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Someone call quality control.
The zeroth hour

A piercing surge of emptiness and self-pity that I'd tried to ignore but that had been building all evening suddenly rushed through me. And after that, all that remained was the meaningless sorrow that occurs when depressant chemicals and melancholia are combined. The evening wasn't at all bad, indeed many good memories were harvested, only it was worse than I expected, and I had been in need of a good lively party for a long while.

Actually, the overwhelming emotion I felt that night was probably regret. Regret that this was the most exciting thing I could think to do to welcome in a new year and that I'd allowed another wasted year to slip on by. I wouldn't have minded so much if it hadn't pulled such a ridiculous face as it did so. Here I was, using my life to be finishing off a pint in a half-empty pub with a bottle opener stolen from home in my pocket and horrible music surrounding my ears. I will soon have to go back to school where I will fester away, grow to hate my roommate and look forward to coming back again for more evenings like this.

Once, soon after I met her, Sissy said that I'd start to hate the school after about six weeks. How scarily accurate she was...

And yes, I sat there and I wondered why I allowed myself to continue to get upset over a girl. I viciously asked myself increasingly trying questions but never it seems, the right one. Why do I waste so much time over a corrupt memory of ghosts from the past? Why oh why does the spirit that haunted Sisyphus still trouble me - why am I continually unable to walk away from that despicably abhorrent boulder and hill down in Hades? Why can't I even do anything to help myself?

I felt so empty. I didn't even notice when Big Ben chimed. I wanted a better life for myself outside of Canterbury's city walls. But here everything was just as bad - no-one new, just people I once knew. Me; even here still a pusillanimous pariah. I knew I been kidding myself all along in a typically dogmatic mine's-better-than-yours way: life would have been better had I stayed. And then everything I'd desperately been trying to forget instantly flooded back, all of it from the very beginning of that cruel peripeteia. Here I was celebrating a randomly chosen date and feeling morose because there was no singing of Auld Lang Syne and of the good old days, no-one to kiss and no anticlimactic television countdown. We were utilising an excuse for a party, but all I could think was that there was no conceivable reason to feel jubilant and roister.

I stumbled outside and wept, wept long and hard as though it had been teargas I'd been drinking all night. Warm salt tears streamed down my face, scalding my dry skin and falling onto the clothes I'd laboured over choosing, hoping they would make me look good. I trudged outside, stomping downing perky green blades of grass into ground made soft by thousands of raindrops before me. My vision was blurred through tears and despair and it swayed like an amateur video camera. The icy windless air burned against my face, but it wouldn't have made any difference to my lachrymosity had the sky been as blue as a blackbird's egg. Why is it always freezing cold when I want to write?

I wanted to break out my holy water there and then, finally exorcise and be rid of every one of them once and for all. I wanted to purge her right there and then; achieve the closure for which I've been yearning so long. But no, I still can't, and that's why I'm so woeful - so triste and despondent. For such non-reasons, I felt sad.

Sad? No. I resolve; not sad but just pathetic. I couldn't explain to myself quite why that particular ephemeron, the insignificant and meaningless time that we shared together continues to mean so much. And so, on New Year's Eve, I was standing outside by myself and crying.

I was crying because - because we could sing better songs than those.

Hah: I've been reading Poe's poetry.

One, two, three; one, two, three - count the friends you still see

Though less than usual, there were still a fair share of noteworthy events to record in memory for posterity's sake. Abu telephoned an hour after I had expected his mother to collect me and said that he was in London - he had spontaneously deciding to go and purchase a pair of spiked magic boots. Anyway, I quickly made my way to the train station, acutely aware of altered festive timetables and the landslide on the Redhill track the day before. Thankfully, the only delay was due to typically over-zealous policemen searching a train full of merry revellers. At Redhill, I paused for a few minutes on the platform over a trivial dilemma and then, with perfect timing, bumped right into Abu returning from his jaunt to Camden. He repeatedly hit me with his shiny new boot box.

We waited for a train to TD's and, soon after arriving, joined a game of Mario Party 4. I immediately 0wnz0red everyone who'd been playing for ages by (nearly) winning the required five mini games in a row. My streak of excellent winnage was only briefly interrupted by Weasley who'd been practising Domination all day. I only lost because I forgot to control my breathing efficiently, but had the last laugh later when I destroyed his record. After Abu had lost to TD at Severance, we were thrown out of the house and, grasping bags of beer bottles, made our way to the only place in Reigate we knew (via the cash machine, of course).

