14:13 and scrubbing at flesh

I need to be rid of anger, genu­inely tor­ment­ing anger, for a while. Even if only tem­por­ar­ily, just to give me some space to breathe. The con­stant under­ly­ing fury in everything I do, think or (vir­tu­ally) say is mak­ing it near impossible for me to func­tion. The only way to make it cease is to switch off almost com­pletely, so that all I can man­age is to stare at a screen, stare into the middle dis­tance, stare at noth­ing. I just want the anger to leave me. Leave. Please.

21:56 and mixed letters

Right now, there are words I want to write here. And yet, even though there’s barely an audi­ence for this place (and thank heav­ens for that), I don’t dare.

But I don’t dare to write the words to myself, either, to step away and put them down in a note­book or a text file, for fear they’ll turn against me and spit in my face.

And so. Here I am. And so. I don’t know what to do with the words. And so.

(I didn’t mean to use the phrase “And so” — it has con­nota­tions from the tumul­tu­ous past for me, even though the con­nota­tion was writ­ten “and so”, defi­antly lower­case, when I first glimpsed it many years ago. As for me, I’ve gone by many dif­fer­ent names as I attemp­ted to live lives other than this one — half of which I now for­get. I still don’t use my real name here, even though most now know it, for fear of being too eas­ily dis­covered. I wouldn’t expect con­cern, more deri­sion and dismissiveness.)

I want this long week­end to be over. I loathe bank hol­i­day week­ends even more than the stand­ard two-day vari­ety. They seem interminable.

Maybe I should try and sleep. I should, yes. I should try and sleep.

19:29 and I would, in an instant, a blink

The rain’s not help­ing tonight. As a res­ult, I’m becom­ing angry and frus­trated. The rain is always sup­posed to help, just the sound of it, allow­ing me to close my eyes and tem­por­ar­ily drift off, step out of myself. All that ridicu­lous psy­cho­lo­gibull­shit stuff, you know. Don’t you?

I tried to work earlier, to take my mind away some­where else. But I was just mov­ing items around a screen for an hour, try­ing to busy myself. I real­ised then that I don’t, in fact, have any work I could use­fully be doing right now, as I’m wait­ing for cli­ents to get back to me. Aimless.

I tried read­ing, get­ting lost in a novel, but I couldn’t find the way in to dis­ap­pear. The words pushed against my eyes, but no fur­ther. The same with attempt­ing to immerse myself in a film.

I feel cold, I’ll admit. I’ll also admit that tonight is one of those long nights when I yearn for some human warmth, com­pan­ion­ship, touch; a break from myself, being immersed in oth­ers for even just a little while.

21:49 and out of touch with reality

I could have been
You could have been
We could have been
They could have been
It could have been
It all could have been
Everything could have been
Abso­lutely everything could have been

You, me, they, it and everything

I need a ‘will be’ or two
I need a few wel­come cer­tain­ties
Now

The only one I have right now?
Tomor­row will be Sat­urday
That’s cer­tain (though I don’t want it to be)

I need more than that
And I’m not just being greedy
I’m being neces­sary
Entirely neces­sary
Entirely

14:22 and the intemperance of temper

  • It hurts to see your­self being writ­ten out of people’s per­sonal histories.
  • At best, I am a polite if some­what ashamed foot­note; at worst, I’ve been com­pletely erased.
  • I exis­ted then and — though I often doubt it these days — I still exist now. I think(?)
  • I exist on social media, of course. Because we all exist there. But only as increas­ingly vapid avatars.
  • Am I an embar­rass­ment? A blot on your per­fect copy­book? A bruise on your cleansed skin?
  • Last night I dreamt. Vividly. Power­fully. And (I will admit, with some embar­rass­ment) per­haps wrongly.
  • Then I woke for a while. Listened to the rain, the swish of traffic on wet tarmac.
  • Returned to sleep and to a night­mare that seized me, tor­men­ted me, froze me.
  • It was of the future. I don’t want to go there. I want to go back.
  • I’m not even sure how far. Just back. To when there seemed to be… something.
  • A hope.

21:45 and a green hue

Jeal­ousy.

Envy is too kind a word, too soft and poetic a word. It doesn’t con­vey the full strength of what I’ve exper­i­enced today. Or the full hor­ror of the dis­taste I feel for myself.

For today I’ve been over­whelmed, riddled, infes­ted and scarred by jeal­ousy. It’s filled me to the brim, to the extent where I’ve wanted to tear and gouge at myself to release the poison.

I haven’t. But I can’t deny it’s been close.

