Just something that happened once, take from it what you will.
|(Excerpt from an Unfinished Memoir)
I came to in a place that was green. It was green all around. Grass and water below, and trees and bushes above. There was also whiteness, dotted around as snow in between the green and slightly less green. I packed up my tent and started the fire again from the embers. The tent was wet and I would probably have to think about stopping to dry it out. Desperately I rummaged through my bag and found the noodle stained pot that I usually cooked with, it was stained, but I was too tired to do anything about it.
I had walked a good twenty miles yesterday, which was good going. I didn't have any booze yesterday which is probably why I made such good progress. Sometimes I started off drinking and ended up further away from where I wanted to go! My itinerary had changed every time I had woken up, hung over, and I was now far from my initial plan. I was now walking along the Thames river in the falling and freezing snow and had forgotten completely my first plans. I started off in Luton, a town full of crazy people (I had decided) and one well worth escaping from. I recieved my Giro through the post and having being threatened with treatment for my "alcoholism" had decided to leave. Finding the cheapest, smallest tent that I could, and after picking up the essentials (consisting of noodles, a small amount of cannabis, a brand new camping stove, clothes, matches and I.D in a waterproof container, a fair amount of booze and some money just in case) disappeared from the face of Luton.
A week and a half had passed, and after circling Luton for a couple of days I went south and hit the River Thames. The river was incredibly beautiful, especially in the gloomy light of snowfall and the early darkness, and waking up was usually a pleasure. I camped on the bank of the river and would sit, listening to the radio watching Mother Nature do her own thing. I saw white and grey geese taking off before the sun was too bright, like holidaymakers waking at three in the morning to catch their flight to somewhere warm. I saw the odd Deer watching me in the distance with inquisitive eyes. I saw the sun go down in every different shade of pink, purple, and orange that I could think of. I saw rabbits and foxes and weasels playing the game of life and I also saw my life disappearing down a slippery road to destruction.
Why I had decided, age twenty-four, to give up everything I had (which in all honesty wasn't a great deal) just to disappear and not have to talk to anybody? I do not to this day know. But I did it and I felt great about it. I felt great about walking great distances and not seeing anybody, and mostly about the way the countryside changed and kept on surprising me with every corner that I took. I felt great about sleeping wherever the hell I wanted. Every now and then I would find a small waterfall in the rocks, or a circle of rocks that a people, probably not too different to myself had laid to honour some forgotten Deity. In truth I felt like my own Deity. I decided what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I decided that if I wanted to get pissed or wanted to eat or masturbate then I would do it and I would do it where and when I wanted to. I felt truly free.
Or did I. There came a time when I was starting to run out of food and had not had a drink in a couple of days. I didn't feel very free at this point. Life, and its pleasures had a grasp on my testicles, just like everybody I was trying to escape from. Maybe I could live without running water or toilet paper or even someone to cuddle up to at night. But I soon found out that I couldn't live without food or (what was mostly keeping me going) booze.
I eventually came to a place called Whitchurch. It lay on the Thames and as a village was stunning. It was inlaid with tiny roads and quaint country houses with people in tweed and four by fours tending their gardens. I came then to the church and being absolutely shattered, went in to sit down a while. My parents in a past life made me go to church, and when I say made me, I mean it. I never believed there was a spirit that reigns over all others even from a young age. It always struck me as ridiculous, these people who would go and sing for an hour once a week and believe themselves washed from sin. My sins ran deep, even then.
That is why I do not know the reason for what I did in Whitchurch. I prayed. What I prayed for was mostly free booze but also I prayed for the hurting in my life, and what brought me to drink (and to want to disappear) to stop hurting me. To stop feeling that whatever I did was useless. To be able to go to a party and not get paranoid. To integrate with everybody instead of wanting to be on my own. I don't know who I prayed to but I prayed to someone. What I recieved was a bit mixed.
I carried on from Whitchurch a while and set up my tent. I saw on the way an old camp with a discarded tent which was about half a mile away and went to scavenge. I found food, and booze. There were two three litre bottles of white cider buried in the bramble and undergrowth and not far away I found a six pack of beer. They were a year at least out of date, but out here in the middle of nowhere, it can't have been anything short of a miracle. I ate well and afterwards I drank well too. I put on my radio and next to the waters edge I rejoiced in the only way I knew how.
That was when I fell in to a frozen River Thames. I fucking danced right in there. I did not have a clue what I was doing until I found myself waist deep in freezing cold river water, miles away from anywhere.
I tried to dry the clothes I was wearing, with little effect. I swore to the sky and blamed people who didn't exist and for the next few days nearly died of exposure. This is my story, I do not know yet what it has taught me, if anything, and where it has brought me. Although certainly if there is someone somewhere, somehow controlling what happens to me, I think that I conclude that they have one hell of a sense of humour.