International Writers Magazine:
gets No Company
half past twelve at night, exactly thirty minutes into 2008 and
I am stood in my small back yard, looking up into the cold fresh
New Year rain, completely naked.
It seemed like a
good idea at the time, to leave the warmth of the front room and Jools
Holland and pad out into the yard to bring in the New Year and say goodbye
to the wretched 2007 in this different way. But then thats me
I suppose, I tend to do things a little differently, a little odd.
My name is Simon Taploe. Im hurtling towards the age of 30 and
already lamenting the loss of the number 2 at the front of my age. There
are times when I can pretty much lament my entire life too. You see;
nothing ever seems to go right for me. Im a walking disaster area.
As a result Ive decided to jot a few things down, help you see
why the last couple of years say led me up to the naked in the rain
I live in my Aunts house, a tiny terrace with 70's wallpaper.
This suits my mood. My Aunt is now living in Spain, so the house is
mine for as long as I want. I previously lived with my parents, my lovely
long suffering mum and my monosyllabic dad. Theyre ok really;
they had to be to put up with me moping around I suppose.
Im prone to depression, or melancholy as the Victorians rather
romantically put it. Believe me theres nothing romantic about
it I can tell you. Its like saying an STD is romantic! I
think I love you', but what am I so afraid of as the song says,
is - well, herpes, syphilis and gonorreah actually. As you may have
noticed there, Im also a bit of a smart Alec. Always one with
a wisecrack, no matter what circumstance. I have no excuse for it; its
like an illness. My one-liners once broke up a relationship I was having.
I was in a wine bar with friends; as we were often want to do on a Saturday
afternoon, when my girlfriend of the time expressed her love of musicals.
I said I wasnt keen. I really should have left it there. Instead
I said a love of musicals was pretty dire and that they werent
acceptable songs, and to prove a measure of their unacceptability I
suggested they were not the type of song one would want at ones
funeral. My girlfriend of the time, keen to debate now, said that she
would dearly love one played at her funeral, and cue one liner, I said
"In that case Ill play Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead"
Now I thought that was funny, she did not. Cue end of relationship.
I thought we shared a sense of humour too, well we had to, she didnt
I like to think that medics have yet to discover an ailment called comedy
tourettes; the incessant inability to not try and make a joke of something.
I have that I am sure. Its no wonder my mum is long suffering.
Aunties house therefore came at the right time.
What didnt come at the right time was another break up, my break
up from my longstanding girlfriend, Fran. The girl I met and thought
was my soul mate after the end of the witch relationship. Fran was lovely
and we were lovely. We were together for three years and would have
sworn it would last forever (trust me, it never does).
Im not saying it was fairytale. She had problems just as much
as I, she used to self-harm. A terrible thing to do that, its not like
biting your lip or giving yourself a Chinese burn, or doing that thing
at yourself in the mirror, you know that thing where you put your tongue
down into your chin and go "Derr! Spaz!" as if you were 14
again. Those are things I tend to do when annoyed with myself, no its
far worse, and often hurts the people around you more than it hurts
yourself. So the relationship fell apart, despite all our best efforts,
just as I became unemployed. You see, for a long time I was a wage slave,
a civil servant, though believe me I wasnt very civil about anything,
working with the great unwashed in a benefit office in a town that made
Basra look like a suitable 'Wish You Were Here' holiday spot. Anyway
after several years of working my bunions off I realised that it really
wasnt doing my health any good and not having any money worries
or debt I thought, with the help of Fran, I dont have to do this
shit. So I quit. A great move, for the blissful year of being with Fran,
then she left me, and I was alone and without a job. Bleak is not the
So now Im a writer. Its long been an ambition of mine. Ok
technically Im writing obits in the local paper two days a week
but its still writing, of sorts. Its a tough task. Actually no,
its two days a week its a piece of piss, especially when you consider
your last job saw a crack addicted state benefit claimant come at you
with a knife after what had been an already stressful day. But what
is tough about obits are trying to keep a straight face when the grieving
family sends in a poem to note the loss of their loved one. You just
know that Auntie Janice has been desperate to get a poem in print since
winning that parker pen at the schools writing comp all those
years ago. Heres one I had to place recently
"We sat by your hospital bed, to show you that we care
We went away to fetch a nurse, we came back and you werent there"
I mean, come on?! Its not just me is it? That is wrong.
Frans with another bloke now, bastard. How does that happen? I
personally think that after a split the ex has to leave the town, city,
region, country whatever. That way you dont have to know how well
they are progressing with their lives. I mean to say, its rubbing your
nose in it isnt it?
So largely as a part time writer for a local rag I dont have too
much to do. Most of my days are spent attempting to write the novel
that will define the 21st century, or mulling over philosophical theories.
No really, you can do a lot of that during the ad break for This
Morning. On occasions I go out and visit the library or buy a paper
or just generally mooch around. I read a lot of books, always have done.