Jeal­ous, ungrate­ful, vile, despic­able cunt. He should be put out for tor­ture, he really should. Hate­ful, putrid insect.

18:14 and electronic humming

I don’t know why I’m post­ing here. I’m feel­ing aim­less, uneasy. I want to relax, escape into a book, some music or a film, but I can’t unwind, can’t con­cen­trate. I don’t have any­thing to say, noth­ing to share, noth­ing new has happened. It’s just too quiet, I’m too tired to work, and I can sense my mind gear­ing up for another assault — the kind it stages when it finds me unoccupied.

And yes, you read right: it’s too quiet. Con­sid­er­ing how frus­trat­ing, infuri­at­ing and even, at times, anxiety-inducing I find the deaf­en­ing racket passing by out­side my win­dow, the unusual quiet today is unnerv­ing me. (Though it’s all rel­at­ive: we’re still talk­ing a con­stant low-level hum of traffic, just no build­ing noise or lorries.)

I’ve been think­ing a lot about answers. How much I want them. How I want this, the forty-fourth year of my exist­ence, to be the year in which I get some answers. I’ve long felt that people and situ­ations hold off from provid­ing me with answers — answers that I either long for or, in some cases, think (with all genu­ine due humil­ity) that I deserve. I want to be sure of a few things, to under­stand and com­pre­hend. Not least because I have — maybe wrongly, maybe unwisely — a fairly good idea of what my future holds (I’m sure you can guess) and I need to be pre­pared for it. I need to have cleared the decks in read­i­ness, because it’s a future that… well, that scares me.

I am think­ing too much. I don’t want to think. It’s barely gone 6.00pm, but I think it would appear to be time for bed — in the hope that I can loc­ate the ‘off’ switch.

12:36 and time passes

It passes too quickly. Time, that is. Yes, head down, work­ing hard, stop­ping only to eat, shit and sleep has its bene­fits — namely, keep­ing the stut­ter­ing, slav­er­ing, scream­ing demons at some kind of dis­tance, bey­ond the gates, demand­ing entry. But sud­denly whole days have passed, weeks. A cal­en­dar reminder that pinged into life this morn­ing told me that a whole month had passed and I didn’t even notice.

I enjoy my work — I wouldn’t have opted for this route if I didn’t — but though I hate the phrase ‘work-life bal­ance’, at the moment it’s appro­pri­ate. Because there is none. The end of the see-saw marked ‘work’ not only has me sat on the end of it — which should cer­tainly guar­an­tee it’s going nowhere — but I’ve placed a couple of stacks of bricks there too, just to be abso­lutely and com­pletely certain.

Ten years ago or so I would have labelled myself a work­aholic. I was, in fact, just that — I did far more than I needed to and, look­ing back, it gave little reward or devel­op­ment. Plus, it was dam­aging. The odd thing is that I’m any­thing but that same work­aholic now. I genu­inely want to enjoy my work when it’s needed, but also stop and breathe and exper­i­ence some life along­side it. Or else, what’s the point? But when I do take a pause, there’s noth­ing there other than me and my hideous mind — and the voices sense the weak­ness. Before I real­ise it, the gates have been broken in and the demons are rush­ing at me, sens­ing blood.

22:11 and beyond my years

Over the past couple of years, I’ve come to real­ise that I am as much still a child as I am an adult. Indeed, though many people could say this about them­selves, for me the two extremes seem miles apart.

I am an adult. I am forty-four years old, but for at least thirty-five of those years, pos­sibly more, I’ve unques­tion­ably been an adult. Some might argue that my child­hood was ripped away from me — I can’t think about that, can’t even com­pre­hend that idea and all it means. All I know, how­ever, is that at the age of nine I con­sciously decided that if I was to cope with all that was hap­pen­ing to me, all that sur­roun­ded me, I needed to grow up. Fast.

So in the same year I moved from primary to middle school, I became an adult. My out­look on life, the ser­i­ous­ness of it, ali­en­ated me from many of my class­mates and friends. I was intense. Child­hood was no more. I knew what adults were like, what they did, how they behaved and — though I was impressed by very little of it and loathed much of it even more — I had to take on the mantle of adult­hood for myself. Simply in order to survive.

Thirty-five years is a long time when — if we regard adult­hood as reach­ing eight­een — I should only have twenty-six years of it behind me. As a con­sequence, I’m tired. Exhausted with being self-sufficient for so long. I dream — I genu­inely dream — of get­ting those nine years back, and what I might have done if I’d allowed myself to live them.

Then there’s the other side.

