Tell Me I’m Wrong

By 8pm on a largely housebound day, there’s nothing for it but to coat up and walk purposefully round the streets of Brockley. A few odd looks - some of them from me, probably. If anything bad happens tonight, I’ll be one of the unknown figures who have to step forward and be eliminated from the police enquiry. Did you see this man? Stubble, prominent nose. My crumbling teeth have recently funded most of the solid wood flooring in the dentist’s waiting room. But hyperinflation favours those in the red, not those in the black, so who’s counting?

You want to tell me I’m wrong.
You must admit that I’m right.
You want to say that it’s over,
but I just don’t believe in you.

Ian McKellan is Waiting For Godot. I could have done with a bit more tragedy, a bit less ha ha hee hee. There’s a time and a place for slapstick: it’s Cannon and Ball, Great Yarmouth, 1981. I dragged Thomas along and he struggled to hear what Sir Ian was blathering on about half the time but still managed to say something edifying about the set design. I didn’t know whether the interval was the interval or the end, which is less humiliating than it sounds; I read it a long time ago and act one ends with the same lines as act 2, OK? OK.

Check dating site for new messages. No messages. Bloody men are like bloody buses, says Carol-Ann Duffy. Hang on, Ms Duffy prefers women. Maybe it was Wendy Cope. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Definitely Larkin. So much mental health diagnosis is circular. You report symptoms a, b and c to the doctor and they call it X. You ask them what X means and they tell you it means a, b and c. So the equation “mood swings equal personality disorder”, or whatever, can only ever be trivially true, like the statement “All bachelors are unmarried.”

Sister, from birth we must write our own story, and anything we choose we are permitted to do, says Brecht. All you need is love and work, says Freud. I’m not repeating myself; I’m continually refining a key motif. I’ll get away with it, like the bogus curators who describe their charges’ ill-considered efforts as a meditation on something or other. Covers a multitude of sins. BBC4 shows an installation artist flailing like a wet halibut when asked to explain his work, made to look a fool either by the editor or just by the entire edifice. Suicide blonde; dyed by his own hands. Lying in the sun on the Heath, Ian laments the loss of any will to be demanding of students. I’m no better, still only really turned on by writing a new song, or the ten minutes in the middle of a good film when I get truly out of my face.

Waiting for the great leap forward. Written in blood, downloaded in seconds, forgotten in a fortnight. Realising I need to stick to the bit I can do well, leave the sea of possibilities to someone else. I like the theory more than the practical. I had them and I’ve lost them. But lately, thoughts of the exquisite possibility of a return to former glories, modest as they were. The little train that could. I think I can; I think I can; I think I can. Michelle Gomez as Janice in the Book Group. Beckett’s Endgame starts with: Finished! It’s nearly finished. It must be nearly finished. Resolution always so near yet so far, always snatched away. Zeno’s tortoise doomed never to reach the other side of the room. But a real-life blood’n’shit tortoise does get there, hare or no hair. Eventually, you say: that’ll do; it’s good enough. The good-enough parent. Little is left to tell. Eventually you say: finished. It must be nearly finished.