Tokyo-Notes: How to survive in a strange place with stranger people.

How to survive in a strange place with stranger people.

The Pure Men of old acted without calculation, not seeking to secure results. They laid no plans. Therefore, failing, they had no cause for regret; succeeding, no cause for congratulations. And thus they could scale great heights without fear…They did not know what it was to love life and hate death. They did not rejoice in birth, nor strive to put off dissolution. Quickly come, and quickly go – Chuang Tzu

Fun and locusts

When I got home I couldn’t be happier at not having anything to do. I reached for my faithful deck of cards and closed my eyes and slowly and carefully turning over the top card from the pile I held in front of my closed eyes.
“Five of….” I trailed off letting the image appear clearly in my mind; I could see the number on the card but the colour and suit were indistinct.
“Five of…..” I repeated as if to give myself a mental run up, an élan that would bring the energy needed to be the magician I hoped I was.
“Five of…..it’s red, red, five of…” I stopped, then suddenly as if touched by a sudden revelation it all became clear and I shouted “HEARTS!’
When I opened his eyes I saw a black joker.
“No fair!” I shouted petulantly, “How was I supposed to expect a joker?”
“Still,” I thought, commiserating myself, “I suppose that if I’d opened my mind to the possibility of there being a joker in the pack I would have seen it. Maybe I should take the jokers out, no I’ll leave them alone I don’t want to manipulate chance too much.”
So I closed my eyes again and split the pack roughly in half and turned over the top most card from the bottom deck. The card shone out red and white in my hand but my eyes were closed to this, instead I searched with my mind to find the identity of what lay in my hand. In my mind I saw a joker, which I quickly dismissed as being an echo or retinal afterburn of the previous card, then I began to search in earnest, I ran through the cards in my head from ace through to king until one of them stuck in my mind with a peculiar pertinence. It wasn’t that easy and I blamed my previous failure on that sneaky joker. “Hmm” I thought, then suddenly a colour flashed in my mind, and I saw my hand holding a red card. “It’s red” I said blindly to the card as if challenging it to naysay me. I visualized my hand holding the red card, I waggled my pinkie and the vision in my head waggled its pinkie at the same time, then suddenly I shouted with certainty:
“A king!” I opened my eyes and saw a red card in my hand, but not a king, it was the red joker.
“What!” I shouted dismayed, “You’re taking the piss aren’t you?’ but then my anger subsided into the contented smile and a knowing look of a Buddha, “Ahhh! I get it!” I said, but I didn’t really.

I sat up on the tatami floor with my legs folded under myself and stretched out my mind to reach into the infinite confines of the universe, I looked out through gassy nebulae and saw stars being born in a white hot womb, I saw a galaxy of stars and counted them all in a second, choosing a pleasantly glowing orange sun I came closer to its orb and saw before me a white planet shining against the blackness of space like a pearl against a black velvet dress. This vision pleased and intrigued me so I hovered over it for a moment dazzled by the pure milky whiteness of this strange world, until my mind abandoned the unknown reaches of the cosmos and contemplated instead the black velvet dress which by now contained a pair of milky white breasts, it was only a few seconds before I started to have distracting thoughts of a not particularly transcendent nature.

Then I heard sounds rise up from downstairs, it sounded like laughter, as if they knew what I was thinking. The Filipinos are cackling and nagging at poor Ken.
Poor Ken, I thought, he lets himself be bulldozed into going to church by the clucking Filipino women. Poor boy, well not a boy he’s thirty four years old but to look at him you’d think a boy. He says of himself that he has to grow up but I think becoming a church Christian is hardly the way it’s done, specially considering he’s Japanese and has got Buddha action. The clucking Filipino ladies, for whom I feel a wisp of compassion at their having left behind their children and husbands to come and live and work in Japan; babysitting and mothering the rich kids in the Roppongi Hills designer sky-scrapers, while their own kids do without for the sake of a monthly credit transfer, cluck and chirp triumphantly about how Ken came to their church and stayed the whole day even though he didn’t understand a thing, and poor Ken, the vision of bewildered emasculated Japanese youth growing up, nods sheepishly as if he has no more control over his fate than a crucified Christ.

