12 September 2004


There was an old man called Michael Finnegan. Ourobouros. That's the word. Ourobouros, the snake that swallows its own tail. Between these shelves, between these books, between these words, I go round in circles. Swallowing myself. Imagine, swallowing yourself. A hit with the ladies, no mistake. But why would a man need a woman if he could swallow himself? The wind came round and blew them in again. Light's still a long way off and the library doesn't even open till nine. Thoughts going round but they can't get out. Thoughts in circles. Ourobouros. Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin again.


Ninety-nine. Twenty-two, he was, from the local paper. I had a war, six dead brothers, influenza and an abortion to my name by twenty-two. He said To what do you attribute your longevity? Very good grammar, most unusual in a boy so young. I said it's probably all the cocaine I took in the Twenties. They won't print that. They've all gone home. I never liked cake. That's what I should have said. I chalked up ninety-nine because I never liked cake. I made cake every year for James. Sixty-six cakes. No more children to outlive. Ninety-nine. Time for bed.


I admit perhaps to physical unmanliness. Some people even deemed me mental. If that is what they think, that is what they must think regardless. My own thoughts have been a permanent friend to me over the years and helped me not to regret my ignorance of life and how people are supposed to live in it. The person who is born introverted has such a tiny impact on events and why I was even born into the pod of the world's green peas, I will never guess. I was slapped the very moment I came out into the world.


A burglar mid-crime on the telly. Making a collage from the catalogue. The smell of glue. He tiptoes up. I see him reflected in the screen, but I let him put ice cream down my shirt anyway. The telly flutters, vertical hold gone so the image rolls. Revenge for stealing that bad poem from his typewriter, his primary school effort. But I devoured his every rhyme, only put it back- with the speed of a synonym- when I heard him come in. I put it back upside down. Never thought I'd ever dream of happy and wake up into it.


Another day, another town. Another load of fat smug faces you'd as soon punch as look at. Hello, how are you, nice to meet you, we mean you no harm; we bring only electronic novelties for your young, can I interest you in a load of old crap? When you're new in a strange town you never see the things you'd want to see, and you get to see all kinds of things that you don't. All the slappers and junkies, unloved and unlovely. Madam I am drunk and you are ugly but in the morning I will be sober.


All because of a tumour so small it's almost impossible to visualise, in my heart, and because it broke loose. Nothing anybody could do. Now there's small parts of it all over me. And they keep growing. Dad had it, too. Men are usually reptiles when it comes to expressing their emotions. The back of the brain is the oldest part. It deals with the most basic ways of responding to things. Like an angry crocodile lashing out when it's attacked. He lashed out. Women are more like monkeys. They sit down and have a little chat about it. Yes.


He told me he liked all those kinds of things. Wanking off winos and tramps. I don't really understand it myself, the dirtier the better almost. The boys, the clean boys, you might be able to understand, but those filthy old bastards, I don't know. At least there was a purpose in what I did, in such a way though a person goes through so much, no… because a person goes through so much it's possible that a person has to be, what you would call anaesthesia. That's a word from a crossword puzzle. Anaesthesia. How do you spell that?


Could have been a great lover, but never had chance because nobody ever threw themselves at my feet. Nobody ever made it easy. I was a clever lad, maybe could have been a teacher. But the seats in the library was too hard and I always thought I knew best. When I was young I always said I'd have myself done away with if I turned into a cripple or something. I say have myself done away with. Never said I'd do myself away. Now I wish I could. Too late, 'cause choice has gone the same way as opportunity.


Trois Gymnopédies. Lent et douloureux. Erik Satie, about 1890 I think. Somebody in the building plays it so well, note perfect, but it's transformed into something more elegant still- delicate as blue skies in summer- by the corridors and stairwells between us. The discreet touch of a stranger's fingertips to ivory. Fluid, unresolved, and the last note hangs for a few perfect seconds before the player returns to the start and the delicate bass chords begin again. Perhaps they're practising piano. Perhaps it's just someone's CD, running unattended, unheeded, unheard. It doesn't matter. Blue skies. Dada dada da dadada da.


Sex. I remember sex. I know what's really going on. She's just not attracted to me anymore. I've been dispensed with. She's got what she needs from me. Now Toby's first, second and third. All I am is a very crappy fourth on her list of what's important now. And there's all that bollocks about she doesn't even know if she's attracted to herself anymore, she still feels like such a fat pig, well not to me. Anyway she's still my pig, and Toby's my son, my beautiful son and she's my beautiful wife. Watch where you're going, you fucking-


When we play monsters and Mummy catches me, she never kills me, she only tickles me. Johnnie says play like a boy, not some girl. You want to grow up right, don't you, don't want to grow up a puff like your dad, do you? When we play monsters I sometimes let Mummy catch me because she tickles me where it tickles and not where it doesn't tickle. I don't want to play monsters with Johnnie, but Johnnie wants to play monsters with me. I want to play monsters with my real dad. Cause Johnnie hurts when he catches you.


The copper says Can I ask you if you've been taking drugs, sir? I can't stop laughing, I say Who isn't on drugs? The other copper says Step out of the car, sir? I put my foot down and I kind of feel the copper's foot under the tires and hear him shout Fucking nigger drove over my fucking foot. They only stopped me because I'm a nice black man with a nice black car and I'm a handsome bastard with the right kind of hetero patois for hooking the honeys and those racist arsehole pigs can't stand it. Tree.


I bet every father thinks their daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world. But it's true. The trouble is, I've never told her. I've never said, Lucy, one last thing: I want to tell you how beautiful you are and that you've the greatest heart of anyone I've ever met, and you won't always get what you deserve but I know you will make people as happy as you have made me in the twenty-five years it has been my honour to know you. I have never said that. Because I never even realised it until just now.