Oh, woe is me.
The main problem with accepting that there is a crossed wire or two inside my head is that I accept it completely. Things go wrong and I point to the faulty wiring. My wife tuts, even though she has come to the opinion that I was never, ever, quite right. She has been reading some of the stuff that I have written and I have watched the dawning glow of realisation coming over her.
“Why didn’t anybody tell me that you were like this when I married you? I bet your family couldn’t keep their faces straight at the wedding.”
Actually, retrospect points me to all those faces that were not straight. Did she know what she was letting herself in for? Well, yes and no. So, here we are awaiting another car crash and it’s my birthday and I am feeling, well I’m feeling quite normal…so that’s the problem.
During the day, people have been wishing me well. My mother phoned up and wished me a happy birthday. My younger sister phoned and had a relatively long conversation. I put a fairly carefree tone into my voice realising that I was not being completely truthful. It’s difficult, however, to not kid yourself about yourself when you’ve been kidding yourself ever since you were born. My dad used to say, “Never kid a kidder,” but I must not have been listening.
To celebrate being another year older, I was going out for a cycle ride with my neighbour who is of the same age as me but is profoundly more successful. He’s a scientist working for a pharmaceutical company and seems to be always indifferently happy. I envy him that. His wife is the same and, having given up the rat race in which she was even more successful than her spouse, she now works at Tesco, stacking shelves whilst being happy. Oh, well. I could never imagine either of them falling into the psychological chasms that I have done. The bottom line is that I like these two, a lot. Decent people, the pair of them. So where did it all go wrong?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:
Mi Lord, you will be aware that it was the day that was set aside to celebrate the time of my birth. I cycled with my neighbour and he beat me up a steep hill. The new me told the old me that this didn’t matter, even if I considered myself the far stronger cyclist. It did not matter! Shake that mother of all competitiveness from your bones, old man and just enjoy the ride.
So far, so good….
However what began as a seed of optimism, for my long-awaited return to normality, ended with me at three o’clock the following morning, head in hands, bemoaning my crossed stars and the ill-fortune that decided to make me an emotional and social half-wit.
Alcohol had been involved. Alcohol and a mitigating mixture of anxiety-quelling drugs. The drugs kept me calm and the alcohol made me think that everything would be alright, considering that I was a normal fifty-five year old enjoying the company of my wife and two lovely neighbours come to wish me a happy birthday.
I can’t remember when the lights went out.
I must have been still sitting and talking when something flicked inside. One moment I was providing non-mellifluent accompaniment to my fellow cyclist’s incredibly good guitar playing and the next I was turning over in bed, actually on top to the duvet, fully clothed, without a wife at the side of me.