Foxes with lanyards

Furries everywhere.

Isn’t it brilliant?! Birmingham – came into a bar for lunch and to charge my phone, stumbled on a furry meetup. Fucking brilliant. Fluffy tails and yelps, bouncing blue wolves and a moose twerking by my table. She holds a large inflatable banana, waves it. I giggle and grin, scribble in my notebook, sip cheap lager. Happy. Possibly a little bit hypo. But I hope not, I hope this is me, at last.

Having a grand old time; woke up with only a faint fog of a hangover; I like hotels (‘liminal spaces, Phil; you like liminal spaces!’), but I’m in a Travelodge, so not so much. Still. Lush beds, good sleep. Came down for the BeyondPositive Birthday Bash, beers and queers and the occasional cheeky fag. Exciting accessories. We ended up in Eden and I ended up sleepy, bad karaoke and me thinking I’m maybe a touch too old for all this. Kissed my goodbyes and returned to the hotel, narrowly avoided Boltz.

(I couldn’t find Boltz)

Wake early because I always do, check out and walk to the library; Birmingham’s new library all light and space, glorious. Musty old books and a kids’ space with a scrap heap spaceship. Roof gardens, apple trees.

Birmingham Library

Sometimes, wandering through Cambridge, I’ve heard a harp played, delicate. Sandstone and subdued, harps sound bright in the staid atmosphere. But on the roof of the library I hear a trumpet riffing out, bouncing up from below. Drizzle mizzling, wet concrete, but the trumpet doesn’t care about that. Bold as brass.

The canals! Canal boats, a river bus. Old pubs and funny graffiti. Geese.

The Bullring is bright and loud and bustling busy, scent of perfumes layered with aftershaves drift by, gaggles. Kids, pushchairs. Posters smiling, telling me my life isn’t complete, and wouldn’t it be great if it was? No, no it wouldn’t. Unbroken symmetries are boring.

Church.

Just outside the Bullring, church. It doesn’t take long for the city to drop away, and it doesn’t take long for me to breathe a bit deeper. Atheist as I am, there’s more than a little peace and fragility in religion. Light through church window

I light a candle, I usually do, when in a church. Don’t say a prayer but I do remember, and it’s good to sometimes shine a small light, light a small flame. There’s the smell of wax, that shimmering heat you get in gathered candlelight. A draught from the door catches the flames, tilts them. I put out my hand, cup my memory. Protect it from the wind for a little while.

Stone! Cool stone, I’ve always loved the touch of cool stone and I place my palm against a column. Sometimes, in my family, we hug trees. Trees are good to hug but stone is good to touch. Old, silent. Cool.

I got a leather jacket! Been meaning to get one for years, got a second hand one in the rag market for 25 quid. It’s scratty and doesn’t quite fit me and I think it probably sums me up quite well, right now.

The rag market is a different kind of bustle, narrow walkways crammed with the slow and shuffling. Second hand electrics, DVDs (‘Clint Eastwood £2!’), cheap incense and Julie’s Stall (‘Mens Socks! Ladies Pants! Top Brands!’). Love it. Endless rolls of fabrics, wall hangings, rugs; second hand jeans for sale, terrible figurines for sale. I grab some chips and walk down to gay street; a homing habit but also – I need to charge my phone.

And the place is full of furries! I love it, I fucking love it. Fluffy tails and antlers, yips and yelps. People dragging suitcases, foxes with lanyards.

Maybe I’m hypo but you know maybe I’m not. I’m not dancing in the street and I’m not belting out tunes. I’m just loving the world; I’m loving the canal boats and cheap pants and the smell of vinegar on hot chips. I’m loving the touch of cool stone, the smell of gathered candlelight. I’m loving that I live in a world which finds space for foxes with lanyards.

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Hangover

Hangovers.

Ugh.

Dashed out the house to make a half nine appointment at Dean Street and ended up taking the wrong branch of the Northern Line, finding myself at Bank. Schoolboy error, and too late to reroute. They’ll have to take my blood another day.

