One day I opened Microsoft Word and simply started typing. The result was saved as “Diary Ah.doc”, and I was so enthused about it that I decided to continue with it from time to time. It’s sort of like a diary, and far more confessional than I normally write. It’s basically about me, and normally I’d never say these things, but given that earlier tonight I decided to just let it all out, then maybe this kind of thing is is exactly what I ought to let out. After all, that’s how it was written, in stream-of-consciousness and without censor, even though it is often written hours after the events have taken place.
So this is part one, look for part two soon. If nothing else, it’s honest.
I am I awake – I think. How can I even tell? It feels like awake – the vague yet constant sense of unease, unrelenting input from senses that can’t be turned off, the ongoing mumbling and muttering to myself as the environment dictates. Another long conversation with myself. I am less of a bore in my dreams I can assure you. More charismatic for one thing – I rarely pluck up the courage to talk to other people out here in the cold light of reality. When I do the resulting conversation is always an exercise in the comically tragic.
When I was a kid I used to think grown-ups knew all the secrets, that one day you came of age and you were let in on all the little secrets; how to talk to people, how clouds work, how to get through a day. Twenty two years in and if anything I’m becoming more confused by the day. Does everyone feel this way, or was I just missing the day they handed out the guide to life? Is this the human condition or am I just a sap?
When you live the way I live, largely independently and largely without non-familial attachment, you begin to feel as though you’re becoming an astute observer of the human condition. Watching other people interact, their follies and fuck-ups, the way they talk and dress and act, the way they eat – you begin to feel superior, able to judge their behaviour objectively, recognise their mistakes and flaws, evaluate their entire existence in a tiny window of voyeurism. You go on thinking this for some time, but in the end you come to realise that watching people just feeds the loneliness, which in turn feeds the paranoia. That’s the real killer, the paranoia. If you always assume the worst, then you deem every stranger’s smile a smile of mocking, every laugh a laugh of derision, every look a look of disgust.
When two people kiss in front of me at a train station, I feel uncomfortable. Is it because they’re sharing personal feelings publicly in a nauseating manner? Or am I uncomfortable because I’m not the one kissing, nor do I kiss anyone on any kind of a regular basis – and truth be told even if I did, I would probably find it impossibly difficult to express these feelings publicly? It’s a little of both I think.
Regardless of the volume of my internal debate, they’re still at it. Still kissing on the opposite platform. Don’t they realise I’m uncomfortable here?
Been sitting here for forty minutes, I think. There’s a minor fatigue in my Gluteus Maximus from the unforgiving wooden slats of the bench. This kind of seating is not designed for long-term occupation, and yet somehow I always find myself occupying them, long-term.
Waiting. Always waiting. Nothing ever happens.
The earphones are beginning to irritate my ears. Oxbow. Eugene Robinson sings about a woman. She is a find, so he tells me. Sounds like it to me.
Check my watch. Right wrist, not left. Is that the wrong side for a right-handed man? That’s what I was always told. It always felt more natural to me on the right. Will people look at me differently because of it? Do I care?
One Fifty-Seven. More people are on the platform now. Nineteen minutes till the train is declared late.
I’m always waiting for something to happen. Sometimes I sit at home, staring at the laptop, hoping somebody will talk to me, email me, reply on a forum, reply to a comment on Myspace. Revisiting the same sites repeatedly, in the hope something has updated in the ten minutes since my previous check. Other times waiting for an arrival in the post, my latest Amazon order. The promise of the package is always better than the contents themselves. I just like to give myself a present every now and then – especially when I don’t deserve it. When I do get the temerity to go outside, I’m waiting for a bus, waiting for a train, waiting for a car, waiting for a band to walk on stage. I must spend three quarters of my day just waiting for that one quarter to happen.
The buses are the worst though. The one I intend to take arrives fve minutes too early and doesn’t wait, the next one is ten minutes late. The knock-on effect is either I miss my train and have to wait an hour for the next one, or I build in enough of a safety window by getting a half-hour earlier bus and sitting for half an hour at the station. That’s at least an hour I lose before even getting on the train; it’s lose-lose.
This time I missed the train by a matter of seconds. Jumped off the stairs onto the platform just as the doors closed. So I wait.
Two Minutes Past Two. Awake? Eugene is trucking across the great plains of Texas. The fuck across to be exact. I believe him. What reason would he have to lie?
Ah excellent, a goth has joined us on the platform. I pretended to be a goth for a while. Not a fan these days. These people claim to be so non-conformist but they all conform to stereotype. Maybe it’s just shorthand? What she believes, the music she likes, the way she behaves, to convey all this information quickly and to the point in her appearance, so everyone will know without needing to ask?
Here I am judging this girl on her appearance. I feel like she wants me to judge her, otherwise why would she go to these lengths to conform to this archetype? It’s human nature to judge on sight. It’s a primal thing. It’s how you tell predator from prey, suitable mate from sexual rival. Thanks to society we have extended our judgemental nature to assume character traits. It sickens me that I could be judged in human terms in this way, and yet here I am engaging in it myself. This would be irony if it weren’t so utterly void of humour.
Now I have that out of my system, back to the waiting. Six Minutes Past Two. Bored. I wonder how many pigeons there are for every person in the UK? I wouldn’t be surprised if the pigeons outnumbered the people. Pigeons have a bad rep. Rats of the sky. Don’t be stupid; bats are rats of the sky. Don’t these people know anything about evolution? Hell, they even rhyme.
Pigeons are just dirty-looking doves. They do no harm. I don’t see what’s so bad about rats either. I once heard of some kids who took a puppy out to the park and kicked it around like a football till it died. If anyone’s fucking vermin, it’s us.
Battery is running out on my MP3 player. One bar left. Good for another couple hours. I can’t stand to be without it on the streets. It’s my shield, it keeps me from having to absorb the real world through yet another of my weary senses. It desensitizes me and alienates me. It feeds the loneliness which in turn feeds the paranoia. Sometimes when an album finishes I stare at it for several minutes, unable to decide what next to listen to. How could it be so hard? Why do I hardly ever want to listen to most of the music I have? I’m too picky.
Two Ten. The rhythm is jerky and stuttering, infectious. I’m tired. It’s amazing how tiring sitting around all day is. It’s astonishing really. I must be putting on weight. I can feel it.
I really don’t know any black people. Not that I know that many people to begin with. Who needs them? Remember that girl on that train? Another missed opportunity. The platform is filling up with people. How many people need to travel to Glasgow on a Wednesday afternoon? Enough it seems that getting a pair of seats to myself will be tough.
Why are people so bad? Is it the paranoia talking? Wish I could just stop thinking for a day.
People are moving towards the edge. Is that the train? Indeed it is.
Oxbow is finished, I’ll queue up the next album. Neurosis? Too abrasive. Robert Fripp? Too monophonic. Talking Heads it is. Speaking in Tongues again? That’ll kill forty minutes.
Train has stopped, but there’s always that dramatic pause before the doors open and the dregs spill out cross the concrete platform, with their wheeled luggage and disobedient children. Two Fourteen. I always forget that the time advertised is departure not arrival. Two minutes less to wait – blessed relief.
Now just an hour to wait and I’ll be in Glasgow, wonderful place that it is.