Content 18 + (published as is, blog owner may have different opinion from the author) I had flunked my degree at the University of Bath — a savage spectacle where all the students met to see their results, and I was the only El Floppo Cunto — and it was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. Moreover, I had brought Jackie with me up to the Uni to see the good news of my Degree in Sociology announced to all the world.
Jackie, who by then was very pregnant and uncommonly drab-looking on that particular day, as I recall — if it had been Halloween you would swear that she had dressed up as a Pork Pie — was stared at in disbelief by the pretty university girls I had so arduously and for the most part unsuccessfully pursued. The message in their eyes was clear: OK, you weren’t worthy of us, but Bloody Hell, we thought you would have done better than That. And on top of it all, you FAILED the course, You Tosser.
( — They say that if you are a woman and find yourself in the grips of a psychopathic killer, the best way to save yourself is simply to laugh at him….)
It was one of the few moments when I couldn’t do a fast shuffle to save face. Tell some lie or perform a misdirection miracle to send everyone’s eyes off in the wrong direction. I just wanted to put my head down and get out of there. I did not love my wife, I did not love our child she was carrying in her stomach. I wanted to be with one of those girls who were looking at me now with amused contempt. The was the worst of it. I wanted one of the girls (any of them, damn it !!) who, in their hearts, must have been thinking ‘So this is what an insect looks like when it has achieved human form. The Great Eric. The great, self-styled Lover who was going to bomb our pussies like the Luftwaffe was going to level London. Let him creep from our mist.” And I did. With my wife. We wandered out of Eden that way, both of us fallen by MY ugliness alone.
At last I was able to find a job — in a piecework factory in Chippenham, which was a 40 minute bus ride from Bath (company shuttle) but which left my pick-up point at 5.30 A.M. — an hour at which I was often shattered beyond belief after a night of Guinness and Natural Dry Cider. At least we were secure in living in Jackie’s parents’ big house there in Widcombe Village, so if I couldn’t always get to work, I didn’t need to worry about getting turfed out of my digs. I had married the Passmore’s daughter, so they had to put up with the occasional ‘errors in judgment’ committed by the new member of the family. Which they did with increasingly long-faced and charcoal colored scowls.
The university and its girls were a thing of the past, and my mood was helped by the fact that I figured they had forgotten all about me. If not forgiveness, at least forgetfulness — that sort of thing. Besides, the one thing a sociopath really truly believes is that everyone is just as free of a conscience as he is. When he kills something, it never occurs — or matters — to him that people actually grieve over it. And it’s why in big cities, people recognize that whatever they have done near Stop A, no one will have heard about at Stop B. In other words, the people at Stop A have ceased to matter once you disembark at ‘B’. So the psychopath or sociopath (there is a difference), whether he is a murderer or not or simply a guy who threw up on the street at ‘A” — understands (or assumes) that none of it is really real. To bother hiding your crime or just leave it in the street matters only if there will be consequences. Whatever the case, the thing that matters the Least are the feelings, wishes, pain, etc. of the victim(s). The only thing that matters is hiding your crime and moving rapidly away from it. And many psychopaths are exceedingly clever at escape.
So pretty soon the abject humiliation at the end of the University of Bath debacle just disappeared. Like a magician stuffing a rabbit back into a hat and catching a bus or a ride on a gypsy’s cart to the next village. All in a day’s work for a madman with a halfway decent sales pitch. Before you knew it, I was courting the babes at the Ring-o-Bells and tipping back the flagons of Natch like nothing ever happened.
The girl who introduced me to The Ringer was not Jackie, but rather a woman named Celia Gray whom I had met at the Salamander. At the time I found her, she had a boyfriend, who was a truly nice guy. His name was Slavic Avramenko. I took Celia away from him, but he was an amazingly good sport about it. (We had an arm-wrestling tussle over it, but not an actual fight. Which was OK with me; he was a strong kid. His power mixed in with ‘justifiable’ rage might have landed me in a coma.) When I met Celia, she reminded me of Julie Christie, the famous actress. I was wearing my Newcastle Brown T-shirt that night; for some reason I remember that. She had a little boy named Julian, a proper little mamma’s boy, but who could blame him? There was no Dad around. (I never liked children, especially babies. Really detested screaming babies. I have mellowed a lot over the years in this respect, but back then I couldn’t stand to be around them. I used to imagine tossing a bunch of them out the window. Or enjoying games of bayonet volleyball. Terrible way to feel, awful thing to say.)
I mention Celia because I learned an amazing lesson from her which she had no conscious awareness of teaching me. After some months, I started to get tired of her. It’s always the way, isn’t it? You meet someone, fall in love, etc., and at first they can do no wrong. Then, when the fucking starts to get routine, you slowly begin find fault with them. All of a sudden they are not perfect any more, and it amazes you that you could not detect those obvious flaws earlier.