Poor baby Ken, like a little baby he’s just be born. Reborn a Christian that is. Now he goes to the Filipino church with his sisters in Christ, the economic immigrants. Still rich Japanese businessmen need over excited voodoo Christian Filipinos to look after their children… for some reason. The fools that they are to borrow our cast off faith. But baby Ken, has given in exchange the wise tolerance of his native animist faith and his profound Buddhism for what? For a pain and shame pseudo religion. And his religion of hip hop and back beats, no more ska, no more dancing, no more parties. Why? The greatest mystery resides in the human heart.

Meanwhile the pitch of the Filipino’s conversation has reached a new high, the witchy cackle of their laughter sweeps through the house like a fire, licking at every corner and tarnishing everything. I know what they’re doing even if they themselves don’t, as sure as cats and dogs, they’re marking their territory, they’re making all the noise they can to show who the boss is. To show how at ease they are in their environment and to show how little consideration they really have for the people who aren’t in their group, that’s what riles me, I know that every raised voice and scream of laughter is a challenge unanswered. God knows what the Japanese girl must think, she’s probably terrified poor thing, me I don’t mind, not so much, I’ve seen and heard much worse, but the poor sweet Japanese girl, the one who covers her mouth when she giggles, must be cowering in a state of profound culture shock at these shrieking sirens of merriment. I half feel I should fight her corner for her, I have half a mind to go downstairs and scatter those featherbrained domestic immigrants to the four corners of this mansion, but no, I can’t afford to make any enemies yet, not yet at least.

Poor Ken, ready to abandon common sense and the great wisdom of the east to join the all singing all shrieking hysterical army of Christ. Poor boy, he must be stopped, I must save him, I can’t let the Filipinos win, I can’t sit by and do nothing, to see this boy Ken, the Ska selector hisself, become a fuckin’ happy clappy Christian, no never! it shall not be. Get back your ball boy and do not forget who you are, worship a foreign God, how can you think such a thing!? Maybe I should try to make some introductions for him, reintegrate him into his own society perhaps. But then again who do I know? The Demon King? Hardly pleasant company.

A new friend

It was new year’s eve 2003 when I made a very interesting and very powerful new friend, God knows I needed an ally to combat the Demon King and his evil minions, not to mention the witches at home. I met him, well I think it’s a him, it’s hard to tell really, I met him at Shinjobi temple in Narita, just east of Tokyo.

Now, I walk quickly, I always have done, just like my father. He wasn’t a tall man but he could really move. My most salient memory of him from my childhood was his back marching along about 10 yards ahead of us, while my mother yelled after him:
“It’s not a race y’know.” That was my dad for you, whenever we went anywhere together he would always be just out of range of our family unit, like a scouting party, I wonder what all that was about, we were cramping his style? We would leave the house together, or just about, after a few false starts because my sister wanted to go to the toilet just as mother was locking the front door, or that dad can’t find his wallet, or that I couldn’t decide which of my Star Wars figures to take to the beach, eventually we would manage to leave the house and for a moment we were a family, my sister and I fighting, my father trying to negotiate a quick drink in the pub first, and then as we opened the gate and walked down the road, my father’s pace would fly from us like a bird released. And so I too walk fast, which is ok because I usually find myself on my own anyway, well sort of on my own, so I just get where I’m going quicker than most people. Actually thinking about it now I can only wonder about the look on his face, what was he hiding, boredom? Contempt? Some things are probably best left unknown and what is known is often best left alone.

So I was on my way to the temple, walking down charmingly huddled old wooden houses when suddenly a street light came on, a signal! The road slid down moving from side to side, a narrow road with old wooden shops on each side, I’m moving so fast I feel like a marble rolling down a gutter, why do people walk so slowly, I get to the bottom and roll into the temple, through the gateway with the polite crowd of boy faced Japanese cops, bound up the old stone steps and pass through the stone gate with a huge red Japanese lantern.

