ALONE NEVER ALONE:
6:30am, Christmas Day, alarm goes off. The place next to me
is empty, a memory of mornings like this a long time ago,
it twists it’s tiny knife. Look up at the sky for just
long enough, feel alive, fling back the covers & rise.
It’s waiting, silent on the bottom of the bed as it does
every morning, it asks,
“Ready to come back my love?”
I launch into Scrunter’s ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS‘, loud enough for
the household to hear & know my mood is good or at least
pointed in good orderly direction. It watches me, doesn’t
move, slight grin, pleased to be noticed. I get up swift,
it’s dark, pale horizon slit, skyfull of familiar
constellations, a solitary car nudging slow & steady between
the fields. Heart sinks for a second, has it snowed?!
knocks me back, the thought of digging out the car, salting
the road, precarious metal winding up in ditches, metal bent
with terminal thud.
It moves on the end of the bed, ready to receive, knows I
could go either way any day, it can still taste me, know I’m
worth the wait,
“Ready?” it whispers, “No one loves you like me”
I flick all the lights on, switch songs – ‘HAPPINESS‘ –
Ken Dod circa 1964, selecting clothes for a day in front of
family cameras, imagine how it’ll look years from now,
make it good or make it funny & funny is as good you want
scrolling back through their digital memories.
The bathroom’s cold, undress, it stings, the heating timer
set for later than civilian time, week time, timetable time,
rush & stress out time, this is weekend ease off a little
time, time between times, no man’s land where you could drop
your guard & let it in, fool yourself that was the voice of
reason you were hearing. The house, unprepared for my early
rise recoils, looks unshaven. I chuckle, remembering being
homeless, late 80’s, sleeping alone on the floor of an
industrial unit, South Essex farm stock. Sire Records USA
had advanced us the money to make what would be our last
record for them. We used it to build a recording studio
instead of flushing it down the hole, a squat mis-shapen box
concealed behind aircraft hanger doors, an industrial block
at the end of a dirt track at the back of a garden centre
with a paint balling tank.
With nowhere to live I slept on the control room floor,
newspapers, note book, three channel tv & take aways.
Stepped out every morning through those rumbling iron lips
to a chill bitten wind, stripped to the waste in an outside
toilet, barefoot concrete, cold tap wash basin. The water
stung on every cupping but warmed so fast it thrilled me,
made me want more, grinning, laughing, invincible
“Is that all you got!!!”
remembering Granddad washing every day this way in the kitchen,
gas cooker, pre-day shift at the pit, fat steaming kettles,
hands like gentle shovels, paddling warm milky water into the
coves of muscled armpits, fat heaving leather belt, shirt tucked
in by the tails, arms & cuffs dragging the kitchen floor.
I washed every morning, remembering him, laughing at the pain of
every scooped handful, gasping at each hit, inhaling that signature
disinfected piss that only belongs to our Island.
The radiators tick, the timer starts the pump, my hand
reaches out to close the glass, twist the smooth action
regulator & feel the hot sting, sing
“Happiness, Happiness, the greatest thing that I possess”
This cheese wouldn’t stand up to hardcore expectations of the
youtube generation, but maybe they don’t start every day with that
shadow on the end of the bed.
This song this tool, is a path, this route, out, up & into the light,
a kick start set up, a new leaf fluttering on summer’s branch.
The voice in the shower sounds like my Dad more every day.
Perhaps I remember hearing him through the stud wall of my
teenage bedroom singing the same song?