Here, we were amazed to find that the pub didn't have some sort of ticketing system running and, in addition, that it was more empty than we'd ever seen. And so, we went and sat in our corner at eight o'clock, talking in loud voices and waiting for the new year to come out and smack us in the face. I waited for a stupid length of time for two pints and Abu discussed the merit of cider. Soon David arrived, lovingly carrying a shiny new TV Go Home book - it bewildered Weasley and delighted the rest of us with the spot-on sardonic irony. And so the night wore on with Robert donning a pink-ribboned bonnet in the corner and the bar staff appearing sporting unquestionably indecent cross-dress. Inspired by a picture in the aforementioned book (as well as canine masturbation), I brought up the subject of Phallus Fencing which amused us for much of the evening (if only due to the pseduo-alliteration). In fact, after beating TD in the final, I was declared the undisputed champion of Phallus Fencing and Abu inserted his penis into a crisp packet despite not being totally wankered, dude (no, really). When I questioned the authenticity of this alleged feat, he only went and proffered a piece of testicle meat as proof. I quickly looked away and drank another pint.

While Weasley lost on the gambling machines, I enquired as to why we still hadn't played on the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? machine lurking by the pool table. Without further ado, the least rowdy bunch of us proceeded to march over to the machine and try not to start a fight with the pool players. After losing about a quid because of Weasley's retarded screen-pressing skills, there was a stroke of genius when TD guessed nearly every answer and we marched on to win six pounds. Even though we clearly could have sat there all night and burned the machine dry, we quit while ahead and offered the pound we each procured towards the next round.

TD, Banks Danny and I ventured outside and had a surprisingly deep philosophical discussion considering the circumstances. I no longer have any idea what was said. After that, I failed to persuade others to come with me and try to find a place in Reigate with a few more than eight people. In the end, Abu and David came with me and we ran down to the high street where we saw many suspicious policemen and a couple of girls in Pizza Hut. I had no idea where the Blue Anchor was, even though I'd used it as an incentive to drag David and Abu out. All the other pubs seemed to be equally dire inside. We turned and, defeated, made our way back to the pub. But not after Abu had run away...

As we jocularly returned, David and I (probably) mentioned something to do with policemen and penile inadequacies and, just then, a police car screeched past. The next thing we knew, a couple of cops were calling us from behind after squealing to a halt right after espying us. David admitted his real age and they accused him of looking bleary eyed before instructing him to pour his precious alcopop away onto their shiny boots. Then they threw all manner of aggressive questions our way and used verbal trickery in an attempt to confuse us into admitting we were cannabis dealers. They invented street slang and then demanded I didn't lie when I could make no sense of their drug argot. I couldn't quite believe these power-tripping policemen were serious, but had no choice but to cooperate. They searched us both twice and recorded names and addresses. Of course, I gave stupidly fake ones, but they didn't twig at all and I really doubted it would be followed up. During my search, I realised I had to hide my phial of C5H11NO2. Cunningly, a drunken youth such as I outwitted a couple of coppers by tipping out the contents of my pockets onto the grass as a distraction ("What, a candle?") and, while they were being inspected, concealing my illegalities behind my back. They really were clueless - my plastic bottle of Gordon's gin was even mistaken for water. Ah, the inanity with which I giggled when we were finally released...

We got back safely and even Abu turned up okay. Then, it was only a short wait until the long-awaited moment and I was feeling ill. I spent ages failing to text Philly due to clogged up phone networks even though I knew I never should have considered it to start with. Later, she replied with derogatory dismissives laced with excruciating civility. Afterwards, we waited until about one before returning back to TD's. Meanwhile, Abu had been thrown out of the pub for doing headstands on a trolley he stole after running away from David and I and more arrests occurred due to a stupid Mole wantonly vandalising the streets with torn up papers.

Not once did TD pour lager on me.

We went up to TD's room and lay on mattresses dreamily looking up, listening to iPod music and wondering why the ceiling was sloped. Later, I assume people played video games until they fell asleep while I stayed up all night playing on LJ. I chatted to Colin for the first time in a million years and discovered he's become a closet movie buff. Who would've thought? The morning crept up on me as dawn dawned and solid sheets of rain gradually abated their drumming on the conservatory roof. Abu woke and ate a million chili nuts before complaining that his throat hurt and then Danny helped me beat everyone at GameCube games. Abu and I were fetched and went home after walking Tosh. All in all, a pretty typical night out.

Stranded in a sea of my own making

But anyway, again I regrettably turn back to the underlying self-induced cause of this all. As my own stultification continues and I shamefully wallow in the ebb and flow of universal woe, I remembered back to when I was at school. When I couldn't cry, no matter how much I wanted to.

Toward the summer holidays before I went away, I had a dream in which I found a huge stash of illegal substances hoarded by my sister from this completely different illicit underworld that exists at the school I was due to join. Of course, it was completely false and the fact is my sister only exists as a hard drugs pusher in that dream world, but still, to me, the dream was a lot more than simply distant unbelievable fantasy. It lucidly showed me how little I knew about life at King's, how radical the change could be and how unknown it was. I could quite easily imagined the place to be as disparate from the life I knew that the school was run by gangs of drug smugglers who kept order by running amok with imported submachine guns. I even knew what their names were from Counter-Strike.

