22/01/17 My Grail Story: Is Life Really Over After 25?
My beloved magazine lay there yesterday on the sofa, open at a certain page and left forgotten. I was alone and needed something to read; I picked it up. Empire magazine's expose on the coming of Trainspotting 2 ('T2' for short). Being based in Edinburgh, I'm aware of the film's extra importance to this city. Having grown up from teenager to adult in the 1990s, I remember sitting in a bar in Rhyl with 'mates' (the kind who don't give a shit about you) listening to the throbbing beat of the Trainspotting soundtrack, the words 'Lager, lager . . .' pulsating. My shitty growing-up phase, a closet transsexual, repressed, ungainly, dressed in shitty man-clothing of lumberjack shirt and I don't remember what else. Going to bars, watching women as the alcohol hit me, thinking, if only, but never . . .
The interview in the magazine was about the sequel, made twenty years after the ground-breaking original about heroin addicts in Edinburgh. The screenwriter, John Hodge (I think that's his name), jokes it should be called Manhood, about growing old, getting to 50, the best times behind you. He said once you're past 25, your best times are behind you. This is a startling perspective for me, from 12-22, those were the worst times. Don't get me wrong, now isn't great. Now is a period of transition. I have put myself in this position, a time of re-training, professionally and personally. Each morning I dress as a woman, as Gina, and go out into the world. It's cold outside, and a long walk to an empty study room somewhere in the centre of Edinburgh. But it's bollocks to say life's over at 25. I guess it was for John Hodge. I wonder what was so good, though? Did he shag all the time? I didn't, maybe that's what did it for him. Was he successful, already a screenwriter? Good for him, his talent crystallized early, but it doesn't for everyone. Did he have a cool car and a lovely apartment, to go with the success? Did he fall in love with someone who loved him? Those experiences aren't exclusive to your early twenties.
Life, I've decided, is a quest for the Holy Grail. Some people find that Grail early. Others give up in the Wasteland. It's good to have a Grail to look for. The more beautiful, ethereal, elusive, the better. I feel this pain as I'm stumbling along in the Wasteland, an acute sense of worthlessness, of a writing talent that might just be a figment of my imagination. A transsexuality that leaves me a freak, rather than some kind of fulfilled, courageous figure. Yes, I'm aware of these possibilities. But I'm too busy stumbling on my quest to care too much at this stage. I gave up a previous life of constant repressed longing. I've entered the Wasteland from a comfortable palace of utter banality. That warm, tiled, fully-furnished apartment in Saudi Arabia, free with all utilities paid for. A job so easy, with a decent salary.Outside, as I'm writing this, Edinburgh is soaked in a wet mist. A long way away from Saudi Arabia, this shitty Celtic Wasteland, and yet I wouldn't trade this in for what used to be. I do, though, have to remind myself that somewhere out there in the mist, there's a Grail I was looking for.