"I have come to understand that life is composed of a series of coincidences. How we react to these- how we exercise what some refer to as free will- is everything. The choices we make within the boundaries of the twists of fate determine who we are."-
"In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences."
POPE JOHN PAUL II
On my way to Pynchon Ward all I will be able to think about is blowing up the hospital. I will have been off medication for a month, and thanks to the withdrawal symptoms from the mood stabilizer Olanzapine, I have only been able to sleep when drunk. The psychiatrist in the Secure Unit last year (I spent a month locked in with rapists, murderers and thieves) told me I had a photographic memory. He told me that people saw mood changes in me when their mood changed, that my mind moved so quickly that I could anticipate reactions in others before they had a chance to react. Within 24 hours I will have had a depot injection into my right buttock that will bleed out over my jeans (at this the nurse will giggle and say, "Oops!") two bottles of wine and half a gram of MDMA. When I will eventually wake up, the news media around the world will be speculating on the motivation for the bombs planted at the finish line of the Boston marathon. This will fall three days short of the anniversary of Waco, where 80 people were massacred by the FBI on 19th April, 1993.
Mum texts an hour before midnight with her adoring birthday message. My two quid mobile (the type favoured by drug dealers and the very poor) is now my sole means of communication with the outside world. Two days ago, whilst drunkenly streaming Barfly (Charles Bukowski's single foray into screenwriting) my screen burnt out.
"Fuck," I said. "Fuck. North Korea has just eaten my computer!"
In one hour I will be thirty. Mum has included thirty X's, which I bother to count. Now retired and living in Spain (it's midnight where she is), she was a German teacher for two decades and I've inherited her proto-rigidity. Spelling and grammatical errors make me uneasy. Tomorrow is Thursday, the 11th of April. Thirty years ago I was battling my way out of my mother's womb with my umbillical cord wrapped around my neck. Apparently I went blue.
Saving the solitary beer in my fridge for my 'official' birthday, I make a coffee and roll a cigarette. Then I sit down and listen to Soldier again, my first cross-atlantic collaboration with American rapper Rody Dailey, A.K.A Big P.R.E.M.E. We met on Twitter some months ago. I don't recall who followed who, or the circumstances of our meeting. Twitter has a strange and mysterious ability to render time (at best) irrelevant. By November of 2012 I had started making simple, one take videos of classic grunge anthems with my producer, Dan Cooper. Dan is a Brit School educated musician who set up his own recording studio in Penge, on the borders of London. Adele was a few years behind him at school. Between 2010 and 2012 I saved money from my benefits to pay for studio time, and completed my album the same day I recorded my interpretation of Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World. Rody dug the videos, and after sampling his Soundcloud, I dug his 90s style, honest lyrics and great vocal talents. It went from there. He emailed us the ptf (Pro Tools File) of his uncompleted track Soldier, and I composed a hook (lyrically inspired by the framed poster of High Noon that I have in my living room- THE STORY OF A MAN WHO WAS TOO PROUD TO RUN). I'd been reading about the mathematics of music, how Beethoven created suspense by suggesting variations of the harmonic pattern. For example, in his String Quartet in C-Sharp Minor, he plays incomplete versions of the chord and saves the complete note (giving the audience its aural catharsis) to the very end. There ends the comparison between me and Beethoven, all I did was save the vibratto high note until the fourth line of the hook and produce a compound vocal harmony (three separate notes sung and placed on top of one another, giving a choir effect) for a recurrant sample. Pretty simple stuff. I listen to Soldier on repeat until I'm thirty, then, sated, open my beer and put on Born Villain by Marilyn Manson, the standout album of 2012.
"You don't have to see," he roars, "to know that murderers are getting prettier every day..."
It's 12.30 and I'm nursing a pint in the Hole in the Wall, a pub opposite Waterloo station, waiting to meet my sister for lunch. Opposite me, two city types are arguing fiercely over the pros and cons of Thatcherism. I zone out and put in my earphones. I've been listening to Masters of War by Bob Dylan on repeat for days. It's the next song I want to record. I'm obsessively studying it, working out tone, emphasis and inflection. On the wall above me is a framed front page of the Daily Mirror, celebrating the lunar moonwalk on July 20th 1969. The date seems oddly familar. I type it into a draft text message, saving it for later. My brother put 51 Bob Dylan albums on my iPod. I'm not sure, but I think that's all of them. My phone vibrates. It's a birthday text from Melanie, my sister, which informs me she'll be half an hour late. I send out a cautiously short reply, careful to conserve the credit that my phone swallows like a porn starlet lucky enough to work with James Deen.
Dan Cooper, my producer, is 27 today. Through some strange twist of providence, we share the same birthday. I call him, leave slightly slurred message pledging my eternal gratitude and unconditional love. Five minutes later he calls back.
