Downs and Ups

Oh it’s you. Look at you, slinking in here, hoping to enjoy my words. You want to read them and then be on your merry way. I’m just a source of amusement to you, aren’t I? You take what you want and you leave… and I love you for it. I crave your attention, even if it’s meaningless. Let’s do it, just like we always do. I’ll type, you’ll read. Deal? Deal.

Here’s a thing that puzzles me: why do I always wake up suffering from all kinds of physical pains? I swear that I wake up aged 84 and gradually shed years as the morning goes on. My first thought on hearing the alarm is almost always, “Oh merciful Christ, end this suffering.” My shoulders ache as though I’ve been tossing cabers. My spine is a gnarled piece of rotting oak. My legs feel as though I’ve run a marathon. Every joint in my body is a rusty hinge. My digestive system is queasy and my head is a pressure cooker. This even happens if I’ve been teetotal the night before. I know it’s psychosomatic. The pains are tiny, it’s my perception that’s buggered. The problem is that life IS perception. I feel this, so it’s real. I drag myself out of bed straight away. I have to. If I lie still, I’ll either fall asleep or I’ll sink into such heavy depression that it will be impossible to get up at all.

Clean the teeth, empty the bladder and shower. These take a few years off. By the time I’m dressed, I’m around seventy. Eventually the first coffee will begin its work and I’ll be in my sixties and in pretty good shape. I think I hit my actual age by the time the school run is done. That’s when I get a few hours of being productive. I can work, I can do household stuff or I can write. The afternoons vary, sometimes I’m a human being, sometimes I’m a very ill badger that needs to crawl into its sett and curl up in some straw. I usually get just enough done for Mrs Viper to think it’s worth keeping me around.

This afternoon, there was no option for hiding myself away. It was my duty to help my mother (the Dowager Viper) to attend my daughter’s nativity play. My mother is… let’s be charitable and say ‘a character’. I shan’t elaborate at this stage, I don’t have the time or the necessary sedatives. I’m a man who struggles with leaving the house, let alone taking my mother to an event that involves ‘people’. I mean, YUCK. People. Wobbling about with their bodies and their voices and their faces. Unless they’re serving me in some practical way, people are obstacles. I see people as a particularly thick and unpleasant mist. They obscure my view of the real world. Just thinking about them makes me shudder. I don’t mean you, of course, reader. If I met you, I would be enchanted. You’re something special, aren’t you? Yes you are.

I suppose I should try and turn the experience into an entertaining anecdote, but I’m too fucking drained. What do you want from me?! Why are you so needy?! Watch the telly, like a normal person!

It’s a strain for me to appear normal. I’m not kidding. It’s a major fucking effort. Most of the time I’m one eye-blink away from shouting, “Out of my fucking way, each and every one of you useless sacks of flesh!” I sit through the nativity, smiling my “Isn’t this lovely?” smile. I just want the whole dull experience to be over. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is a delight. She speaks clearly, performs with charisma and makes the donkey the star of the show. The other kids, though. God. This verged on blasphemy. I’m sure their parents thought they were something special, but they were almost uniformly shit. “Aww, they’re only little,” is not bloody excuse. They can do better. There were one or two decent ones who got a genuine clap instead of a fake one. Most of you kids, though: I was NOT impressed, I was just pretending to be!

Anyway, precious memories, moments of magic, the delight of childhood innocence. In a hundred years, everyone in that room will be dead. That’s what I think the play was trying to convey to me.

Delivered mother back to the Dower House, then took my offspring back to school for her second performance. Quick dash home for a brief cuppa, then back to school to pick her up. She was full of an excitement that I don’t know if I ever feel. The wonderful thing about both my children is that they are so passionate about life that a tiny amount of it touches my cold old heart. Not even I can stand next to something burning so brightly without feeling a little a warmth and seeing a little sparkle. We danced all the way from the school to the car and I didn’t have to fake a smile.

The kids are in bed now. Mrs Viper is modelling outfits for me (she looks simply fabulous in everything… yes, she does read my blog… why do you ask?). I’ve treated myself to a cheeseboard. I’ve got gorgonzola, mature cheddar, immature plum chutney… oh just have a look…


That port glass is an antique, don’t you know? I shan’t tell you how I acquired it. You know too much already.

It’s not long until my bedtime. I feel, as I mostly do, that I have achieved nothing today. I say ‘today’, but I mean ‘ever’. Still, I might not be able to be happy myself, but I can facilitate happiness for others. My daughter loved being in her nativity and my mother loved watching it. The youngest child loved the play-doh set that we played with today. Mrs Viper loves Salted Caramel and I bought some at the shops today. I’m not as generous as Santa, but I’m not as mean as Satan. I’m somewhere in the middle. Probably. Look, I can’t think of anything profound, but I’m still typing. God knows what will come out. I’ll end up writing about my abusive childhood and spoiling the Christmassy vibe.

Keep smiling, readers, it’s the only way to keep them guessing.



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