In My Father’s Words
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
Nowhere To Go
It was not a good time. No, that’s wrong. It was a very bad time. At that moment, however, I believed it was the worst time in my life. Life would, in due course, have a hearty chuckle, kick me sharply in the teeth, and demonstrate that things could get a whole lot worse. But just then, back then, they were bad enough to be going on with, thank you.
As I packed the car the cat from next door came along and stopped to watch events. “What do you want?” I snarled. The cat was pretty cool about it, looked dismissively at me, flicked her ears and walked away, tail high in the air. “Where are you going, puss?” The cat went through a hedge into a garden and I lost sight of her. “Never mind the bloody cat, you dipstick, where are you going?” I had nowhere to go.
I turned back to the car, my mind a kaleidoscope of conflicting, painful emotions. It wasn’t as if we’d been married; it was worse than that, I was still in love with the lady. I checked the car, noting sadly the black plastic bin liners crowded together on the back seat, like some weird soul group on their way to a gig. “I think that’s everything.” I checked the house again, tears filling my eyes and rolling unchecked down my cheeks. This was not how it was meant to turn out. In the kitchen I washed and dried a coffee mug and automatically repositioned the two pine stools I had assembled so carefully, when, a year ago.
The wallpaper in the lounge had curled up a little near the radiator. I fetched the Prit and glued it back again. We had papered the room together before the previous Christmas, desperate to finish before her parents arrived. I didn’t go into the bedroom, simply shut the door. I didn’t see it at the time, but it was a deeply symbolic action. This was the second time in two years I had packed up and left a house and woman, carrying black bin liners. The first time it was my house and my wife, but our marriage had run its course, destroyed in the end by mutual indifference. This time it was not over for me, and so this was worse, much worse.
I locked the front door and put the keys through the letterbox. I hoped there were no neighbours watching. No net curtains twitched and even the next door car was now nowhere to be seen. The car started immediately and purred quietly, as if anxious not to intrude. Goodbye Leatherhead, hello Epsom
I was fifty, divorced with an ex wife who hated me, a son who hated me and now an ex lover who hated me. My former wife had the house, the furniture and most of my money. So much so that I couldn’t afford a mortgage, or a holiday. On the other hand, I had inherited all the photograph albums.
“Where are you going?” Physically only as far as Epsom, but in life terms, I had no idea. I was lost, going nowhere. The one bedroom flat in Epsom was everything a one bed roomed flat was supposed to be. Very little. All the neighbours were either young couples out at work, or old ladies hiding behind the nets. I still had my job, thank God and the BMW, but no sense of purpose or direction. I hated that bloody flat, hated it with an intensity of feeling.
Things went downhill from there. Eating was done in pubs, Pizza Hut or McDonalds’s. Drinking was done everywhere. Whiskey became by best friend and worst enemy. Did I want to live like this? No. Could I do anything about it? It sure as hell looked like I couldn’t.
I went to the doctor. “You’re depressed.” Christ, it takes five years at University to diagnose that? He prescribed Prosac. “I can’t sleep.” Temazapan.
What a lethal mixture, Prosac, Temazapan and Famous Grouse. It nearly killed me; it certainly turned me into a zombie. There were times when I thought of ending it all, but they were impostors, such thoughts. I knew I didn’t have the balls for that. Eventually the tablets were flushed down the toilet and the whiskey finished and not replenished. I had eighteen months of this half-life. At Christmas 1990 I met Jeanne. Almost at once I realised that I knew where I was going and the certainty lasted for five years. Then life, as it has a habit of doing, decided to replay the past again.
Written by BM