My theory is this: rarely do we ever really and truly love another person. The thing we ‘love’ is what they cause us to feel and experience for ourselves: pleasure, ecstasy, bliss, etc. So what we really love is not them but the feeling we get from them.
Ok, maybe that is taking it too far, maybe it isn’t always just one-way traffic, I am positive that people really and truly grow to love each other, but perhaps even this has something to do with the markers of time, and our increasing awareness of our own mortality. The person who has stayed with us the longest, and of course this is usually the husband or wife, has always been part of the landscape as we move through life slowly toward death. As Gabriel says to Bathsheba in Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd when finally it is understood that they will be together: “When I turn round, there you will be. And when you turn round, there I will be.”
Yes, there must surely be a kind of sporting affection for the other person sharing the sheets and the chores and, yes, the Valentines, but it also involves the creation of an oak tree in your mind that will always be there, even as you desperately, fecklessly, illogically hope that YOU will always be there too. He or She is in effect the insurance policy you take out on your life, not to be redeemed in coins, but in the assurance that all is well. That all is…still well. The continuing presence of the loved one is in fact a confirmation of your own precarious but continuing existence.
It’s part of why people drink merry toasts to one another on New Year’s Eve as the clock strikes 12.00. They are toasting each other, and they are also saying, “Look at me ! Another year, and I am still alive !” They speak fondly of the recently departed: “Bit of a wanker, but all in all a lovely bloke, wasn’t he?” And your mate says “I’ll drink to t-h-a-t !!” — and there you are, Waiting for Godot, but figuring What the Fuck, I am STILL HERE. He isn’t.
Some people become mature and wise up: they learn to accept that passion and suspense and melodrama tend to disappear from relationships and, usually after a crisis or two of some sort, the enduring couple simply decide to forgive each other for being less than the ‘ideal’. The wisest of all come to realize that there is no ideal — that it is all billboard bullshit and that, anyway, most of the models smiling breathlessly down at you from the sides of buildings, metro walls, and passing buses don’t look like that in real life. Good, but not like that. It’s more to do with the camera than the girl, so go fuck the photographer. Those faces are secretly laughing at you as they gaze seductively downwards and outwards with all the cynical merriment that only some entity which does not exist, a ghost maybe, or maybe some kind of optical illusion carried off in the spirit of ‘fake news’ might be capable of. They make the expressions on the faces of the girls who jack you off in the massage parlor of ‘happy endings’ look as timeless and infinitely elusive as The Mona Lisa and as sincere as Mother Theresa. It’s all a fantasy. They are gazing beyond you, off into sunsets which are not there either, which are as false as those on the old Hollywood movie sets. Life and Death in a cardboard box, that’s what it is.
And no doubt, if you are seeing cracks in the great sweeping masterpiece canvas that was your wife as you found her when she was but a winsome lassie, you can bet that you are probably sprouting a few ruptures yourself. It’s like the guy who goes to a high school reunion 40 years after he graduated (I have never felt a strong enough compulsion to attend one) and is stunned to see how much everyone else has aged, while he, magically, has remained the same bronco-busting bundle of brawling, bollocks-bulging brawn he always was. Those who still recognize him wince and stagger over to say a sympathetic hello, while his other former classmates scratch their chins and proffer to each other, “Who in the hell is that old fart over there? Don’t remember him….”
In other people we see our own diseases, but remain in denial. Like the guy at AA who told his sponsor that there was this dude, a proper tosser, at the 12-step meetings whom he really hated, but he didn’t know why. So the sponsor said to make a list of all the things about this cadge that pissed him off. He dutifully followed directions and when he met with the sponsor again, the sponsor asked him to read the list of ‘complaints’. Afterwards he said, “OK, now who does that remind you of?” The guy thought for a while and then the lights came on. He lost a shade of color in his face and announced reluctantly but honestly: “He reminds me of myself. Yes…he reminds me of my Fucking Self.”
So maybe it’s a general truth that even the people we ‘hate’ the most are the ones who remind us most of ourselves, or at least our ‘shadow-selves’? In that case, it’s still All About Us. We don’t know this other person and we cannot walk in his shoes. But we catch glimpses of ourselves in him/her which lock us more and more into our self-hating, self adulating, self-promoting, self-worshiping, mirror-resembling nightmare. Other people are merely caricatures and mannequins brought to life to dance about before our eyes and enact the morality plays that define us, wavering like unsteady lights in our mist and then leaving like dream people. From them we awaken on the most sullen cots imaginable in the worst places of radical twistedness.