I pottered around the wooded precincts of the temple for a while, trying to avoid foreigners and their contaminating loudness until the time came when just before midnight they allowed a few people to enter the inner sanctum of the temple. Inside the temple the priest is dressed in purple, reads out an exhaustive list of Japanese towns and districts from a pile of scrolls, he blesses the places with a waft of fire. . And then hands the read scroll to an aide who puts it aside. Later the priest starts chanting and the music and magic begins, the music is gentle and soothing and the temple becomes a timeless void like the very first garden of the angels, then suddenly the infinite moment of nothing is shattered and discord, fear and anger shake the foundations of the world, it feels as if the place will fall down, the walls shake, suddenly a demon appears and the priests are seen asking his blessing, the people give the priests objects: bags, wallets necklaces which the priests shows the demon who, tamed by the priests, promises not to hurt the people who own these things.
The demon is terrible, a horror to behold, a blue black body burnt like a cinder and three faces each with two pairs of eyes, he is strong and tall, in his soul there is but one thought: rage. I bow down low to him and he sees in my mind the fear and respect I have for him, and so, he becomes my ally, he joins me or I join him I’m not sure which but now I am strong is all I know. Because I move with an invisible shadow close by. He is immensely powerful and capable of great mischief but he also has great knowledge, tolerance and a sense of humour. All in all he’s a good mate.

Now I can see the truth, I see that people have become mushrooms, they grow individually tall and straight in the sunlight and they have their fresh bloom of youth, they age then rot and die. They stand side by side, together but apart, islands of individuality, but underground where eyes do not see, the truth can be seen that they are all one, that they share a common energy, what feeds them feeds all and when they die they return to this pool where all are one.
This at least was my vision in the temple. Calling man a mushroom may seem a little trite but I find that nature’s voice echoes in the unlikeliest of places.

So the fire god became my friend, a strange kind of friend for a boy to have but no stranger than some of the friends I used to have. Boy when I think of how they used to treat me, there was Stew who would never let me use his mobile phone so I always had to dash off to find a call box when I was with him, what an asshole! Even if the damn phone was on the table in the pub and I needed to make a call, “No!” he’d say, “I don’t have much call-time left, there’s a call box just up the road.” Then there was Chris who was a good lad but wherever we went he would always seem to get me involved in a fight, he didn’t do this to his other friends, only me. I counted myself lucky to have at last a friend of some substance and integrity.
The good thing about having a fire god as a friend is that one can make substantial savings in ones domestic heating budget, however the peace of mind provided by this is somewhat offset by the constant fear that at any moment the house could burn down to the ground as a result of a thoughtless word to kindle the wrath of the fire god. But so far so good, he does have bad days though, I see him fume sometimes and I get out of the flat and quick, he usually goes out and burns down a village in India or a forest in North America until he feels a little calmer and our life returns to normal without the threat of a blazing inferno.
Since meeting the fire god, I have met, as so often happens, with new friends, all his friends too are in turn my friends now.

These days, they come and go and demand my attention but I can only do so much for them, its difficult for them to understand my position and in a way it’s difficult for me to understand theirs. I try my best though but sometimes, well it’s just not enough, take for example the Christians downstairs, well they don’t like my new friends at all, they stop their conversations and leave the room whenever I appear now.

The second best friend

I returned to Tokyo on the all night train and decided to get my head down and rest because I was meeting a friend of mine later that new year’s day. I awoke at some hour or other and went out to meet my friend by the Meji Jingume shrine.
I rushed down Ayoma Dori like an Olympic walker in the middle of a tornado, people felt and heard me and my fire demon coming before they saw us, despite the buzz of the crowds going to or returning from the Meji shrine for their new year visits, my headphones could be heard howling out the beautiful fury of Noir Desir; I ducked and weaved, went from one side of the pavement to the other, cutting across in front of and behind people, just as long as I didn’t have to stop, the fire demon hated being slowed down, so do I for that matter.

I looked ahead of me and sighed, there was a huge crowd stoppering the pavement ahead, I walked on, stubbornly refusing to alter my pace, my friend hot on my heels, until, insufferably we were walking at normal speed.

