Saturday, January 30, 2010


I arrived home late. I was drunk and had managed to lose one of my gloves - the left glove. I'd been using my hat to keep my left hand warm. It wasn't working too well. It was bitterly cold outside, the middle of december.

I stumbled into the kitchen and leaned against the radiator. It was turned off and presented the side of my leg with cold metal. I could feel it through my trousers. It was 2am. What did I expect? The heating was off. I was tiredness. Hunger. Drunkeness. My head lolled.

Summoning strength from somewhere I opened some cupboards and investigated:
bananas: 2,
brazil nuts: eight,
rice: five hundred grams,
cornflakes: nearly finished.

Stuffing a brazil nut into my mouth, I opened a banana. The brazil nut tasted of vodka. So did the banana. The skin inside my mouth was infused, it was scorched, with the taste of vodka. It was like how a bright light lingers in your vision, how the filament of a bulb stays on after you've looked away. Thats how it was. This strong Russian drink stayed in my mouth. I didn't have the energy to complain.

I sat down on the chair and noticed that the kitchen was unusually tidy. All the surfaces were clear and even the hob had been scrubbed to perfection. The plates and mugs, all the cutlery, put away neatly; even the tiles around the sink, it was all clean. It sparkled like a show-kitchen.

I threw my banana skin and missed the bin.

I put my head down on the table and rested, trying to collect myself. "Collect yourself" I said aloud. At least I tried to say it aloud. The croak that surfaced would not have passed for communication had there been anyone to hear it. It sounded more like a burp.

I burped. A real one. It tasted of sausage-meat. It came from deep within.

"Collect yourself" I said again, after clearing my throat with a raspy cough. How to collect, how to collect? I thought. What an odd way to put it: collect. Collect is a what you do with postage stamps or rare coins, not drunk, banana-skin lobbing failures. But, enough!

You know what I mean, I thought, I know what I mean. I know what I mean. You and I are both I. Oh shut up.

Stand up. Stand up and go bed.

I lifted my head from the table, making to stand. A scrap of paper was stuck to my forehead. It obscured my vision. I stood motionless, staring at the white paper too close to my eyes to focus.

Gravity applied itself and the paper came unstuck, fluttering down from my face to the floor by my feet. I must have leant my head on it unawares. It had been on the table and my greasy forehead had...

I stared down at the scrap of paper. It said nothing. It was blank. It looked as though there might be writing on the other side: some ink had bled through.

It's not mine, I thought. I didn't put it there. I glanced about the kitchen again. It was pretty much the only thing out of place in the whole room, aside from the banana skin. I leant forward and tried to pick up the paper with my gloved hand. Breathing heavily like an overworked horse. I fumbled.

What do I know of horses? I was breathing like a drunk.

I could have taken off the glove. I should have taken it off, or used my left hand (which, you will remember, was without glove). But I was too proud. I've started so I'll finish, I thought, and vaguely felt that this was a truly noble credo. I saw the mastermind chair in my minds eye: special subject: picking up scraps of paper from linoleum floors with gloves on, drunk.

Got it. Finally got it.

I turned it over in my hand, the paper. It had a message written in felt tip. It said "We are not a house that writes notes to each other so I won't leave you guys a note saying how angry I am that you never clean up after yourselves." It was scrawled in messy, angry, handwriting. It was Harriet's handwriting.

The felt tip pen is an inappropriate tool for writing, I thought to myself, it was designed for children, it was designed for colouring-in. Not for note writing.

I read the note through a couple of times. I scrumpled it up. I wasn't angry. I wasn't anything much. I just needed to pee. I threw the ball of paper at the bin. It missed and rolled off out into the hallway.

The toilet seemed like a far too obvious choice as the recipient of my urine. An unspeakable urge led me to the balcony. It was close by. The door opened out directly from the kitchen.

Suddenly out in the cold again I silently cursed my lost glove, waving my cold bare hand about pointlessly. Wherever you are, I thought, I hope you're suffering as I am. I imagined the singular glove impaled upon a railing, waving slightly in the wind. Waving at nobody, who was nearby.

But the bladder's urgent demands put a stop to my mute curses. Out came my penis, out into the biting cold it pointed, out off the balcony. The steaming urine hurled itself down to the carpark below, like liquid lemmings. And I grinned.

The steam was happifying.

Going back inside, I stepped over the banana skin and kicked the little scrumbled ball of paper. It rolled off downstairs, bouncing out of sight. I made my way upstairs in search of slumber. But before I made it anywhere near slumber I was confronted by a horse.

Outside my bedroom door stood the heavily over laden clothes horse, valiantly serving as the drying rack for the everyone's damp clothes. Everyone in the house that is. Four people, me included.

The horse was blocking my bedroom door because there was nowhere else to put it. It was dark and quiet on the landing and the jumble of haphazardly hung clothes loomed at me. I nudged it to the side so as to squeeze past.

The tiny nudge I attempted was not tiny. Alcohol amplifies. It was more of a rough shove. The horse teetered for a moment on one leg and then toppled over. In the darkness I heard glass smashing. I had no idea what it could be.