I am still a child. In many ways. I know this and I am fre­quently ashamed of it. I am not childish, but I recog­nise child–like qual­it­ies in how I see things, espe­cially aspects of adult life that most people my age should have exper­i­enced more often and to the extent where even if they don’t neces­sar­ily take them in their stride, such events won’t knock them for six in the same way they tend to for me.

As chil­dren, espe­cially in our teen­age years, we learn adult skills in abund­ance — even though we most likely don’t real­ise this at the time. We dis­cover the prac­tical and emo­tional upheavals that may come our way in the years to come, and get some under­stand­ing, how­ever small, of how to deal with them.

I missed out on the years learn­ing about such things, because I’d already forced myself to race ahead. I didn’t have the ground­ing needed to cope with cer­tain areas of adult life — but because those areas didn’t impinge on my exist­ence for so long, I some­how muddled through without really noticing.

Now, in my forties, I know what I missed and I’m entirely adrift. I don’t know how to behave, how to respond; my reac­tions seem incor­rect and I don’t know how to cor­rect them. Cer­tain events and exper­i­ences can be fright­en­ing, just as they would be for a child liv­ing through them for the first time, yet there’s no deny­ing they can also be exhil­ar­at­ing. Though exhil­ar­a­tion, in turn, leads to confusion.

So.

If I could go back, I would tell that nine-year-old child that, des­pite the genu­ine risks, he shouldn’t force him­self to grow up too soon. That he would miss out on so much, includ­ing things that would be import­ant to him later on. It would all make sense — some kind of sense, at any rate — sooner or later.

As to the forty-four year old writ­ing this, I don’t know what to tell him or how to guide him through the real­it­ies of adult exist­ence. At that point the child returns, want­ing someone to hold his hand and walk with him.

21:05 and the day unfurled

I have drunk too much cof­fee today. Never a good idea, espe­cially on a week­end. I start out assum­ing it’s going to help me work, help me con­cen­trate, help me drop back into work­ing for more hours than I should be work­ing (70-plus hour weeks are not uncom­mon at the moment).

But it doesn’t. Instead, the caf­feine highs just make me scat­ter­shot. Can’t turn my mind to any­thing. Worse still, they accen­tu­ate the depths of the empti­ness I feel — a racing mind is fine if it has someone to bounce off, to soak up the words and respond with their own — but in my case they just hit a wall of noth­ing and so, find­ing the vacant air uncom­fort­able, I start jab­ber­ing away to myself.

Jab­ber jab­ber jab­ber. That’s all I do. I don’t even know what I’m say­ing. But all day I’ve been jab­ber­ing. I’m now exhausted, but too hyped up to sleep. If I could afford the fares and the extra­vag­ance, I would order a cab right now and just ask to be driven. Any­where. Away from here. Away from me. Just for a while. I’d ask for my brain to be trans­por­ted, strapped in the front seat. Leave the meat suit, the broken meat suit, here. I don’t want his malodor­ous company.

I know you’re tired of read­ing this. I don’t blame you, because I’m tired of writ­ing it. But if I take away this place, this hide-out, I hon­estly don’t know where I’d com­mu­nic­ate all this debris. It would just stay in here, in my head, join­ing all the other voices, and even­tu­ally they would shout me down, down down into sub­mis­sion and I’d give up, accept the fate that haunts me.

And so I keep going. Just about. A fal­ter­ing and unsteady attempt at con­tinu­ing, at least.

02:11 and the tap drips

As I lie here, I can hear every con­ver­sa­tion, each one drown­ing out the con­ver­sa­tions I can’t hear, the con­ver­sa­tions I’m for­get­ting, the con­ver­sa­tions I’ve already… what? No? Gone. Com­pletely gone.

I hold my own hand and pretend.

You are wip­ing me away, puri­fy­ing the wound. I am wip­ing myself away, because I want to disappear.

I slough off the names like so much dry skin. But like the skin, the names grow back, stronger than before.

I have a phrase, but I’m not allowed to say it. Am I? Curve towards me, whis­per it.

We dis­joint, we polite, we sidestep, we avert, we non-committal.

00:58 and they drill into the earth

My desire, my wish, my need, my want.
Is to be trans­por­ted. Utterly trans­por­ted.
In all senses of the word.

Mean­while. This.

00:23 and dropped wires

Whatever pop­u­lar psy­cho­logy may say about the nature of the indi­vidual — espe­cially in these days when we’re each of us is fre­quently told that we are unique, spe­cial, dif­fer­ent — the truth is that a large part of who we are is defined by the people around us, the people with whom we com­mu­nic­ate and inter­re­late, from friends and fam­ily through to lov­ers and partners.