Normally I could only do this when high, stroll merrily through life drinking in every little insignificant detail in a bliss of detachment, but I wasn’t high and hadn’t been for ages and this was Tokyo and there was absolutely no chance of anything to smoke not now not ever. So I couldn’t cope with this slow pace. My legs tangled under me and my feet yearning to be free to stomp and stretch, waggled impatiently, until I noticed that the road didn’t have too many cars on it so I dived out of the congested pedestrian walkway and dived into the buzz and energy of the avenue. I wasn’t alone in doing this it seemed, there were more people like me in Tokyo I noticed with relief. All marching in the fast lane of life, all busy busy busy filling their lives with high risk and high gain.
When I arrived outside Harajuku station outside the underground I couldn’t see Sanae, in fact I was early so I pottered about the fabulously crowded Takeshita dori, the only traffic being other pedestrians. There were the usual gangs of girls eating ice-cream crepes and the strange clothes shops with Anglo-Saxon pretensions called ‘Nudy Boy’and a stranger clothes shop called, inexplicably, ‘Store my Ducks!’ where and why are the immediate questions that reel through my confused brain, particularly after having just walked past a coffee and donut diner where the ‘no smorking’ signs kindly inform the smorking part of the Tokyo population, that smorking, unfortunately is not allowed.

I returned to Harajuku station despite the best efforts of the entire population of that city and finally caught a glimpse of her brown leather jacket. I analysed her for a while.
“God she’s quite pretty really,” I thought to myself with pleasure, it had troubled me, the idea that I didn’t find her all that attractive because in a way I wanted to feel something for her, it made life so much more enjoyable to want somebody. Then she noticed me and I bounded over to her smiling.
“Howzitgoing?’ I asked.
“Oh okay!” she smiled, then looking around at a fair portion of the three million Japanese expected at Meji Shrine in the first three days of the year, she added:
“I haven’t left the house for three days and now I walk into all this.”
“Have you been to the shrine yet?” I asked.
“No not yet, maybe we could go now.”
We entered the shrine enclosure walking away from the bustling city of Tokyo and seemingly into the heart of old Edo as we entered the park the cars and neon were swiftly replaced by trees and darkness, I saw my Demon glow in the darkness, but fortunately Sanae didn’t notice him. The temperature dropped and the air became heavy with moisture as we came upon the shrine. A huge drum beating inside the shrine seemed to signal our arrival. Sanae prayed for her family and cast her offering into the pool of coins in front of the shrine. I thought it funny how the priests in Japan had convinced people over the years that throwing money at the temple and shrines would bring them good luck. I thought back to the striking of the temple bells as the new year arrived and the shrieks and clinks outside the temple and the desperate hoards of people throwing money at the temple as fast as they were able, the clatter or coins against the glass rampart of the temple east face, while inside the priests turn a blind eye to the pouring in of their revenues and continue officiating, still it’s always worth paying for a good show.

We walked on together in a silence punctuated with pseudo intellectualism, I dislike being intellectual, or pretending to be or whatever it was I was doing when I said something like :
“You know all religions are actually compounds of primitive thought pagan science and mangled history.” Sanae too, I think, hated having to say things like:
“Sometimes when I look at the stars I want to cry.”

It was just that I guess we were so tense and knew each other so little that we lapsed into what we considered a fitting pose, a little aloof but showing at the same time our qualities and vaunting our merits. As a result I was uncharacteristically wise and serious and Sanae was uncharacteristically emotional. Still we walked on together, neither too sure about what the other person wanted from them or indeed entirely certain about what we ourselves wanted from each other, until we came to the wish board, you could buy a piece of decorated cedar wood from the Buddhist charm shop, which you then write your hopes and wishes for the new year on.
“There’s a comedian,” Sanae began, looking over the kanji covered rectangles of wood, “who goes around the shrines and temples looking for the funniest things people wish for. A child wished for his big brother to be eaten by a dragon and someone else wished for a tempura shop to be opened in their neighbourhood.”
I smiled and looking over the kanji symbols which were indecipherable to is eyes I asked her what most people seem to wish for.
“Mostly for success in university exams.” she answered.
“Oh! Did you ever wish for that?” I asked.
“While I was at school that was all I ever wished for,” she answered as if now she knew much better, still perhaps her prayers had paid off.
“What did you wish for just now?” I asked.
“Oh the usual, the health of my family and world peace.”

