I fight the ones that fight me- M.I.A
I used to have a recurring dream where I died and went to hell. I went there so many times that I learnt that its geography, whilst consistent, was as abstract and illogical as the Overlook Hotel.
Last Friday me and Raf went up town to see the US Extended Edition of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" at the BFI. By the time we made it to Clockhouse (made semi-famous by Mike Skinner in a photo in his first Streets album) I'd been awake for twenty five hours. Dressed in the height of grunge hoody chic, I didn't spot the policeman who followed us down to the London train. We'd both bought coffees, wandering far down the platform, and I was expounding on the circular narrative of the movie and how it gets scarier the more times you watch it, when the PC smiled and walked over to us.
"Alright fellas," he said, "how's things?"
Raf looked uneasy.
"Yeah, not bad, not bad," I grinned.
"I like to see who's out and about," the PC said. I noted his thick Irish accent. "Y'know, make sure everybody's okay."
"You're Irish," I said.
"Oh yeah, oh yeah, I am." He had a strange smile on his face.
"Have you been to County Wicklow?" I asked. "I have family there. You know Bray Head? The hill with the cross?"
"Oh yeah, beautiful down there. In the south." There was a hint of menace in his emphasis. "Lovely people. In the south. So, I think.... do I know you from somewhere? You seem awfully familiar! You haven't been doing anything you shouldn't? Come on fellas," he sighed, "let's get out of the rain so I can take your details. Just to be on the safe side..."
He took down our names and addresses and told us he'd be in touch. On the train to Waterloo East we were subdued. We both felt a little dirty.
"I recorded a video," I tell Holly. Holly is the girl who works at Blue Leaves House, she's popped into the outreach centre and I'm passing the ten minutes before therapy with a little bit of shameless self-promotion. Holly is the girl who administers my depot injection. It's difficult outwardly flirting with somebody who asks you to undo your belt, slide down your trousers giggles and says, "sharp scratch!" just before the needle catches a nerve. It always hurts. Afterwards she usually pats my arse before I have to wait three hours on the ward to ensure that I don't have a heart attack. It's romantic in an awkward kinda way.
"It's had 130 hits in six days," I say. There is a nervous looking hoody seated opposite. I clock him for mother issues. It's the old classic.
"You should be due for your injection soon," she replies, blushing a little. My therapist pops out of the door.
"Thanks for waiting, are you ready Andrew?"
"I'll be down today," I say to Holly, standing up.
"Brilliant," Holly says, adjusting her glasses as I smile and follow my therapist into room 13.
"Back once again for the renegade master," I sigh, taking a seat, assuming the position. Legs open but crossed at the ankle, hands behind my head, eyes open but with no contact.
"I recorded a video," I tell her.
"Wow. Of what?"
"Me singing. One take. Live recording of Rockin' In The Free World. It's up on YouTube. It's had 130 hits."
"I also seem to wake up earlier nowadays. My sleep pattern is reconfiguring."
"Which is a good thing. We talked last week about...self harm."
I slide up my hoody. The scars are healing.
"Looks sore," she says.
"They're superficial. Cut to bring blood. Ritualistic. They'll fade before Spain."
"So you're going? I thought you were undecided."
"I've sent off for my passport. I do need a holiday."
"Yes, it's been quite a year for you."
I make the briefest of eye contact.
"In the secure unit the rules are different than in prison. I've never been to prison so I have no real frame of reference in literal terms. Only from the prison memoirs I've read and serious films. Like Scum, or Animal Factory, Chopper, Bronson, the good ones. We talked a lot about Chopper and Bronson in the secure unit."
"What were the conclusions?"
I look above her head to the bookshelves of psychiatric textbooks.
"Some kid in there wanted to start a riot after we watched Chopper. Somebody else told me that Bronson was pure evil and should never be released. Yet another thought that Bronson and Chopper brought it on themselves. The head loonie referred to himself as a Jewish Nazi and always wore a top hat and cloak. He used to trick people into drinking his piss."
"He tricked me too."
"God," my therapist says.
"I thanked him," I continue, making eye contact. "It was a useful lesson. The day before they discharged him I told him that I did everything with my family in the back of my mind. I couldn't allow myself to lose my battles because I thought it would hurt them. Do you want to know what he said?"
I smile. "You'll win."
After a coffee in our local West End Costa's, me and Raf were walking to the BFI to queue up for standby tickets to "The Shining".
"That was weird," I said. The Christmas lights were up. Smart dressed girls in mink coats and pretty hats.
"The stop and search. Yeah. He did it in a really horrible way. It's how they do it."
"I mean," I said, lighting a cigarette, "I've only been arrested once. But I was strip searched. It wasn't registered on my file."
Suddenly Raf stopped a tall, slightly grungy guy with Dr Dre headphones in.
"Mate, Shipwrecked! I know you!"
The guy removed his earphones, looking nervous.
"You were in Shipwrecked! Wow!"
"Umm," the guy said.
"Nah, what's your name?"
"Yeah! I seen you in something! Wicked, yeah, Laurence Fox!"
Laurence Fox shook his hand and walked away quickly.
"Who was that? What's Shipwrecked?"
Raf looked pleased with himself. "Shipwrecked is like T.O.W.I.E for rich people."
"Was he on it?"
"Nah, he's an actor. Downton Abbey I think. Or that one... Minder is it?"
"Starfucker," I sighed, exhaling.
"I saw The Shining on Friday," I tell my therapist. "At the BFI."
"Ooh, I love The Shining!"
"Yeah but get this," I grin, "it was the US extended version. There was like half an hour extra footage. Freaked the hell out of me. And all the audience were fashionati, people who only do as others do in order to fit into a transgender scene. They were laughing..."
"I don't think I've ever been more unsettled in a cinema. And I kept nodding off and hallucinating that Jack Nicholson was wearing glasses. In all the new footage... dunno. It was like Stanley Kubrick had planned this release posthumously just to fuck with me. There's this weird bit at the end with skeletons and cobwebs. And people were laughing... I mean the key theme," I adjust my glasses, "is the loss of a sense of time. They keep hitting you with random TUESDAYS, and THURSDAYS, and MONDAYS, and it's just done to inspire to you the idea that time isn't real. I swear it was auto-suggestive-hypnosis. I've been obsessed with that film for nearly twenty years."
I was standing in the BFI standby ticket queue with M.I.A pumping in my earphones, trying to ignore the clerks making snide comments about me with his boyfriend. The night before I had released my YouTube video, and an Occult Publisher who've been toying with me for years now wanted me to record a music video naked.
I think it would be great for you, Andrew...
When I was nine (and I remember it vividly, it was a TUESDAY or a THURSDAY I think) I saw a spider fighting with a worm. The spider was lashing out at a trapped worm in the dirt under the climbing frame in my best mate's house.
"Time's up," my therapist says. "And I'm not sure you should."
"Record a music video naked?" I ask.
"I don't know if it would be a good...idea."
I smile. "It seems to be what people want, nowadays. And there I was thinking I was a serious novelist."
"Can you do Wednesday next week? No, Thursday. Actually no, Tuesday is better."
On screen two little girls were staring at Danny.
"Come and play with us, Danny. Forever...and ever... and ever..."
All I could hear was laughter as I drifted into sleep, returning to the recurrent nightmares that take me on occasion... I woke up. Laughter. Applause. We wander out of the cinema, past a bar full of men dressed as women.
"Great party," one of them says.