I feel dis­con­nec­ted from every­one and everything. As if the last remain­ing del­ic­ate wires have been cut clean through. An appre­ci­ation of faces has never been my strong point, but now I find myself for­get­ting even the appear­ance of those I’ve known or still know well.

As for my own face, that means noth­ing to me either  I can’t recall the last time I looked in a mirror.

I dont know who I am, where I’ve come from, what I’ve done or what I mean. I need, I think, to seek out answers to fill those sig­ni­fic­ant gaps before I for­get entirely. But I have no idea where to start.

Maybe I should fol­low the other course of action and become an entirely blank can­vas. Please, just paint what you want from me and I prom­ise to shape myself to your lines and col­our myself to your shades.

I DON’T BITE.

13:36 and two hours in, apparently

I, more than most people, real­ise that it’s only a date. Insig­ni­fic­ant. Just another day in the cal­en­dar. No more mem­or­able than any other day, date or time. Just another twenty-four hours in my life, your life, all our lives.

And yet I can’t help but feel emo­tions and fears more deeply today, try as I might to res­ist them. Wishes and desires for the future, ter­ror about other aspects of what may hap­pen to me, all tum­bling through my head. Since wak­ing this morn­ing, I’ve found myself miss­ing moments from my past and long­ing to revisit them; not many, no, but just a few sig­ni­fic­ant times that bring warmth to my mind while I’m try­ing to blink away the stings of slow-forming tears. I even find myself sus­cept­ible to the ulti­mate fool­ish idea - so, so fool­ish, I know — that this day might some­how her­ald a change, a turn­around, a way out. The thought that the year ahead might bring some­thing dif­fer­ent — even though I’m the first to accept that “you never know what’s just around the next corner” can invari­ably be answered with “no, I do; what’s around the next corner is most likely more of what came before the pre­vi­ous corner, because noth­ing changes that much”.

In a sense, today of all days I don’t want to be that hard-faced, icy real­ist. I don’t want to think that in three hun­dred and sixty-five days, I’ll be back here writ­ing more or less the same words. In three hun­dred and sixty-five days I don’t, in truth, want to be on this site at all; I don’t want An Unre­li­able Wit­ness to exist; I want to be done with this crutch, no longer need­ing it as a secret corner of the net into which to pour all my vit­riol, anger, upset and the darkest corners of my mind, while scrap­ing away the flesh until the blood, muscle and gristle is vis­ible beneath.

Even here, how­ever — this place, this hide­away where I find myself con­fess­ing to almost everything — even here I can’t admit to one thing. One closely-guarded secret. Because I know what I would like this day next year to look like. I know what I want to exper­i­ence three hun­dred and sixty-five days from now. But I don’t dare tell any­one — not even you — because it feels hope­less, needy, pathetic and, of course, deeply unreal­istic. I need to resign myself to that, but I can’t. I can’t quite give up on it.

17:28 and at 17 per cent unreturned

I’ve not been able to work today. Stared at the screen, mov­ing win­dows around, open­ing applic­a­tions, load­ing up the things I need to do but then just star­ing, star­ing, star­ing. I await dead­lines. I can’t relax without a dead­line or two. I wait on people’s emails with their wishes, dir­ec­tions and thoughts of how I might best bring their vis­ions to life.

I am beset by wak­ing day­mares. Head pound­ing, ringing, thun­der­ing with viol­ent thoughts. Grue­some. Grim. Of bowd­ler­ising myself. Of tear­ing my eyes from their sock­ets, bloodily, face stream­ing with red. Of cut­ting out my tongue with a rusty knife, then gor­ging on the piece of dis­gust­ing flesh. Of hit­ting my face over and over with a scorch­ing metal tray pulled straight from the oven.

Or worse. Even worse, that even I — with my accept­ance of such hideous­ness — can’t bring myself to think about in order to place into black and white.

Believe me, I don’t want to think like this. I want thoughts of con­tent­ment, bliss, light and warmth. Not con­stantly, but briefly. A pause from the end­less phys­ical tor­ture. But how­ever much I try to pro­voke such vis­ions, they refuse to appear. They’re off enter­tain­ing oth­ers, I suspect.

I want to be secluded in peace and quiet, wrapped in silence — not with THE SOUND OF LONDON CONSTANTLY SHOUTING THROUGH MY WINDOW — with warmth nestled against me, hands rest­ing on hands, heads rest­ing together, held with noth­ing but breath­ing, rising and falling.