It seemed to me that the Japanese take peace very seriously, for them the wish for peace is a central tenant of their culture, not just the catch-phrase of the week from the odd pop singers mouth. It was everywhere. Whenever I saw the teenage girls photographing each other with their mobile phones they would always have their fingers showing a V peace sign. And every year almost everyone wishes for the ‘usual’ world peace.
We walked away to the exit of the shrine, flanking each side of the wide pathway was a long wooden frame with several horizontal rungs along its height and tied on to these rungs were small knotted pieces of paper.

They walked away from the candles and folded pieces of paper.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“When you go to the oracle at the temple for your fortune and if its bad luck then you can leave the paper here on this wooden, what is it in English?, this wooden thing..”
“I guess it’s a sort of frame.”
“Frame, yes, you can leave the bad luck on the wooden frame.”
“Wow that’s cool.” I looked at the hundreds and hundreds off small tattered folded knotted pieces of bad luck and ill portent, I shuddered as I seemed to feel the negativity and unluckiness that lay flapping in the breeze tied to this large wooden frame, it seemed I could feel the bad luck, the negative energy that buzzed around here like a karmic rubbish dump.
“It means you can’t lose really whatever happens, if you go to the oracle and get good luck that’s fine, if it’s bad luck then you can just leave it here and get on with your life.”
“It’s all about belief really isn’t it? The power of belief. Like those charms they sell, they’re just pieces of paper with some indecipherable Chinese writing on, but as soon as you start to believe they have some special quality, they become magic and powerful objects, hey and maybe they really work. I mean, I have a charm, I picked it up in Turkey.” I took out my key ring with the Bulcuk Nazaar looking straight out at us.
“I believe in it, it’s supposed to protect you from the evil eye, there’s no reason for me to believe in it, it’s just metal and plastic, but on the other hand if a nation of Turks can carry these around like holy objects who am I to doubt them? They have them everywhere, in homes, in taxis on people’s wrists, there’s even a brand of meat products that uses it as their logo. Turks are smart people too, if its good enough for them its good enough for me. We in the west made the mistake of putting all our spirituality in one basket, that is Christianity, and now that we’ve thrown away Christianity, so we’ve lost everything else. That’s what the witch-hunts of the middle ages were all about, controlling spirituality and putting it all under one roof, the only problem is that nowadays we’ve got nothing left and are faced with a choice between the insular dogma of science or the half mad fantasy world of paganism, neither of which are particularly appealing, most people aren’t smart enough to get a real handle on what science is really about so the scientists just bluff it out. That’s why the smart money in the west is turning to eastern thought, that’s why it’s so fashionable at the moment.”
“Really?” She asked, surprised, “Fashionable? We see the west as fashionable and having all the answers.”
“Every week almost there’s some new eastern lifestyle technique which becomes fashionable, whether it’s Feng Shui, Tai Chi, acupressure or bonsai trees. The day the west has assimilated the wisdom of the east is the day when humanity can began to make some real progress as one race, not in competition with each other but working to our mutual benefit.”
“Do you think that will happen?”
“It already is happening, it started with Herman Hesse and the hippies, it’s only a matter of time before the old generation of hate mongers, brought up on competition economics and Darwinist ethics is gone and a smarter brighter generation with different answers will appear and become part of the system, its inevitable, the challenge I suppose is if this can happen before we manage to destroy the world. The 60’s generation are approaching their 60’s now, they did their best to change things, but for them rock `n roll and peace and love was still thought of as a transgression, for their sons and daughters it’s just common sense.”
“I really hope you’re right.”
Our talk had brought us out of the brightly lit and animated shrine area and left us peering into the darkness and silence of the park.
“I walked to work today without stopping once, it’s weird.” I said, hoping she might understand some of my strange metaphysical quandries.
“Why?”
“Well it was weird, it’s like a fifteen minute walk, and there are three roads to cross to get there, but every time I came to a road the little green man came on.”
“Oh.”
“Isn’t that strange? I mean, I didn’t stop once just kept on marching, all the way to work.
Every time I came to the busy road, bing bing bing, just keep on going, didn’t stop once, it was weird.”
“Do you think it means something?”
“Yeah I have formulated a cursory hypothesis actually. It’s a bit weird too actually. Well since the little green man doesn’t decide to pop out depending on whether he likes the look of you, then it wasn’t my arriving at the road that made the green man come on, I think it’s an automatic system, the green man would have come on at that time regardless of my being there or not, so what’s the alternative?”
“er…”
“My theory is that my subconscious somehow knew about the frequency and timing of the little green man’s daily appearances, and made me leave the house at the right time to cross without any horrible waiting around.”
She paused.
“Shall we go in the park?” she asked.