I stood still and sighed at the mess I had created. A door opened upstairs. I had clearly woken somebody. It was Harriet. She plodded down the stairs to where I was standing and hissed "What was that noise? What are you doing?"
"I don't know" I said, not bothering to whisper.
"Shhhhh!" she grimaced, gesturing at Anne's bedroom door, indicating that I might wake her.
I leaned against the wall and emptied my lungs with a sigh, staring straight ahead. I let my head loll a little.
"You're drunk aren't you." she whispered, a condemnation rather than a question.
I nodded and said "very". My nodding carried on, becoming continuous with a more drunken head lollery which had no implications of assent. Who could say at which point exactly I stopped nodding and began lolling?

"Help me with this then" she spat, whisperingly, lifting the horse back onto its legs.
I watched her do it but stood motionless myself. Help her with what? I thought, she's done it already.

Where the horse had fallen we could just make out the smashed remnants of what looked like it had been a milk bottle.
"Go and get the dust pan and brush," she ordered.
I attempted a shrug but gave up half way due to lack of effort. I remained still and glared at her. Or was it just staring? No, glare is right, it wasn't a stare. It was more glum than a stare. It was a dumb glum glare.

How different things would have been if she'd asked "Why the dumb glum glare?" We would have laughed. But she didn't say that.

I was breathing heavily in that way drunk people do. So confounded by alcohol is the body that it must expend great effort just to keep ticking over. A blazing fire in the firebox, so to speak, just to keep the engine running idle.

Some time passed in which nothing can really be said to have happened. I don't know how much time it was.

Harriet had disappeared when I next became aware of myself. I was still standing in the same place, still giving the dumb glum glare, only now it had no object: it struck the wall behind where she had been standing. I switched off the glare, collected myself, and carefully manoevered round the clothes horse into my room. I had forgotten about the milk bottle.

As I wrestled free of my clothes, which clung to me with undue stubbornness, I heard a sharp knock at my door. Ratatat tat is how it sounded. Harriet barged in moments later without awaiting my response. I had one leg still in my trousers, and one leg out. Glancing at my bare leg for a moment she walked over to the chair by my desk and sat down.
"You better have some water" she said, softly, as though I were too drunk to detect how patronising she was being, "otherwise you're going to regret it in the morning".
I grunted, nodding slightly, and continued unwrapping myself.
She raised her eyebrows disdainfully. "Shall I get you some water?" she asked.
I shrugged, but it may have passed for part of my disrobing as I was at that moment also trying to remove my jacket.
She gave a loud, holier-than-thou sigh and walked out of the room briskly. She had, it appeared, taken it upon herself to save me from vice, which I was clearly drowning in. As soon as she left I forgot she existed and continued slowly, clumsily, undressing.
I did so with my eyes closed and a faint smile on my lips.
I was warm in the syrupy-slow glow and tingle of somnolent inebriation. I tried to say something like that to myself. I wanted to verbally acknowledge the glowing and the tingling so as to make a landmark in time, so as to make the feeling a more conspicuous event. I didn't want it to pass me by. I tried to mumble "this is syrupy" but little came of the attempt.
I became distracted in the act of trying to remove both my socks simultaneously using the adjacent foot to remove the adjacent sock. This failed also. I still dont know if it is possible.
"This is a good feeling", I managed to say eventually, as I witnessed my arms reaching to remove my socks in a more conventional manner. It really felt as though these things were being done for me, as though my limbs were being awkwardly thrown about their business by an amateur puppeteer. I observed it all from a drowsy remove, hiding "aside" on stage in my own play.
At some point Harriet found her way back into my room with a large glass of water, a bucket, and various other things which she dumped onto my desk. I took as little notice of it as I could. I squirmed about on the bed wearing only my pants. I did so with vague aim of squirming myself under the duvet, but mostly just to be squirming.
Looking up momentarily I caught Harriet's unctous glower and decided to squirm more vigourously, provoking her. It seems I had, in her eyes, reduced myself to a wallowing beast. Her eyes, if they saw this, saw true.
She began talking at me and fussing about beside the bed. She tried to get me properly under the duvet, where I half-was already, and tuck me in. I kept squirming.
She spoke to me as though I were a child. Perhaps I was a child. But I felt there was no need for her fussing. I had made it to bed hadn't I?
The squirming simmered down to stillness and I began, very swiftly, to drop off to sleep. But still she was there surrounding me with stern words, with cajoling words; thrusting a glass of water in my face, or trying to plump the pillow beneath my head. A constant stream of words flowed out of her mouth. They were loud words that struck my ears relentlessly. I caught nothing of their meaning. I had no wish to.

The fussing continued and seemed like it would never stop. I had to do something. The syrup that I had been squirming in earlier had now cooled and solidified, forming a hard case around me. I felt unable to move a muscle. But I had to, she was driving me mad.

As anger welled up in me I opened my eyes. Then suddenly I burst our of bed and stood up. I stood perfectly balanced, as though I were sober, and held my hands up as one does to a fast approaching car. "Stop making sense" I said, "just stop". She stared back at me with her mouth open, frozen half way through an admonishing sentence. Then her mouth shut with an inaudible pop, like one mimicing a fish.

I climbed back into bed and fell asleep immediately.

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