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Saturday, February 25th

February 25, 2017

There would have been lots of things to write about yesterday morning, had bucket list thoughts not turned into a sort of short story. How did this happen? Mostly, I think it was the fact that I simply could not address the bucket list in the first person, knowing how unlikely it seems at this point in my life that I will achieve any of them. Finding the money for a year in France (the thing I’d most like to do) is hopelessly improbable. The Orient Express? I checked and, yes, it is still running. The train ride I’d want to do (London to Venice) is more than $3500 for a day and a half’s travel. Hmm. Don’t see that happening.

Anyway, anyway…

Yesterday morning, in the time it took me to have a shower, so much snow (which was not falling when I got in the shower) had fallen that the ground around the house was completely covered. I looked out the window in shock as the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen in my life poured out of the sky. As I sat down at the desk to start writing I wondered if this was going to stop me going to the gym. Yes, I now have new snow tires on the car, but this genuinely looked as if four feet of snow was on its way. Was I going to be stuck here again, dependent on friends to give me lifts? Bloody hell. At some point while I was writing my bucket list kinda short story the snow stopped. Then it rained for a bit. By the time I was ready to go to the gym, the sun was out and the snow was gone. Now that’s my kind of snow.

Here’s the thing I should have been writing about yesterday morning.

Thursday night I was lying in bed reading. The book was End of Watch by Stephen King, the final novel in the Mercedes trilogy. For anyone unfamiliar with the series, the bad guy gets his jollies by tipping vulnerable people over the edge into suicide. I was reading a section detailing at great length how he achieved this when my eyes wandered up to the beam between the livingroom and the bedroom and I found myself wondering if it would take my weight.

This is deeply disturbing on so many levels. The obvious one is that, if for only a moment, there was that thought: I could just put an end to it all. This is not a good thought. Then there was the beam. If you’ve been following the black dog diary for a while, you will know that eight years ago a very dear friend of mine committed suicide by hanging himself from a beam in his barn. He’d told me he’d checked to see if the beam would take his weight. When I visited him soon afterwards, he showed me the beam. He said it was a comfort to know, that was all. He was feeling good. Suicide wasn’t on his mind. Seven months later it was on his mind and the beam did take his weight.

The only time in my life I’ve ever for even a moment seriously considered killing myself was many years ago, a few months after my mother died. As I may have already written, I woke up one morning wondering if there were enough pills in the medicine cabinet to finish me off. Then I thought about the aftermath of killing myself. Poor me. I was so alone in the world that there would be no one kicking in the door after a day or two. No one would have any idea until the smell of my rotting corpse got so bad one of the neighbours would complain to the building manager who might come to have a look. By that time my cats, Clancy and Jenny, would have been reduced to eating me to stay alive. That thought was worse than the thought of carrying on. I never got as far as checking the medicine cabinet. (I doubt there were enough pills in there to do the job.)

Yes, the thought has flitted through my mind on more than one occasion since then. Three or four summers ago, before I finally realised I needed help, I was driving up a two lane highway en route to visit some friends. At one point there was a huge lorry coming down the other lane towards me. For a fraction of a second – a nanosecond – I did think: I could just change lanes at the last moment and put an end to it all. Then there was the moment last autumn, the moment when, in the middle of brushing my teeth, I suddenly found myself thinking: It wouldn’t matter if I killed myself, someone would step up and take over directing the panto, the show would go on. It was just a passing thought, with no method attached to it, but it was enough to get me back to the doc and back on meds.

The beam?????

No, I could not have written about this yesterday morning. It was too raw. The ghost of my friend was everywhere. Today he seems to have returned to that cosmic cocktail party. I pause to look over my shoulder at that beam, hoping it’s just gone back to being a beam. But there’s that thought: Would it take my weight? I bet it would.

If you’re reading this, in the words of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t panic.

I feel fine. In a little while I will get dressed, have breakfast, while listening to the recording of the play. Then I will head down to the recycling depot on the island with all my bottles and cans, then I will go to the gym. (Have I mentioned that I’ve lost some weight?) Then I will come home and settle down on the sofa with the new Lee Child, which arrived yesterday – my Valentine’s Day present to myself. This evening I will make Thai prawn curry for dinner and open a bottle of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc. Tonight I will go to bed with Jack Reacher, continuing my research into why this character, with his dubious hygiene, is so appealing to women. Tomorrow I will take my weekly morning off from writing an entry, instead reading the paper in bed. After that I will head out to my rehearsal. (As I may have already mentioned, we are now officially cooking with gas. Good thing as the show’s in two weeks.) I really do feel just fine.

Nevertheless, thank you very much, Stephen Bloody King.

  1. Irmani permalink

    That was the wrong book for you, sorry. Enjoy the Lee Child xx

  2. Well, the wrong moment for that particular book in any case. But, thanks to February being a short month, so the threepence ha’penny I have to live on doesn’t need to last as long, I felt able to splurge on some prawns (knowing exactly what I would do with them) and thanks to you I have a lovely bottle of plonk to swill this evening. 🙂

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