It looked dark and damp and I had to wonder what she had in mind, but I felt comforted that she trusted me with her honour, in a dark and secluded spot such as the park. I suspected that she wasn’t the type of girl to carry a can of mace in her handbag.
I searched for an answer as to what my being taken off into the dark could mean, I soon found it when walking along together I noticed a couple on a bench a few yards ahead seeming to devour each other. Sanae looked at me, and I felt a little bashful. I was always so inept in circumstanced like these, I had many times let chances likes these slip by precisely because I doubted whether they were chances at all.

And so later we found themselves in my attic room in Hiro, peering at Jupiter and her moons though tripod mounted binoculars, she more than a little drunk from the home made plum wine she had stolen from her mother’s supply, she bent double in a deeply sensual manner and gasped with delight at her fist ever sight of Saturn’s rings. I again asked myself what it means when a woman lures a man into a darkened wood and when that same woman requests to go back to his place and even brings her own booze. I knew what my good friend Jodie would have made of it, by now he would probably be smoking the third post coital cigarette then kicking her out of bed, he could see him tut tutting and saw it through his eyes as “She’s drunk and in your bedroom and still you don’t make a move! Do you need subtitles?” But I didn’t make a move. That’s just the way I am, I could never have Jodie’s balls, he could never invite a couple of women over for a threesome and actually get a result, Jodie could, but then he had a way with ladies, he was also extremely proud of his massive cock, and probably couldn’t wait to get it out under the flimsiest flirtational pretext. I saw my own cock in less than glorious terms, it was nice enough but it was more of a burden to me than anything else, and sex itself was enormous fun of course, but it always seemed to me that there was something cheesy and tacky about it all. All that “Can I put it in your mouth? “Take me from behind!” and “Oooh yeah I’m coming!” It was even worse when you didn’t say anything though, that was really scary: mute sex, ooh he didn’t want to go there anymore, where the only sounds they made were the slurp slurp of wet and slippery things scrubbing against one another. Not even a 3 second orgasm warning, nothing! Just an excited squeal and then maybe a cup of tea.
And anyway, I kind of liked the long and laborious build up to the first kiss, then the first touch then the first fuck, that’s where the real fun was, not in the act itself but in the run-up to it: the chase. It has been known for me to take weeks to actually get up the balls to have sex with a girlfriend, what a strange boy I was back then. I tried to think why I should be so repressed, I thought back to how when my mother told me that I needn’t worry about my nana dying because she’ll always be there watching over me. For years afterwards, my pleasure in masturbation was ruined as I imagined the benign smiling ghost of my nana watching me as I furtively dropped my pants and shame facedly got busy knocking my poor dick about. Maybe that’s where it comes from? Maybe whenever I want to have sex I subconsciously imagine my dead nana in the room, no disrespect to the dead but that is quite a turn-off I think you’ll agree.

“Lets go to the park, I can’t really face any more crowds at the moment.”
We walked through the park silently until a bubble of conversation popped up.
“So where do you live?”
“Oh, I live at Shitamachi near Ginza.”
“Wow Ginza, it’s really expensive there how can you afford it?”
“Well actually it’s not my own place, I mean I have to share.”
“Oh that’s normal, I think most people have to share a house with other people.”
“Well actually, it’s not a house, I mean, I have to share a room.”
“You have to share a room?” I was surprised but tried to hide it, I thought it would be beastly to share a room but I tried to say it as if I was slightly jealous.
“Yeah,” She said weakly, “it’s only temporary, while I get a new place and settle in.”
“Sounds cool,” It sounded shit, “Who do you share with? Friends?”
“Well not exactly, I share with six women.”
“Six women!” I exclaimed astounded and this time failing to hide my shock and pity.
“Are they nice?”
“Well, they’re pretty strange actually. There’s one who’s always talking to herself, or her invisible enemy as we say it.”
“Oh!”
“She says stuff like ‘wicked! wicked! bad heart! bad heart!’, then there’s one woman, Sumire, who cries in her sleep.”
”Sounds like fun.””
”Well no not really.”
“Oh.” Sometimes I hate travelling, this was one of those times, I had scoured continents looking for someone who understood good old British irony, or at least the local equivalent, no luck in Japan ether it seemed.