Hungover.

Ugh.

Walked around for a bit – Christ, I’m useless when hungover. Doddered about, mostly lost, ricocheted inside Liverpool Station for twenty minutes. No, I’ve no idea either. Eventually found a Pret to charge my phone.

Flat white. Bacon roll. Overpriced bacon roll. Organic focaccia bread, seriously, who wants that kind of shit mucking up a bacon roll?

Still. Bacon. Hangover bacon. Yum.

Christ I hate the square mile. I always get lost, turned about, and the place reeks of money, the stench makes me gag, makes me sicker than cheap lager. Give me Walworth Road any day of the week, with its vom streaked paving and bleach stripped alleys. Give me gospel and preachers and good old honest thieves. Keep your pinstripe suits and boutiques, the only way anyone ever got rich was by taking other people’s money.

I escape, eventually, heading out to St Paul’s and past. Religion, religion I can deal with better than I used to, it’s not for me but then neither is CBT; and there’s comfort and beauty, and more than a little love, in religion. Bigotry and greed just shout louder, the way the selfish often do. And atheist as I am, I can’t be sure of anything, the only thing I know is no one gets out of here alive.

I walk.

Down the Strand; past the alley that houses Retro, stained with old memories. Homing in to Trafalgar Square, by St Martins. That amazing greasy spoon that manages, somehow, still to hang on. Bet they do better bacon rolls than Pret.

Better coffee, too. Got a thing for cheap coffee and cheap chips, cheap food in cheap cafés.

Past Halfway to Heaven. Fuck it, into Halfway to Heaven, hair of the dog. Friendly staff and that shit music the gays like.

No, not that shit music; the other shit music.

The rim of my glass tastes like washing up liquid. I assume it’s washing up liquid anyway, I don’t make a habit of sucking the teat of the Fairy bottle, unless it’s euphemistically. The lager tastes like water, but it’s cheap lager and if it tasted of lager I’d be suspicious. Old queens talking about Viagra and nipple clamps and the lottery. “Don’t go to GAY, it’s rank” they say. A revelation.

Plug my phone in. Write.

Get over the hangover.

Some bloke from Yorkshire

There is grandeur in this view of life

– Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

I used to think I was Jesus.

Not the Jesus, obviously – that would be crazy. But some kind of god incarnate. Y’know, the condensed form of the underlying spiritual energy of the universe. I didn’t tell anyone, partly because I suspected that, if I did, they wouldn’t believe me; and partly because I knew the time wasn’t yet right. Sure, if I let my soul expand out I could feel the ripple of other people’s minds, around me, singing. And I knew it with certainty, inside me, fully. But I also knew it was best to wait.

If I was Jesus, I’d be dead by now; which just goes to show that there are benefits to not being the spirit of the Word made flesh, savour of the human race – and being instead some bloke from Yorkshire. The former tends not to turn out well. Just ask Christopher Eccleston.

It’s been a long time since I thought I was some kind of celestial being, but it persisted well into my early 20s. Does everyone get that? I mean, when I was a kid I discovered I was double jointed – or, rather, that most other people weren’t. I was a weird kind of revelation to realise that most people couldn’t pop their shoulders in and out of joint, or put their legs behind their head. Does everyone go through a phase of thinking they’re God?

Or maybe just me.

And not all the time. I mean wasn’t hanging out in the union bar secretly thinking I could control the Universe, at least not most of the time. Most of the time I was just trying to get drunk and / or laid. But every now and then it’d pop into my head, obvious as sunlight.

I’m probably not going to tell my psych. It’d just be another bit of the picture, confirming an already diagnosed diagnosis. That’s what I’m doing now, of course; going back through my life, picking up shards of memories, seeing what patterns I can make. Seeing if it makes sense.


 

Of course I might have been right. Maybe I am God. I’m which case… um… sorry. I’ll try to do better next time.

I apologise for the inconvenience.