Muck in the pipes

Rather than go to rehearsal today I watched a plumber fix my loo. I can’t pretend it was the most fun I’ve ever had. But at least the loo now works. I used the same guy that fixed my boiler. He’s probably sneaking into my flat at night to sabotage things so I have to pay him to mend them. But he’s got a nice smile. And I haven’t caught him yet.


There was a box in the cupboard where the stopcocks are. I had to take it out for him. I opened it to assess the contents, out of curiosity. Oh Pandora. Right at the top was a little bag full of photos. At some point, years ago, I must have filled that bag and put it in an oubliette. It was photos of me having OH SO MUCH FUN with a succession of beautiful girlfriends. Oh how we are laughing in the sun playing on beaches and holding hands. I spent a while nostalgically shuffling through these relics of what I now affectionately refer to as the “girlfriends era.” Memory compartmentalises. I had boxed them up, but there they were waiting. I had forgotten those days in Brighton or Europe or Reading or ! with sunsets and guitars, running in woods, visiting new places, eating tasty food in nature, being half of a whole, being in love.

Today is a day of reflection for me generally. It’s the deathiversary. I’m always very aware of its approach. It leaves me a little weird. But today was unexpected. I found myself thinking more of old loves and missed opportunities than of the loss of the unconditional. And mostly it was pleasant. Just remembering these achingly beautiful hearts who have crossed my life as I’ve been rolling along. They’re all – seemingly – happy, from what I can glean from friends (tailored) and Facebook (lies). One of them married a doctor. One of them is a doctor. One of them went to the doctor. One of them pays for all of our doctors with her tax. One is probably doctoring her tax. And with every single one of them I was punching above my weight. Wow. I set the bar super high. Good work Al you charming bastard. Now how come you’ve left it so long this time?

I did just have one of those “my friend fancies you” conversations today. My initial reaction was a cold hard shot of liquid nitrogen in my veins. “Fuck that,” said all of my instincts. The hairs on the back of my neck shot up. But then, maybe it’s time for another good kicking. You never know, I might like it. It might be lovely. She’ll eat my liver raw.

Meanwhile I’m coming into people’s homes and bringing all my mystic stuff. I was invited to dinner by three Buddhists who I met in a caravan, which sounds like a pretty standard sentence for 1966. They are becoming friends. “Shall I bring anything?” I asked, thinking wine/pudding.”Your cards,” they told me. I see. That’s what they brought me round for. And it was a lovely evening. They’re a community of old friends looking after each other on this strange journey. I did some readings on satin and smudged around some Palo Santo and chanted with them a while. Helping them feel better helped me feel better.

I guess that’s what life comes down to. We seek to make ourselves feel better and in so doing we try to make other people feel better too. But we’re all scrabbling around in the dark and we know less about what we want than we can intuit about what others want. Sometimes we find an answer and stick with it in the hopes it’ll be mutually fulfilling. Sometimes we run from what’s best for us. But we’ve only been us for a limited time. And even our self identity is slippery. How can we work out what we actually want? By work, by chance and by time, I guess.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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