My sociopath within sleeps with one eye open. Crouching somewhere between my brain stem and my neocortex, he squats, twitching like a dog dreaming of hares.
Last night, I had again had the delight of pacing and yelping and miming across the floor of the Cambridge Union for a couple of hours. It is a room made for loud extemporising. I drank Appletize with the half exhausted festival volunteers, creators and an occasional physicist (like an occasional table but with less certainty), then walked back to my hotel.
The streets were empty, the colleges were beautiful, imposing, conveying their history as imposingly and silently as a Lee van Cleef stare. It was easy to conjure up ghosts of intellectual fops and distracted philosophers, so lost in logical positivism they teeter into the Cam. It was also a relief to notice that the stink of chicken manure that had being moving through Cambridge like an incontinent poltergeist was finally drifting further into the fens.
Today, all was calm until 4.10pm. Due to illness, for the final London Book Club I was without my books. They are boxed in a seaside town, close to the original charity shop homes I took them from. I was already somewhat down on tonight’s Book Club as it had sold rather poorly. This had soaked me with doubt over whether I should have started anything like it again. Once the gilt was off, it all felt like a retrograde step, and I had decided to put it back in the ground. Perhaps it had all been a ruse, an alibi allowing me to purchase 60s romp novels and sex manuals under the pretence it was “all for art”.
Without the steamy books, I set about going through my phone and finding all the photographs I had taken of Johnny Mains fine pulp collection when visiting his Plymouth archive in February.
Red-Hot Broad – “she’s a nympho and a jinx to every man she meets”
Good-Time Girl – “beautiful, but cold…like a swift mountain stream”
My Profession is Sin – “the violence and venality of sex has never been so daringly exposed”
The Sex Shuffle – “ For a quick hot thrill…there’s nothing like another guy’s wife”
Then, I found myself in the ludicrous situation of being ridiculous me swearing at my phone, laptop and images of “Sex Off Limits” and “Hot Prowl” as they refused to make the journey from mobile phone to keynote presentation. Some things were broken by the time I l left the house.
On the fortunately quiet train to London, I continued downloading the lurid images for liberal filth. At Euston, the waiting commuters did that “zombie horde want brains” formation around the opening tube doors, leaving the departing the slimmest of escape routes. Finally, the sociopath awoke. I didn’t like the smell of the man standing next to me, both his deodorant and his sweat were strong, the failure of one to do its job had made them both much worse. It wasn’t nauseatingly strong, just annoyingly human. Sometimes, I get pinch-faced and obstreperous with the exterior of people, this evening I was clenching as I thought about what was behind our stone-face exteriors. All that lunch decaying in our stomachs, that vast population of bacteria behind moisturised skin, the compacting of the next day’s bowel movement, this brief commute had woken up my sense of disgust. Like the first time you have the horror of imagining your teacher having sex, I imagined all those around me as their wretched, unobserved selves – the nose picking, flatulent, scab picking, wax eating self, though obviously there are days you can see that all before your eyes in your train carriage too.
On my journey back, I no longer saw people as holdalls of the disgusting, the wriggling and the decomposed, all was back to normal. The politer and the exhausted people were not from Shivers or Rabid, how foolish I had been to be read that Cronenberg interview that morning, surely I could have been prescient enough to know I would be grumpy and surrounded later that day? I hope there is no spiked mutation in my armpit now.
It could be worse, I could be X-The Man with X Ray Eyes.
I am off to Leeds, Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Isle of Wight, Southampton and YOUR TOWN…probably. Details HERE (oh, and Alan Moore is joining us on Wednesday for the Art is Dead show in Northampton)
My new DVD, 3 hours long, and starting differently each time and in a different order to recreate sense of live confusion HERE
Great (and honest) piece of writing. When I used to live and work in London, I had altogether too many odd episodes ilke this. Self-disgust as well as sociopathic.. Concluded I would be better off rural and moved to the north of Scotland, Friends told me I was “burying myself in the country”, but buried alive was exactly how I felt in an urban environment. Home is hills and lochs and beaches now. I can visit cities, but I can’t stay too long.