"Happy birthday," I grin.
"Happy birthday, mate!"
"What are you going to say to Adele when you next see her?"
"Hmm. Got a cigarette, love?"
"Nice," I say. "Understated."
"By the way, your rapper emailed me. They loved the track."
I feel a huge sense of achievement. "Awesome," I say. "How's the site coming?"
"You'll be live tomorrow," Dan says.
"Amongst his many, many other talents, he also designs websites.
"You're the hardest working man in the business," I say.
"I try my best," he replies.
It's 1.23PM and I'm sitting opposite my sister in Wacaca's overlooking the South Bank. Sipping from a cold Corona, and trying to eat my burrito with as much grace as possible, I'm explaining to my sister the rudimentaries of the occult.
"It's the careful documentation of energy," I say, swallowing, "how energy, both positive and negative is at the core of the human experience. Occultists believe there is a code interweaved into history, that with the right esoteric study will reveal the mysteries of the universe. Essentially," I conclude, "there is no such thing as a coincidence."
Melanie smiles. Next to us, a gay couple with a seat staring over the Thames share a kiss.
"What do you believe?" She asks.
"That there may very well be a way of piecing together the puzzles of the cosmos, but humans will never work it out. The moment we go to study something, we alter its habitat and change it."
"Oh. Oh dear, that's a shame. Do you believe in time?"
I grin, see that she's serious.
"Short answer yes, long answer...no."
"I think time is a construct developed to withstand the horrors of eternity," she says.
"So you're a post-modernist, then?" I ask.
"Wow, cool!" She says. "Am I?"
It's half eight. I'm drunk.
"The minimum is nineteen pounds, if you're paying by card," the barman says. I'm with my younger brother Chris in Brazil, a bar opposite the Electric Ballroom in Camden, killing time before the Fratelli's gig. He bought me ticket as a surprise, even though neither of us really know who they are. Chris orders another two Corona's to hit the card limit. A Spanish Blues band is working through a very passable rendition of My Funny Valentine. We take our drinks to a table just as the lights start to dim.
"Romantic," my brother says.
"Definitely," I reply, sipping my drink. "Did I tell you my computer blew up? I'm writing by hand at the moment. It's exhausting."
"It was either North Korea, a militant militia group, a sexually frustrated computer hacker, or my screen burnt out from overuse."
Chris smiles. "North Korea?"
"Don't joke, man," I say. "Next you'll be telling me J.F.K was shot my a lone nutter. What about the grassy knoll? What about the magic bullet?"
He sips his beer. "I start paediatrics next week."
"Wow," I say. Chris is in his final year of medical school. In little over a year (if he keeps his head down) we'll have another doctor in the family. My sister is a board certified clinical psychologist.
"Just remember though," I whisper. "if you become a psychiatrist I'll have to kill you."
"I finished that Jon Ronson book you gave me," he says.
"I tweeted Jon Ronson," I say. "We had a little banter."
"You already told me."
"So I'm telling you again!"
Jon Ronson is an investigative journalist who interviews people on the fringes of society and sanity, cult leaders, paranoid conspiracy theorists, shamed celebrities. he disguises his razor sharp intelligence with a nerdy, bumbling manner, that he deploys with practiced cunning to illicit information, providing his prey with just enough rope to hang themselves.
"How's the new book going?" Chris asks.
"I'm collecting coincidences," I reply.
"Uh huh, okay... why?"
"I'm an Occult writer. It's what we like to do." The blues singer holds a great note and I catch his eye, smile, give him a thumbs up. He smiles, nods, lost in the song.
"Coincidences. Tell me one."
"On July 20th 1969, man walked on the moon. Allegedly."
"On July 20th 2012," I continue, "James Holmes walked into a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire into the audience. Oh yeah, and did you know Jimmy Savile was born on Halloween?"
"No way," Chris says.
"Yes way. He was born on 31st October, 1926. The same day escape artist Harry Houdini died in a hospital in Detroit."
"You're making that up," Chris grins.
"You've got an iPhone, man. Google it."
He does. "Coincidence," he says, slightly less confidently. "That's all it is." The band segues into a clever interpretation of Rolling In The Deep. I drain my glass.
Chris takes a long swig of his. We sit for a few moments in silence, then I say:
"Do you want a cigarette?"
Thursday, 4 April 2013
The most essential knowledge is certainly that of the heart of man, to be learned by misfortune and travel: one must have seen men of all nations to know them and one must have been their victim to appreciate them; misfortune's hand, in exalting the character of him whom it crushes puts him at the right distance to study men; he sees them there as the traveler sees the furious waves break against the rock on which the storm has thrown him; but in whatever situation nature or chance has placed him let him keep quiet when he is with other men; one doesn't learn by speaking but by listening; which is why chatterers are usually fools-
MARQUIS DE SADE- ESSAY ON THE NOVEL
It's one week until my thirtieth birthday, and for the first time in years I have writer's block.
