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Park life

  Mon 20th May 2019

I went to my GP's practice on Friday, a place of disorder, different from the prim Georgian living room of the surgery in Lancaster. I wanted to ask about my hernia, which I'm tempted to ignore, and my alcoholism, which I shouldn't.

I veer between worry and carelessness about my drinking. Every night lately, I fester in thoughts of being unloved. "You no more love me than you love the second lampost on the left," I say to an imagined Wendy. I run and re-run, the incident when Helen came over and I was exiled while they all partied, because the Little Dictator would be there. I can't get over it, and it's happening again on Saturday, when Kitty, Wendy and her auntie will be celebrating Wendy's birthday. "I'm a second class, inferior, arm's length friend," I moan, a muttering obsessive churning his self-pitying phrases. I try different positions in bed, seeking one that will be so comfortable it will smother this vandalising chatter in my head.

At the desk, there is a bureaucratic problem -- I am an "inactive patient", which means that they've lost the registration forms I took in months ago. I went home and typed in "help for alcoholism Bristol", and found a meeting of a group which practices a combination of CBT and something with the forbidding name Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. My gut feeling was that it wouldn't work. Apart from my Dad kicking me in the head in the hallway when I was nine I had a plain childhood, albeit with lots of moving around, so there's no early trauma narrative to get cathartic over.

Neither do I have a contemporary sorrow to explain my drinking. I'm in a financially precarious state, but it's one that lets me read, and acquire sunburn in Castle Park of an afternoon. Having once been imprisoned in a callcentre, I like to lay down, settling for sleep in view of the current bondservants in the glassed panopticon opposite. I am recognised in the park now by its habituées -- the black men who ask me why I'm not exercising with them, the Spanish bin man, the purple-haired, sexist punk, the generous Malaysian drunkards profferring endless Stella. I don't want to give this up; I never went to the course.


On my way back home, I popped into the local hardline Muslim bookshop, where I had a fruitless conversation with a polished young man over a book in which I was showing interest, which explained why music is haram. Joylessness, the overlapping centre in the Venn diagram of religions. I went to a Somalian cafe, where I had an espresso for a pound and felt self-conscious.


Walking home last night, I was approached by a man who offered me a box of wine for a fiver. As I didn't want to see him burdened with it in his arms, which might have developed chafing sores as he carried it home, I agreed to the bargain. I think it's important we do our bit for strangers.

8 comments

All caught up. I’m sorry you still pine away for that which you cannot have but am happy to see your writing is still second to none. At least that part of your life hasn’t suffered. I worry about your drinking. None of my business, I know, but this is the internet so I can say whatever I want without fear of reprisal. All good wishes to you, sir.

Tue 21st May 2019 @ 11:38 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

*I* worry about it :) If only for the money I could save. And I suppose that while I feel fine at the moment, it might be doing silent harm.

I managed to get an appointment at my overstretched doctor’s next month.

Tue 21st May 2019 @ 13:08 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]  

Go to AA find a meeting. Go along. You’ll at least get a cup of tea (possibly a biscuit or two as well) and am hour and a half in which to listen or just self meditate.

RET is very like CBT I’ve done both. From the Ellis school if psychotherapy. Actually they don’t look to early trauma that’s Freud etc psychoanalysis stuff. It’ll look at how you behave and try to get you to be more aware of your feelings, emotions etc that lead to behaviour you want to change. Then try to get you to use techniques to change your behaviour based on that knowledge.

Personally for drinking my advice is always try AA. It was the only thing that worked for me after a 25 year drinking career and had kept me sober 15 years now.

Wed 22nd May 2019 @ 10:10 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

I had liver damage by the age of 23…
Take Furtheron’s advice.
Sx

Fri 24th May 2019 @ 08:38 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

I hope you don’t give up! It was nice getting drunk with you!

Sat 25th May 2019 @ 20:23 Reply to this comment
Comment from: loby [Visitor]

Was, and will be, I hope – for longer next time.

Sat 25th May 2019 @ 21:59 Reply to this comment

I always think that vices give you up, as opposed to the other way round. You’re old enough to sort yourself out, if that’s what you want (what you really really want).

Cor, you get offered a gallimaufry of gifts up there in that there Bristol. A box of knives, followed by a box of wine. I must be living on the wrong side of London. Mind you, I did enjoy a 2 way rant about the hell of a handbasket we’re heading towards with some random geezer while dog walking t’other day. He gave me huge handfuls of dog biscuits (I declined some for myself but the dog gobbled them up gratefully) unbidden. Can that count as friendly stranger freebies? We chatted together for over an hour as our pooches sniffed and trotted around us. I found out I am exactly 1 week older than him, which pleased me no end and allowed me to patronise his young(er) sensibilities.

Talking of sensibilities, what’s the Dr advised re your hernia?

Mon 27th May 2019 @ 01:30 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I love encounters with strangers in parks. And for it to conclude with dog biscuits gives it special quality :)

I’m going to be prodded about and told to “pop” various items of clothing off, on 10th June. Earliest I could get. I really want to get back exercising again.

(By the way, Furtheon and S – I’m ignorning you only in that way that when something impresses one it’s sometimes difficult to find anything to say about it).

Mon 27th May 2019 @ 09:09 Reply to this comment


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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person


M / 55 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

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