Im quite clever did I mention that? I have 10 GCSEs, 4 A-levels
and a degree. Trust me kids, it doesnt get you anywhere, despite
what the teachers say. I mean look, the teachers are the ones with all
those qualifications in the first place, if having them means you get
on in life why stop at being a bloody teacher?
Too clever by half is what my mum says, she reckons that is why I get
so moody I think to much, put too much thought in things that dont
require it, may be shes right, and she certainly think it explains
my sarcasm. Anyway like I say I try and go out, but not much. Not much
confidence you see, prone to anxiety and black moods. Its a funny
thing, I have a lovely GP who is concerned for me and referred me to
see a guy who can help with my depression, a counsellor. So one day
I get an appointment to go and see him. Now when youre a bit low
in esteem you have to really gear yourself up to attend things, I mean
to say when the most important thing in your day is the decision to
have a rich tea or a digestive with your coffee and that days
episode of Doctors, you really have to build up to the bigger things
like going to get help to sort out your life.
So my appointment was for 1pm that afternoon. I hardly got a wink the
night before as the horrid Insomniac Jack came a calling, and then I
generally spent all morning pacing up and down the house trying to get
my brain in a positive order when suddenly the phone rings. Now, I hate
phones, always have done, and I cant stand using them. Anyway
finding courage, I answer it to be informed that the counsellor has
made a mistake and the appointment is actually 11, could I get down
Well now, I ask you, thats help indeed isnt it? I mean you
go to seek medical advice to help combat your fear of going out and
the nerves it brings on to be told that the build up you are doing for
1pm is a waste of time and you have to move now without build up! I
was even more of a nervous wreck!
Still I keep going and its helping. I suppose one of the reasons
I struggle outside in big areas full of people was because of the ex,
Fran. She would always look out for me but sometimes she couldnt
help putting me in places that were uncomfortable for me. For example,
Fran was a very slight girl. A bit on the boyish side, nothing wrong
with that, I like that type of gamine beauty. But its a bit of
an effort when youre out shopping with her and she has to go to
kids sections to get her clothing! So there I am dressed in my usual
long coat, looking naturally uncomfortable and well, yes I suppose from
a distance, if you werent aware of the situation yes, I probably
look a bit shifty, as I stand there, a grown man of 27, sweating near
the female changing rooms of the ages 13-15. You get some funny looks
I can tell you. And some of those security guards would do very well
at Guantanamo Bay Im sure. Still, I do miss her. I dont
miss the shopping though.
I wish I were more like my mate, Lennie. Now theres a confident
man. The swine. Very flash and with it he can be. Never really had trouble
getting girls, or getting them pregnant either. I swear that one day
an abortion clinic will be in his name, The Lenny Bee Ward, He deserves
a wing at least. We call him Lennie Bee for short, his surname is Polish
and far too difficult to pronounce. Polish American and Jewish extraction,
we often mock sing to him as The Beatles "Lennie Bee, Lennie Bee,
Lennie Bee, Oh Lennie Bee
speaking words of wisdom, Lennie Bee!"
The funny thing being he seldom speaks words of wisdom. We used to work
together at the job centre; hes the only chap I still knock around
with. Hes a good man, deep down. He cant understand my predicament
at all, though he does try and help, taking me out for drinks and pointing
out single girls, though frankly its more than a hindrance. You
see Lennie is ok if he gets a girl. The other week we were out and he
nips to the gents and I got talking to this girl by the bar and Lennie
comes back and spots how well Im doing and goes to chat to her
mate, you know, do the business, as he would say. Anyway this girls
mate susses Lennie out for what he is in two seconds flat and gives
him the cold shoulder, which I find refreshing and hilarious. I excuse
myself to Sarah, the girl I was talking to, getting on famous with you
might say, and go to the gents. Only to come back and find Sarah has
gone cold. I ask what is up, and she tells me that my friend Lennie
has informed her that I am gay. He does this act of charity towards
me, his best friend, because he wasnt getting any and so, therefore,
neither am I. Cheers Len.
Now I admit, Im not gay, but Im not exactly manual labourer
material either. Thats another thing kids; dont work with
books all day like the teachers say its liable to make you look
effeminate. Anyway, slightly pissed as I am, I try and prove Im
not gay and offer a kiss, but nothing doing, I move in for a kiss and
the next thing we know were on the pavement and likely as not
Who needs enemies eh?
So yeah, thats my life. Christmas was quiet, but then we all say
that dont we? Of course its quiet, youve eat too much,
drank too much and watched too much TV, who in their right mind is up
for a riot after all that? I just went round to my parents for dinner
and then have mooched around till New Years Eve, a time I hate.
Actually loathe New Year, was going to go to bed, but then I thought
whats the point, the fireworks would only wake me up and then
Id never get back to kip. So I locked myself in, took the phone
off the hook and watched the tele all night, consuming my way through
the houses alcohol, until finally, taking no more I decreed I
would see in the new year starkers in the garden.
Why? I still dont know, but come on; I bet its a damn sight
more original than how you spent it? Not bad for a sad act like me.
Oh well, heres to 2008!
© Mark Cunliffe Jan 2008
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.