So, isn’t it strange how, once the ‘honeymoon’ is over in love affairs and even marriages, little else remains? To me it suggests that not only do we crave the ‘high’, the roller coaster ride, the orgasmic collapse into the little fleeting death— but that an ineradicable narcissism is hard-wired in us, there from the start, which precludes any possibility of genuine empathy — and when the artificial high of the honeymoon — which technically involves another person — is emotionally over, then we are as alone as if we had been masturbating while watching porn films and drowning ourselves in a bottle of whiskey while sitting in a broken down trailer in a broken down trailer park next to a broken down highway leading to a broken down town with a broken down ATM machine.
But soon we want to experience that high all over again, so out we go a’hunting and a’prowling.
I know now that this is what was happening with my vision of Celia. I had used her up, made my assessment, and decided I didn’t want to be with her over the long haul. Or even the short haul, as it were, because I had already found a new screw. Celia had done nothing wrong. I knew that then, and I know it now, and even though I am sure that Celia, if she is still alive this evening, has forgotten about me and would remember only if prompted: the American guy from the Salamander — yeah, then she would recall — my guess would be that I stopped being an item of importance in her recollections decades ago. Probably she would just laugh at my memory and say, “Yes, that crazy guy.” But tonight it’s my turn to feel the sorrow of my wickedness and immaturity.
That being said, it was up to me to fabricate something in order to ease out of the relationship, but I couldn’t think of anything. So anyway, a new pub had just opened in a big garden alongside the River Avon, and this Grand Opening had been set for a bright summer’s Saturday afternoon. She and I were there, Celia in a lovely spring-weather dress and me in my usual shit-house clobber –maybe at least clean jeans and some tight-fitting top designed to show off my physique, which I have always been proud of. Not the underlying dick especially, but the outer shell of muscles yes.
With me — if you weren’t prepared to spend five years trying to figure me out while always saving up a little bail money on the side in case it was needed, and maybe the price of an attorney — the first twenty minutes were the best of me you were ever going to get. I was always ‘first’: Best FIRST impression and FIRST guy out of the burning building to get the hell away from a fire I myself had probably set. Me, Me, Me.
So a big crowd gathered there on the weir. Standing room only, and we had been lucky to find a table. I bought us a round and sat back. Enjoying the heated and frisky activity. Checking out the ‘fresh crumpet’ (loose women) situation. They milled, they came and they went. Shakespeare’s river purred softly at our side.
Finally, Celia said she had to visit the loo. (The toilet). And away she went. I kept sipping my bevy and gazing about. While Celia was having a slash, it was Free Visual Lunch for me, Eye Candy Fucktricity. It went on for a while. Finally, my eyes feasted on a really great looking woman walking from a distance. Lovely as springtime itself and dressed for the season, Blond and slender, the face still a bit out of range but moving into my ken. The way she walked set her apart from the rest of the tribe, and I was enthralled. Her breasts were rich and proud, bobbing gently like a nest of restless birds. I could see that. Took a deep pull on my cider. GOD DAMN this woman looked good. And coming closer, closer, as if …as if she were walking straight toward me !!
And God damn it, SHE WAS!!!!
And that’s when reality bit. I realized, to my utter embarrassment and chagrin, that this magical mystery girl, obviously the solution to All My Problems, was in fact…Celia. My dick went immediately soft. It was ONLY Celia. Welcome back Celia. Nice to see ya. Sit down and finish your drink because I am about to have another one.
She never knew. And on the day, I learned nothing and I learned something, if that is not too much of a contradiction in terms. I changed nothing. It did not make me appreciate her more. It just pissed me off.
But I am still shivering today a little bit. So I learned something.
That happened in 1972. Now in 2019, I remember and acknowledge, though it certainly won’t do her any good, what a prat I was. Celia, I am sorry. But it only goes to prove my point: I was looking for a ‘fix’. The woman walking toward me looked like a new shot at life. Illusion. Fantasy. It was the same poor Celia who had once upon a time not long ago herself been the architect of my fantasy. My New Injection. My new shot at Happiness. Now she had become just… Celia.
For a moment she had raised my hopes and dreams by changing into a mermaid suggestive of something rich and strange. Only to turn out to be JUST Celia.
I had no more idea of how to love the real humanity quivering behind that image I had clung to for a while than I would have known how to love a wasp or a church mouse or the chimney on the roof of a house. Or a hitchhiker on the highway. I knew only how to love myself. That’s what I learned that day. That I was a creature ruled only by vanity.
I was an abusing, abusive devil. She never ever knew, nor did I at the time, that our fates were sealed, our relations broken. I could fuck the image but I was scared to death of confronting the woman, the human being who had extended herself to be with me.
As she walked toward me, seeing me and smiling, she didn’t know that she was but a lamb heading for the slaughter.
She thought it was a bright summer’s day, and she was returning to drink wine and be with her man. That’s what she thought, her eyes all a dazzle with coquettish and womanly delight as the sun was shining.