So this was the beginning of a strange kind of romance with Sanae despite the innumerable cultural differences of my born being a boy and she a girl, the truth was that she was such an odd, fragile and ungainly creature that I immediately took a benevolent liking to her, being drawn as I always was, to the eccentric, unorthodox, and the clinically insane. It was only after sharing a kitchen with her as our tempers simmered boiled and bubbled over pasta pommodore, that I realised the truth of what a vicious and conceited creature she was and I finally and definitively decided that I couldn’t be without her.

My first suspicion of her true character was awakened when I brought her to my fabulous room. It was a pleasant enough attic room with its own spacious and sunny rooftop terrace, located in the quiet jasmine scented village of Hiro, and it was the most expensive residential area in the most expensive city in the world
“It’s a bit small,” she moaned. Then I heard her correct herself, “I mean, it’s very nice.”
What an odd ball, it’s like she couldn’t keep her thoughts in her head, most people learn at some point in childhood that some things you just don’t say even if it’s what you think, it’s called tact and is essential to healthy human relations, this poor strumpet had managed to miss that lesson, maybe she was off school on the day they taught tact, or maybe she was cursed or maybe someone had given her truth serum, or maybe she was just plain potty.

It got worse. She would invite herself to make dinner then she would moan about my pots and pans, my pair of wine glasses that really weren’t a pair, she would moan moan moan moan and moan some more, about anything she could find to moan about. She would moan when I wanted to open a bottle of wine while cooking, ‘Oh,’ she would sneer, “so you’re a ‘kitchen drinker!’. What the hell was a kitchen drinker!? I know what she was insinuating but it seemed that she had found it necessary to coin a whole new idiom to make her point. Now that’s what I call conceit!

She was wearing me out, I longed to escape from her wearying tedious and unhappy presence, so I did, with an excuse as flimsy as changing the toilet-roll upstairs I was gone! Alone clutching a toilet roll, I felt a shudder of bliss and almost immediately meditated myself into easy raptures. ‘Hang on a minute’ I thought to myself in the inky timelessness of trance, this feeling is just about worth having for putting up with feeling imprisoned with her for an hour or two to feel with doubled sweetness the freedom of freshness and solitude. I thought about the next gruelling couple of hours we would spend together and then she would be gone, boy would I be full of the bliss of her absence, I would jump clap and shriek laugh and just revel at being alone again.

And so I started seeing more of her, she unfortunately took this to mean that I was falling in love with her and so she increased her bullying and energy eating tactics in order to totally subjugate me, I had other ideas. I would sit with her as she envisioned me as her subject, while I relished every agony of her conceit and gracelessness, oh it would be worth it its weight in the soft yellow stuff when I was alone.

Happily ever after.

Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t be without her, she thought I loved her but it was myself who I loved more strongly than ever, for I am one of those people who gain strength from criticism, the type of character that if you called them an egoist their ego would just get bigger that you’re getting the recognition you deserve, if you call them pretentious then they’ll try to live up to the title and twat around even more, these people are the healthy minded people: totally indestructible. But I was like a jealous boyfriend writhing in misery and suspicion when they see their loved one chatting and smiling with a member of the opposite sex, then, when they recapture their beloved, they wrap their arms and legs in a trap of possession. So it was with me, but I was jealous for my own company, I hated seeing myself talking to other people when I could be talking to myself and making jokes for me to laugh at. And so naturally we eventually got married, we both remain madly in love, not with each other but strictly with ourselves, each of us serving only to reinforce in ourselves, an appreciation for our best qualities.

The end.

All persons depicted in this short story are slightly fictitious and any indication of mental illness is way off the mark.

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Insider information……. from the man they couldn't recruit….and a bit of messing about on the side.

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