Thursday, 5 April 2012

Value destruction

When I started writing 'Life in the Sauce', the predecessor to Alphatuosity, 15 months ago my hope was that writing about my catastrophe-prone random wobble through existence would prove cathartic. I also hoped that it would be funny, at least to anyone with an appreciation of slapstick and a guilty fondness for schadenfreude, that unloveliest but most distinctively human of emotions. In the first aim, LitS was a qualified success. I think the only reason I survived the darkest hours was that, when I was suicidal, I was often too busy writing to surrender to the mesmerising, beckoning call of oblivion. In the second aim I certainly failed and one unintended consequence of my blogging life has been the discovery that I possess one sick sense of humour. You, my friends, seem not to find my travails funny, for which I suppose I should be grateful.

In addition to my blogging, three other props have kept me limping along. The first and most useful of these is obviously alcohol, about which I have written more than enough. The second is the knowledge that, however far I fall, there will always be Christians, Muslims and other religious scum beneath me. Finally, there have been plants, thousands upon thousands of plants. Shortly before I went mad, when I was still forcing myself, in a daily effort of will that is now beyond my comprehension, onto the London train every day, one of my colleagues caught me browsing a plant catalogue online. 'Do your plants know you look at other plants on the internet?' He asked and I knew it was game over.

I do not, of course, think that a belief in fate is coherent but I do think that there are grooves and fissures in the landscape of possible futures down which real human lives flow like water on a beach. My recent life has been running through a particularly deep channel, a Grand Canyon snaking across the Arizona of alternative lives. This is not to absolve myself of blame. On the contrary, my precipitous decline has been entirely of my own making, to the extent we have any control at all. As a friend (sic) put it in an email, 'in the supernovae of fuck-ups, you are certainly one of the brightest and most admirable dead stars', one of the nicest compliments that has ever been paid to me.

Recent events have not so much been a case of decline and fall as turn turtle and plummet. At one time I flew across the Atlantic so frequently that I was briefly one of Virgin's most valued customers and in this capacity was invited to spend a night in a warehouse in Crawley with other gold card holders, testing out the new 'Upper Class' cabin. As experiences go, this was as surreal as they come without drugs (except alcohol, of which there was plenty), complete with piped background engine noise, which stopped momentarily every time the tape looped, causing me to awake in terror, imagining I was hurtling earthwards in a burning airframe. In the morning we assembled to provide feedback. One question we were asked was whether, if an airbag were incorporated into the seat belt (only in Upper Class naturally), we would feel safer. If you have ever felt envious of the fat cats at the front of the plane, reflect that most of my fellow panelists answered 'yes' and the airbags were duly installed.

The props that I've been leaning on these past few years feel as comforting now as an airbag between me and an uncontrolled descent into the sixth cordillera of the Andes. I'm going down and nothing, but nothing, is going to break the fall. Ironically, I'm no longer suicidal. Although death would be an eminently rational choice now (reproductive life over, children not yet fucked-up by alcoholic father, friends still abundant, not yet incontinent), I am too curious about what next spring might bring to top myself.

Today I signed a contract that wipes out my entire net worth. I sold my house for a loss of £650,000, which is what I was technically worth yesterday. I did this because there seems to be no choice. The day would soon have come when I could no longer pay the mortgage and the house would have been repossessed, leaving me bankrupt, with no house. At least this way my wife and children have salvaged enough money to start again, free of debt and the far more onerous burden of an association with me. I have some land and an awful lot of plants, around which I must now organise my life. There are also three stables, which I use for storage of pots and compost. It seems appropriate, at this time of year, to reflect that whereas Christ was born in a stable and went on to achieve immortality, I am likely to die in one and go quietly into the void.

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