My new novel (for once I have a publisher's interest) is set in a world where David Icke's theories of Reptilian Overlords and Global Brainwashing is all true. Set during the London Olympics, covering all major news events (including the Savile affair) it climaxes with Sandy Hook, and Obama's new quest to disarm America.
I am getting to the point (ninety pages in) where I have to write about The Dark Knight Rises massacre. I can't seem to bring myself to do it. In my second novel, Fear of a Tabloid Planet, it took literally years for me to write about 9/11. Bret Easton Ellis added the murder sequences in American Psycho after he had written the entirety of the novel by hand. He procrastinated for as long as he could before facing up to what the novel demanded of him. Apparently he was laughing as he wrote those scenes, possibly the most violently misogynistic in the history of transgressive fiction. So I'm currently trawling internet blogs and conspiracy theorists on the web, researching what the paranoid fringes seem to think is a vast web of MK-ULTRA inspired False Flag operations. It's monumentally depressing. I have watched a few Alex Jones videos, the lunatic who went on Piers Morgan and had one of his trademark nervous breakdowns. I would feel sorry for Alex Jones if I wasn't so concerned that he owns a veritable cache of firearms. Lee Harvey Oswald had his nefarious connections to various different murky worlds, but it's a lot scarier to think that he did work alone. As DeLillo once wrote: "Conspiracy offers coherence". Alex Jones is clearly mentally ill. Some people will do anything not to cure their mental illnesses. He's too far gone to seek help now, especially with North Korea kicking off.
It's snowing when I make it to Pynchon Ward, cold and tired and hungry. I head up the elevator, smiling grimly at the old woman in reception. I bump into the nurse who forced me to eat twelve Lorazepam from a cup with my hands held in stress positions by my side. I smile and she looks both guilty and cowed. The ward door opens and Oye, the nurse who once told me that I could never leave unless he let me, opens the door and I blank him. He says nothing, looks at his feet. A woman with half of her face covered in rusted brown bruises (skin cancer? A terrible accident? A vicious fall?) is wandering around incoherently. I walk down the corridor to the office.
"I'm here for my injection," I sigh. The nurse blinks.
"My injection," I repeat.
"I'm sorry, who are you?" She asks.
"Andrew Moody. Emm, double oh, dee, why."
"I don't know... why? What?"
This is always the worst part of coming to Pynchon Ward. The nurses are uniformly uneducated and this is not a difficult job to get.
"I have to have an injection every two weeks. Olanzapine," I say slowly.
"Oh. Take a seat."
I sigh, walk towards the smoking pod, bump into Vicki, the gnarled, witchy black Nurse who took great pleasure in telling me I was not legally allowed into America.
"You can't smoke. You're not a patient," she hisses. For years I was obsessed with the idea of writing the ultimate anti-psychiatry novel. I eventually self-published it as Smoking Is Cool, and managed to get a copy to Bret Easton Ellis at a book signing. I knew he was the most well connected writer in Hollywood. Two years have passed, and I have sold less than thirty copies. Holly sees me walking back from the smoking pod.
"Andrew!" she says. "I can be with you in ten minutes."
"Can I have a cigarette first?" I ask.
"Sure," she smiles. Vicki looks annoyed, sees I have a plastic bag with a copy of Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History and a can of Relentless.
"You can't bring energy drinks onto the ward," she says, plucking it from the bag with two fingers.
I wrote to God the other day. God has over 500,000 followers. He even went to the premiere of Tarantino's Django Unchained. Those that conquer Twitter are the new rockstars of our atomized age. He tweeted that the world was run by facile fools (not quoted verbatim, He has since deleted it) and I replied:
You're much funnier when you don't preach, God
Within ten seconds I'd had five retweets. Then God removed his tweet (thereby deleting mine) and sent me a direct message.
You're much more tolerable when you don't talk.
Left or right?" Holly asks, holding the needle between her fingers.
"You choose," I sigh, undoing my belt.
"I'm thinking right," she says. "Sharp scratch!"
The needle enters my buttock, catching a nerve.
"Nearly done," she sighs. This is the depressing truth about psychiatry. It's not particularly glamorous.
"You can leave in three hours," Holly smiles. I limp out of the medical room and take a seat. After I've been reading about the history of Germany in 1919, and the origins of Nazism, somebody takes a seat next to me. It's a man in his forties, dressed smartly, his eyes calm and slightly dilated.
"I can save you," he whispers. "I can make you happy again..."
Another Jesus, I think. I've met so many here...