat stained pillow, in the word's first voluntary bedsit.

the double bedroom next door would be perfectly adequate but for the emptied suitcases of unworn clothing piled upon the mattress,
the hundreds of copies of Q and Fiesta that blockade the door,
and the lipstick insults, scrawled on the walls,
forbidding him from entry despite full legal ownership.

a desperate urge for a carrot coloured piss as he eventually comes to is all that raises him from his makeshift bed.
he kicks over an empty can on his way across the room, or at least, he thought it was an empty can.
in fact it was a largely empty can;
steady dregs of warm flat lager, flooding the neighbouring floorboards
and then trickling down the cracks.

the 3 foot tall refrigerator sits within arm's length of the bed.
enough food for 2 or 3 days, on the odd occasion when it isn't tinned,
and enough drink to see him through till sunrise.
Foster's; not a connoisseurs drink by any stretch of the imagination,
but men like this don't drink for pleasure, they just drink.

a double gulp for breakfast and a belch for morning prayer.
today, he thinks, will be different.
today I will write the world's last remaining epic.
today I will set upon the path that will see Tracey Emin yearn for my squalor,
see Oscar Wilde reduced to vulgarity,
and see all the whores and the cocaine and the liquor come flooding
like cockroaches through the door.

the television sits patiently in the corner;
gathering dust, bereft of a satellite or a license or a remote,
playing host only to the stack of 7 videos that sit loyally beside it.
the VHS companions that occasionally complement his mood.
they repeat, and repeat, and repeat amidst regular bouts of insomnia.

a collection of companions that somehow satisfy pretty much every aspect of his visual desire:
'Trainspotting', 'Dirty Harry', 'Debbie Does Dallas', 'Betty Blue',
the 1979 FA Cup final, Bill Hicks,
and a homemade tape containing 43 minutes of 'Only Fools and Horses',
the first ever episode of 'TOTP2',
an interview with John Major,
and 10 minutes of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.

the primary source of entertainment, though, coming not from the fridge as some may predict but from the gramophone that takes centre stage.
the gramophone that replays the memories of his youth.
his antisocial teens. peroxide twenties.
the hatred of his marriage, the many affairs that carried him through divorce and now at last,
the tranquillity of solitude.

a whole lot more than 7 records scatter the floor.
last night: Johnny Cash, the man in black.
other current favourites include Georges Brassens, Jake Thackray, Billie Holiday,
The Doors, Bob Dylan's 'Blonde On Blonde', a rare 12" of 'Born Slippy .NUXX',
Petula Clark, an import of Jacques Dutronc, and an increasingly crackly Jimmy Ruffin.

the worst of this exile, this admittedly enforced and self imposed exile,
is the loss of the rush from the scent of female flesh.
it's been 16 months since he's had a shag. probably 3 or 4 years since a truly good one.
the electricity of their fingertips crawling up his thigh.
the adrenaline that courses when nails shred his back.
the tenderness of embrace. the intimacy. the warmth.

a long time ago, a fucking long time ago, this was a proud patch, see.
watercolours, 50 word poems and acoustic guitar ballads,
all regularly intertwined with groups of artists and intellectuals
engaging in laughter and infectious debauchery;
conversation punctuating drink fuelled sexual encounters
and hope, above all else, the toast of their never ending nights.

the sentiment occasionally still surfaces,
and the four walls still carry vague remnants of their past.
it is a shrine as much as it is a prison cell.
he cannot leave, because he cannot let go of what he once had.
he cannot escape, because without it, he is utterly unworthy of any greater alternative.
there is no greater alternative.
he must live with the consequences of the fuck up that he's spawned.

a pair of crimson sunglasses is an absolute necessity on rare events when he has to leave in daylight.
a filter placed on every single face he has to meet.
a warm red glow that somehow skews reality.
the alcohol, of course, that dominates his veins, is the predominant barrier that separates him.
but without the sunglasses?
no, it couldn't happen.

the day it all changed, he can still remember vividly.
no crimson tint. no liquid shield.
31st august 1997.
relatively early in the morning; too early to call anybody, put it that way.
'Doctor Who'; his favourite era, the first series in colour. 'Spearhead From Space'.
a news bulletin interrupted, insistent.
Diana, Princess of Wales, has died in Paris
after a high speed collision involving a car, and a wall.

a world in which Diana can be killed at 36, is not a world he wants to entertain.
no longer a world he wants to interact with.
for this man, there are no politicians peddling corruption.
no nauseating boy band sensations polluting the charts.
no natural disasters or need for humanitarian invasion,
sorry, 'intervention', whilst simultaneously raping oil resources.

the refusal was from then on no longer preference, but his mortality.
to live outside the bubble he'd previously formed.
to sit in this flat, drinking booze, playing records,
answering only to the postman and himself.
to masturbate and sing and cry and sometimes stop to eat.
a liquid lunch and a crimson tint.

he is Pinocchio. Peter Pan.
The Time Lord. The Lizard King.
Francis Begbie. Alan Sunderland. Goatboy. Dirty Harry.
Mr Greenfield. Mr Major.
Zorg, Ziggy, Del Boy and Donatello.

he is closed off from the world.
he is open all hours.

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