I can remember all too clearly as I sat among the discarded take-away boxes and empty wine bottles. As I watched the newsreel creep through the cigarette smoke to flow into the glass of my spectacles I become all to aware that there was something seriously wrong here. With me, with this television and those images that projected themselves onto me, and etched themselves deeper and deeper into my skull. But these were not the worst of them.
Night after night I found myself gorging on these images. Like a hapless voyeur I gorged on stories of bombings in tube stations filmed through the lens of some unsuspecting participant. One such occasion, you could see the flash before the person in front was blasted against the walls of the carriage. Chemical attacks on civilians had now taken refuge in the mind to the extent that I would imagine myself there at the time, gasping until my organs fell through. It had become common for me to imagine these scenarios and would ponder which role I would assume. Perhaps I couldn’t take it any longer and decided that the best thing to do in the long run was to strap myself with fertilizer and wave goodbye to the old limbs, I don’t know. This has been going on now for far too long now that I struggled to feel the cigarette between my fingertips.
I needed to construct some sort of time bomb so that I could shatter time like the body of that poor chap on the television. Perhaps if I did that, everything would be wonderful again. A loud boom! Then nothing whenever again.
I couldn’t stay there for much longer. If I did then I’d begin to look a lot like that exposed wall over there. Stained with unimaginable substances and piss that I wasn’t even sure belonged to myself. They have already set the wheels turning.
The alarm screeches and vibrates violently on the bedside table. Ringing out a bleep that increases in pitch the longer I leave it until it becomes a disorienting white noise that brings on a fit of vomiting in the bathroom.
Stroking the bedside table with the palm of my hand I knock over several books that were piled next to the lampshade. With them went my mobile phone so I wriggled out of bed and sprawled on the floor and clutched it tightly and with half blinded eyes I saw the flash of 06:35. Noticing the dampness of my boxer shorts I realize that Jane had some trouble drifting off herself.
Downstairs on the ground by the front door lies a collection of letter containing the concerns of well-wishers. With them was a postcard addressed to next door that simply reads ‘Remember?’ displaying a photograph of a lighthouse basking in the daylight of Crete. There was also a bundle of magazines that Jane has been a long-lasting subscriber. Vogue and Cosmopolitan where among them. Pockets into her aspirational lifestyle. The hum from BBC NEWS 24 fills the morning air as the coffee boils in the pot.
Jane will be down shortly. Since being the age of eleven or twelve, Jane has been locked into the routine of having to count three minutes out in individual minutes. One to sixty-three times before she can start her day. I can recall one occasion when she lay there for two hours and thirteen minutes, all the while she screaming that the minutes were not her master. Her legs would not budge as they have become slaves to a schedule set fifteen years ago.
Coffee boiling in the pot. The aroma drowning out the sound of drivel spewing out of Peter Hunt’s face. A welcomed alternative to the medical problems of the blue blooded. The morning stretches long across the sky and descends upon the minds of the nation.
Picking up one of Jane’s magazines that I had placed on the kitchen work top. The glossed magazine slips from my damp fingertips and slides across the kitchen floor at speed, Picking it up again, it slips upwards with each pinch like a bar of soap in a hot bath so I through it down forcefully, back onto the counter in which it came. All is lost in the frolic of the flowers.
Flicking through the pages my eyes are drawn to the apparent aging star of the stage and screen whose name, for some reason escapes me. There, the two page spread was dedicated to pinpointing and plotting the imperfections that now paved the landscape of her body. I was taking note of the block red circles that encompassed and scrutinized the contours of her body. Next to them were images of her past. Five years ago on the red carpet when she won a BAFTA for her performance of the late Diana Spencer.
The magazine had employed an array of cosmetic
surgeons who had penned outlines for rhinoplasty operations, drawing attention to a slight bend of her nose which doesn’t quite meet the minimal requirements for a woman of her position, detailed critiques of the excess skin around the upper and lower eyelids, and drawing more lines to show how all this can be reduced by a blepharoplasty which would make her less heavy on the eyes. Facelift scars reducing sagging in the mid and lower face, unveiling how her tone has taken knocks over the years, ceroplastes, liposuction of the thighs and arms and a tummy tuck to boot. They droolled over her with their felt-tips and their scalpels, running their tongues across their whitened teeth and shaking their heads until she gets the picture, their picture, like a canvas, moulding her image out of old flesh and Botox.
The opinions of loyal readers littered the block red circles which express an offence to their delicate sensibilities with as much articulacy as ‘Err, look at the fat bitch!’ and prompting one woman to write in expressing her disgust that her daughter has to look at such a thing, and that she really ought to set an example. This left a bad taste in my mouth like a rusted nail piercing the roof of my mouth, washing shard ridden blood to the back of my throat.