Of course, the reality was very, very different. The strange thing was, no matter how different the people were and the dissimilarity of lifestyle, I found that adapting enough to survive was effortless, in spite of the school's best efforts to be as disorganised as possible. I just got on with each day as it came and barely noticed the lack of all the daily routines I should have missed, the lack of parents and coming home every day - sometimes even the absence of close friends. I soon came to learn that the hectic day-to-day regimen of activities meant I had no time to miss anything and, also, that is sucked out something from within me that perhaps remained in the world I knew at Reigate.

Naturally, I found everything perfectly acceptable for the first half-term. I didn't mind it at all and did what was asked of me, only feeling slight pangs of guilt when I received an email or text from a familiar name. Still, they were soon forgotten, and I woke up the next day and dragged my half-asleep body to assembly, already looking forward to the respite that the evening's sleep would allow. Yes, things had been fine. Not once did I feel trapped or that things were getting too much for me. It was a long-perfected system, a near-perfect régime.

And so things went on until that fateful day. Afterwards, once I'd returned from the revelatory visit to China, I finally realised what had been missing. No matter how I felt, the lack of privacy and everything else in combination meant I was unable to let it all out. I couldn't cry at all.

Now, perhaps it's just me, but I'm sure I would usually have let the tears fall had I been in the same situations, the same level of grief and despair back in my candle-lit room at home. But the problem is, I don't remember it at all anymore. That warmly-lit room of mine felt so very far away. It built up more and more as the term went on until I felt I couldn't wait to get back. All I wanted was to run back home and curl up with the lights out by a radiator with some candle wax. That was all I could wish for, a wish to get the release I so desperately needed.

And now I'm back here, it's too late. All my emotions are clouded by distance, both temporal and physical. And there's no cathedral to look up to; no stars and moon in the sky, no evening walks and nothing left to remind me. I'm sedated by having a full night's sleep and nothing to do in the morning. The desk lamp reflects off my window and I've got used to my nocturnal life; my routine of sleeping at dawn, eating one meal a day and living in front of television programmes I don't watch. And still, even though I'm surrounded by the familiarity of hateful parents and a beautiful house, I still can't do it. I don't think I really have the energy to want to anymore.

How does that old song go?

And instead I think about some things. I thought about the way David once said to me, as we walked back to his house from school, "you have everything now". At that moment, I stood still for a moment and realised how right he was (and also how wrong). But still, it saddened me and, partially as a result, Christmas didn't occur this year. Apart from cash from aunts who've now realised that's the best thing, my sole gift was a garden centre bonai tree from my mother who suddenly realised how bare the Christmas tree was looking. I didn't mind at all. After leaving it too late and consistently forgetting to care, I didn't purchase a single gift either, and don't even feel like a tight-fisted scrooge about it. I will buy my family gifts when I please, I shall buy them for true reasons, not because glaring banners in every shop window want me to buy things I don't need. I don't need some bastard-child of a celebration to coerce me into buying presents for everyone. I'll get something really nice if I see it and I'll wrap it in tin foil. But will I do anything good for other people?

I wonder when my entries will stop being so angsty and cease reverting to mentioning her. Sure it will run out some day? I wonder whether anyone will notice how rushed this was. I wonder how far away I seem to the people I was friends with back at Reigate. I wonder how much they see that I've distance and drawn away after just one term. I wonder if they see a path back and whether I'm able to take it. I wonder whether anyone noticed we got exactly the same score in the English exam. I wonder whether it was purposeful duplicity she exhibited. I wonder whether I can ever turn to asceticism like I always feel I should, and whether it will help at all. I wonder whether I'm right to show contrition and ask myself whether it's only weak desperation, the habit for which I should have kicked by now. I think about the final congratulatory assembly, when she got annoyed because the headmaster didn't mention she was joint fencing captain with Rob Jennings, and the way she reacted just how I knew she would. I remember when she told me how chuffed she was being made joint captain because she knew it would annoy Rob, back then an arch rival sure of being made head of the sport. I distinctly remember how her anger faded away when Rob Jennings made a point of mentioning her as a joint captain. I wonder why the same phenomenon occurs every time I have a use for my mobile phone and go out to purchase more credit - I think it's a cross between Murphy's Law and tragic irony. I wonder why the letter I wrote to Lois all that time ago reads so much like my current thoughts.

Thought for the day

In some ways, there's something undeniably sad about seeing a fresh blanket of snow perfectly untouched by children's feet.

    mood: stupid
    choon: The Cure – Boys Don't Cry
From:turkeyphant [.]
Posted: Friday 31st January, 2003 at 10:27.26
 Good old replying-to-your-own-entries.
I guess I'm already far too old.

But still young enough to start over...
for $1 | anyone can conceive a god on video