Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It was a bizarre ritual I had devised some years before. Often, while waiting to get into a club, I'd hand over one of the pennies that lined my rucksack. It seemed to be overflowing with pennies since my 2005 English adventure and although it was never a big deal to hand one over, I'd closely examine how they'd react. Some would be confused, unable to understand why I would hand over something so fiscally worthless. Others, namely the important one, the one who ruined me, seemed to get it. I was bemused to see him closely examining the brass coin, grinning. He would soon boast proudly that he affixed the penny to his wall in order to hold up a poster of Johnny Marr. He would later attempt to return the penny to me, at the end of one of our many epic break ups. I was just about to get out of his car when he slipped the penny into my hand and I wanted to die.

I had never really felt the need to articulate the consequence of the penny, especially since it had been so long since my rucksack had been lined with them. I found myself talking about it with you, for some reason. I had only just met you for the first time a few days before, but we felt content and comfortable enough to talk for hours and hours at Sousou. Even then, you marvelled at how alike we were, often proclaiming that we were separated at birth. I remember your retelling of G. K. Chesterton's short story, What I Found In My Pocket and I can only assume that it inspired me to tell you about the ritual I once practised. I came up with some very vague analysis, suggesting that it was a kind of innocuous test, something to do with the heart. I wanted to see how they would treat something with so little value.

Months later, we met upstairs at Bimbo's and you proudly boasted that you had a present for me. It was a book wrapped in crinkled and faded Florentia paper, allegedly found in an abandoned cupboard. I was thrilled to find it was an alarmingly new-looking copy of Anthony Thornton's Libertines book that you allegedly found in an op shop. More poignantly, you had attached a 10p coin to the back cover with masking tape. We never really spoke about what it all meant, in fact it was probably the first time that we had ever stopped talking for more than a few moments. I suppose when I think about it now, it was the first time that I ever felt like I was on the back foot. Where I had assumed that I was always in the position of the sincere and vulnerable, I was being asked if I was for real.

As it stands, I'm unsure whether I'd ever want to voluntarily hand over trust like a worthless penny. I once thought I was impervious to harm, after the damage sustained from the important one. I imagined I had perfected an almost undetectable level of detachment and that's the reason why I stopped myself from practising this ritual. I never trusted you with a penny, as such, but I made the mistake of handing over more trust than I ever would have consciously permitted. If only I had been smarter, if only I had been more stealthy, if only I had been more sensible, I would have known. I would have known not to bother.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Hypocritical Headband

Missy Laur and I would often preface advice with the expression, "please excuse the hypocritical headband". It was a reference to the large 1960s headbands I used to wear. Like the headband, the hypocrisy of the scenario was so dramatic that it could never be avoided and instead of being sensible and attempting to take our own advice, we would use the hypocritical headband as a mechanism to deliver lectures, guidance and comfort.

We wore the headband in good faith, we did. We were deathly aware of our mutual propensity to obsess, in spite of our reassurances that there would come a time when we wouldn't. She told me repeatedly that things would get better and after a very long time, they actually did. I would reassure others too, sitting across from dear friends at Sousou. I would tell them that no matter how painful it is now, everything will eventually numb out in time.

Those reassurances now seem so wildly insincere, so desperately hypocritical. I can't believe I ever forgot how painful it could be, but then I find it hard to believe I ever managed to endure it all before. I know on some fundamental level that it will be their words, the words of Missy Laur and Louise Sucre that will ultimately cure me. I have no idea what words could make for any immediate cure but I will try and listen. I will try and get better.