In which I give myself The Fear on my day off.   Leave a comment

I’m sure there are as many types of hangover as there are stars in the sky. The other day in Cornwall, where I was wedged between my common-law wife, my curious antecedents and my lippy offspring in some theoretical holiday situation, I awoke with a hangover of the soul. I smelt of boozy sweat and bad faith, like a nasty man. In fact I was a bad and nasty man, because Sam was taking Syd to Torquay that day and so I had the time off to do it all again, plus I would have done anyway innit. I had to time my departure from the house in order to just miss the arrival of some “old friends” (Jesus – what kind of grim freaks could they possibly be?) of Mum and Dave’s from Fernhurst, and also to give me enough time to sniff out a hostelry known as the Crow’s Nest, apparently a mile away across the moorlands.
By the time Barkly and I reached the stony yellow scree of the old tin mine’s slagheaps, it was brain-fuckingly hot and we were both panting without dignity. Young Cornish people were doing alarming things on quad bikes and the heat and the noise was making me feel irritated and slightly panicky. I had to keep shouting at the deaf dog when the teens roared past like their short lives meant nothing, and my bag was heavy with notebooks and cameras and rock biogs and ganja and penny whistles, and I felt like some sort of countryside-loving old buffer who just wanted a bit of peace and quiet to do a bit of staring in. I found the pub fairly easily. I could tell where it was because my liver was straining in the opposite direction like a spooked horse, plus I had an old mining map (reprinted in an expensive book that I had to buy David for Christmas).
I lumbered into the pub and the barman looked at me like I was carrying a comedy style bomb with FUCK THE WORLD written on it in white paint. “Hi,” I said.
“…blurugh..” he muttered, under his breath.
I ordered a pint of HSD.
In the garden two old ears were having a conversation that neither of them could be particularly bothered with.
“Will you have a sweet dear?”
“No, I think I’ve had…er…sufficient. Will you have a sweet?”
“No.”
Then the barman comes out to take their plates and one of them starts fawning over him rather bizarrely, going on and on about the superlative quality of the food.
“Well, I’m glad you ate it all,” he says, gruffly.
I buy my second pint and this time matey comes over all matey, as they sometimes do, and when I’ve finished that I release Barkly from where he has been tethered and shaking with small-dog nerves and we set off again.
So now I reckon, all full of HSD, that I’m OK to have just a really small pipe. In the end I find myself having the sort of lungful that makes your lungs burn so much that they fling out half the smoke in violent, helpless coughing, and so I’m there in an old tin mine building choking like some sort of crack addict, and this is where it all starts to go hideously WRONG KONG.
I climb back up the hill towards where the quad-people were, and indeed still are, and by the time I’ve done that the exertion and the heat and the double-time heartbeat associated with THE FEAR have sent me on an UGLY DEATH TRIP IN MY MIND. I stop for a while because I’m too paranoid to make human contact with the teen-bikers because I know I might as well have a big sign above my head saying COSMIC JOKER and I need desperately to calm down somehow. Unfortunately the humming stillness of the summer heat creates a sort of pumping tension that threatens to derail me once and for all and my heart is beating like a gabba kick drum and I hear some more people approaching on the path behind me and realize that I am trapped and I suddenly blurt out “I’m in a hellworld!”
And then I sort of look around at the countryside and the sunshine and get a sudden sense that I have to get a grip on myself. I imagine what Richard Rippin would be thinking if he could see me know, and I realize he’d probably be laughing his tiny head off, and so I go off and hide in some undergrowth and make a short film about being paranoid on drugs for Richard Rippin.
I think the worst aspect of The Fear is that no matter where you are YOU ARE FUCKED and you can’t access some safe zone where everything will be OK because THERE IS NOWHERE TO RUN AND NOWHERE TO HIDE. I swear I could be on a boat in the middle of the ocean and I’d be hallucinating cops or killer whales or something. I’m quite proud of the fact that a bad dose of The Fear made me hallucinate an entire dog once. Me and Cosmic Keith had a spliff up on the downs and as we staggered back down I heard a sudden noise behind me and I manage to conjure up this vicious hound snapping at my heels. The funny thing was that it wasn’t a mystical black dog or a frothing Rottweiler but a small white dog, like a poodle or something!
Anyway, my problem in this instance out on the moors was that I couldn’t go home to mother because mother was there, and so were the friends from Ferhurst. I figured I’d better give them at least two hours to do a visit, but that that should be easily enough because there were heading back Oop North to West Sussex. So I went and hid in the undergrowth again and made another long film about paranoia, and a small one about a caterpillar. As I finally got up to try my hand at reality again, I saw a couple in their thirties walking across the heath towards me. There was something about everything about them that enabled me to intuit that they were planning to make love, and I sat back down again hurriedly. Then I realized I was hiding in a bush next to a clearing, clutching a video camera, and looking a little distracted perhaps. There were now about thirty feet away, and appeared to have stopped. Either they were going to do the summer loving there, or they had spotted me and were afraid, and either way I was the one that was fucked because I could hardly try and slope off whilst they were in the middle of it. You see what I mean about nowhere to hide? I drew myself to my full height from my hidden position in the two foot undergrowth, and, pretending I hadn’t seen them, walked purposefully off in the other direction, trying to look as much like John Craven as possible.
I figured that by now it would be safe to go home, but neared my Mum’s house I saw an unfamiliar vehicle parked outside. I hesitated in the road for a few seconds, trying to decide whether to turn and run back on to the heath, but then realized that I might have already been spotted by someone in the house, and that running away might look a tad weird. I don’t think anyone was watching me at that point but if they were they would then have been treated to the spectacle of me opening a cattle-gate a little way to squeeze through, and then get my rucksack snarled up, so that I was caught for a few long seconds before wriggling through like a demented sheep.
Thank fuck everyone was in the back garden, and I raced upstairs to hide, grabbing a can of Stella on the way. They would know I was home by the dog’s appearance, but I would have ten or fifteen minutes grace before they might start to think I was some sort of asocial monster and I’d have to go and introduce myself, and then they’d realize that indeed I was, and with darting red eyes. I also had a hunch that the guests would be fatigued by the social rituals of the visit, and might take the opportunity to say goodbye to Mum and David before having to say hello to some strange adult son who disappears upstairs after dog walks. This was in fact the case, and after about five minutes, I heard them leave. This felt like such a victory of the intellect that the last few large chunks of paranoia were washed down with the Stella’s chemically bubbles, and I descended the stairs with the air of one who has leapt from the frying pan onto the countertop, and so it was because I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner, which had seemed like a hideous millstone of responsibility a bit earlier, but now was a welcome and productive chore to focus on, and smilin
g inanely at whoever came past.
It’s funny, because I’d thought I’d made a video document of a mind in turmoil experiencing a nasty drug freakout, but the footage is actually fairly amusing.

Posted September 1, 2003 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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