19/03/17, Now Close Your Eyes
I have continued to listen to the recordings, the ones promoting mental health. I lie on my bed on these evenings, the room is dark like the Scottish winter outside, there's light coming from the living room, and from the laptop next to me. I'm dressed in black, in leggings, vest and long black cardigan, with a baseball cap. I think it's important to strip as much away, like a time-traveller for an exploration, suitably unelaborate.
They repeat; the words, the woman, that guitar from the Middle Ages. The voice has started talking about an inner room where you feel safe. I can't envisage any room that would make me feel safe. Every room in the world is breachable, through wiretapping for example, any room is just seconds away from dark shadows across the sunlit window and intrusion. I try to think of glamorous rooms overlooking the sea, like those you see in Cannes, the homes of multimillionaires. Or a study with a garden outside, which I would love; but it doesn't make me feel safe, not completely. I conclude finally there is no room that makes me feel safe, even in my imagination. What gives me that feeling of security is being outside, in some beautiful forested valley, and I'm barely there, just particles in the light, no more than a split second from disappearing in the breeze, into the safety of the rustling leaves, or higher, into the clouds and beyond them.
So I have worked out my safe space. It becomes more awkward now as the voice continues with this assumption of my material needs; the voice tells me about a writing table and a film screen, and on the film screen are experiences from my life, all my achievements and happy moments.
But I don't have any achievements that make me bask in any kind of glow. No World Cup final in a Latin American country. No award for Best Whatever. No Booker or Pulitzer. No agent saying, 'You're the next big thing, let me represent you. Here's a million to tie you over.' I guess I am materialistic, after all. I try to think instead of happy moments. I have a few of those. I choose one. It's now my task to think of a future replication, something to give me a similar feeling.
And so it goes, the guitar keeps playing, the woman's voice – I realize at some point – has stopped. Perhaps she's sipping from a cup of tea. Maybe she's texting. Or maybe she's in the moment, staring at the white wall in front of her, thinking of stuff. I guess her name is June, she's overweight and in her late forties. I wonder how she became the mental-health voice of the NHS. It's not a great voice she has. It could be worse, and I'm reminded of the character of Rimmer in the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, who was so annoying, that when he worked for the Samaritans, all the callers apparently killed themselves. And then the punchline: it wouldn't have been so bad, but one of them was a wrong number. I smile at this memory, at the thought of his voice.I can see how this works, just in taking your mind off things. That woman's voice is your focal point, the hypnotic pendulum, it doesn't need to be profound, and it isn't. But you're thinking about her, not about the people whose feelings about you make you sad. I wonder if audiotapes of books work like this as well. Perhaps I can find out. The key when you live alone is to realize at a certain point you need to plan around it, in the same way that a parent would plan around their family. Because too much time thinking about yourself will fuck you up, eventually. It's finding those distractions. I've ordered a Star Wars novel, The Phantom Menace, yes I know the film was bad, but for a trashy distraction, easy to read, it's something nice to look forward to, I am looking forward to reading it and losing myself in it. I've given up thinking I'm going to relax by reading something weighty and substantial. Those substantial books keep sitting there on the shelf, and I guess, there they will remain for now. So here's to opening up to my trashy side, to Star Wars novels and audio tapes I'll listen to while sitting against the radiator in my cold apartment and staring into space, like a cyborg.