Sometimes you’re heading to work in the mornings, making your way to the station, and you think, “I can’t do this”. But you don’t want to turn back. At least I don’t. I just want to stop where I am. I just want to stop right there, on the spot, and say, “I’m not doing this anymore. Fuck it. I am not you. I can’t do this.” And I would just stay rooted to the spot, watching the human traffic rush past me in various states of anxiety as they make their way to jobs most of them dislike.
Two and a bit years ago, I didn’t have to do this. I was in my final days earning as a professional writer, still having scripts commissioned by broadcasters, attending castings and read throughs. Big name actors would be attached to my scripts. I was still picking up development deals for new TV and film projects and meeting producers in unnecessarily poncy Soho coffee houses. But the well of ideas was drying up. I was hitting a wall. Professionally and personally.
The warning signs that something was wrong were there at the beginning of the year when I’d gone into 2008 with a terrible mullet. I had the money to address that. I wouldn’t even have had to book the recession Stand-By-half-price-get-your-hair-cut-by-the-trainee. I could’ve gone for the outrageous £35 haircut back then. There was no need for the mullet. I don’t know how it came to pass that I began the year like that. As I’d hit my mid-thirties, I began to consider that it was time now to put my long haired days behind me, grow old gracefully and get myself a sensible haircut. I had grown my hair one last time in preparation for saying goodbye to it. But I hadn’t looked after it. It was out of control.
At the end of ’07, I’d made my last trip to Spain with this bad hair. Out there, I went down ill with swollen glands and my face ballooned to a ridiculous extent, though Latin America always reckoned I had a big face anyway, often calling me ‘Big Face Man’ – she once tried running with BFM but I told her the acronym thing wasn’t going to catch on and advised her to drop it.
Her knight in shining armour riding to her rescue with a bizarrely long face and an appalling hairstyle. She must’ve felt cheated and it was obvious that The Beauty & the Beast Fairytale scenario wasn’t one she welcomed.
I returned to London on the Saturday night and made the mistake of lugging all my luggage back to Putney on a train. On the connecting train, me and my swollen face ran into trouble when I confronted a nutter on the carriage who was picking on a young woman because, well, because he could.
Unusually for me, I was so tired, so pissed off with myself for electing to get on a train rather than take a cab, that I was ready to fight this crazy man. I didn’t back down and eventually, as the back and forth between me and the loon continued on the carriage, other passengers – encouraged by my refusal to back down, backed me up.
The poor girl though was trapped between a rock and a hard place, her aggressor obviously unwell, her knight in shining armour riding to her rescue with a bizarrely long face and an appalling hairstyle. She must’ve felt cheated and it was obvious that The Beauty & the Beast Fairytale scenario wasn’t one she welcomed.
As I got off the train, I remained angry enough to deliberately seek out the nutter on the platform, delighted he too had got off at Putney. I figured there was little damage he could do to already my grotesquely swollen face. I was angry that he had made me intervene on a packed train in my current ugly incarnation. That people would return home that night and talk about the disfigured have-a-go-hero who had shown them what courage was. Onlookers and staff pulled us apart, those that calmed me down barely able to look me in the eye.
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