13:38 and all talk no talk

There are so many con­ver­sa­tions I want to have with you. Espe­cially you. But also you. And you. Even you. So many moments I want to share, too. The know­ledge that they may well never — and in some cases, will never — hap­pen fills me with an unas­sail­able sad­ness, a crush­ing empti­ness that’s so heavy I don’t think I can move from under it.

It’s true that the past few days have been full of dia­logue. Burst­ing at the seams with it, in fact. I’ve barely shut the fuck up. But all the talk has been one way. Because the wall behind my desk, my front door, that tacky orna­ment, my kit­chen, my hands, text files and posts set to ‘Only Me’ on Face­book don’t answer back. They don’t give me the reac­tion I need. They don’t engage me with their thoughts and ideas and wit and passion.

This morn­ing, when I reached the fourth repeat of one par­tic­u­lar con­ver­sa­tion with the wall, I grew frus­trated, screamed back at it to demand some­thing, any­thing in response. Just one word. An exhaled breath, even. But no, noth­ing. Of course there’s noth­ing. It’s a wall, not flesh and bone and voice and thought and mind.

I don’t know any­thing any­more. I wish I did.

16:18 and a wreck for guidance

These should be the simplest of things to do. Actions that barely require a moment’s thought, because no one else would think about them bey­ond a second or two, if that. And yet they reduce me to a bag of nerves — agit­a­tion, clenched fists, fin­ger­nails dug into palms, pal­pit­a­tions, twitch­ing eye­lid, even phys­ic­ally trembling.

I don’t know how to com­mu­nic­ate sens­ibly any­more. I have become a nervous wreck.

A few hours of nor­mal­ity now seems like such a dis­tant yet much-needed goal that such an exper­i­ence has taken on an air of abnor­mal­ity for me. Some­thing extraordin­ary. The height of absurdity and the depths of deprav­ity. The voices whis­per to me that I shouldn’t want this. They tell me that I should stay cocooned, that I shouldn’t foist my vile pres­ence upon good people. That I shouldn’t even dare. That I shouldn’t even. That I shouldn’t. Shouldn’t.

And then a cli­ent calls. I can hardly speak. Stum­bling over words. I must pull myself together.

16:03 and retracing evidence

I tried killing this place again by mov­ing it to other host­ing as a test site. Rather hoped that it would van­ish in the trans­fer. It didn’t. I found myself won­der­ing how and where I’d communicate/remind myself I exist if it went. I genu­inely don’t know.

Even more than so-called-normal, this is a diary entry. All my entries are now diary entries, I guess, but this even more so. Diar­ies are dull, so you should stop read­ing now. It’s really for me, to keep tabs on myself and where I am (even who I am), because I have become all sieve and no reten­tion. I am made of dis­tant memor­ies, but no recent memory.

The past week — is it a week? I’m not sure — is fail­ing to stick in my memory at all. I’m not sure. I’ve spent all of today think­ing it’s Monday when it is, in fact, Wed­nes­day. I keep think­ing tomor­row is Fri­day. Last Sunday I thought it was Monday. On Monday I thought it was Sunday. You get the (dis­orderly) picture.

I resumed work­ing earlier than I should have done. I was sup­posed to start up again today, but instead found myself immersed in code and design last Fri­day. I con­tin­ued to work over the entire week­end, even though I should have done that even less. Part of it was neces­sity of the fin­an­cial and dead­line kind, but a large part of it was also the neces­sity of (some form of) men­tal bal­ance. I could feel the voices, the vicious babble, the black-as-pitch thoughts all clos­ing in again. Work­ing myself into the ground seems to be the only way I can keep them a little at bay, out­side the door and ham­mer­ing to get in.

In all, the two weeks I should have taken off work became — due to cer­tain events — about six days. I am try­ing to feel refreshed. I think I prob­ably do. But there is some­thing lack­ing. I think it’s enthu­si­asm.

Enthu­si­asm. Enthu­si­asm for life, for liv­ing. Yes. I am so very tired of myself — my voice, my thoughts, my talk­ing to myself, arguing with myself, pick­ing at myself, berat­ing myself — that I can’t sum­mon up any enthu­si­asm for yet more of me. Any emo­tion that used to reside in my words or in my speech is drain­ing away, leav­ing noth­ing but bland­ness. I keep telling myself that I used to have a brain that per­mit­ted me a little intel­li­gent thought, but I can’t loc­ate it. Je sens morte, M. Cotard.

I’ve tried return­ing to social media, to see if I can find some solace in the com­mu­nic­a­tion that offers, but I find I have abso­lutely noth­ing to say. My mind is exhausted and my brain is empty. I’m just post­ing things — images, links, whatever — to remind myself (more than any­one else, frankly) that I still exist. I’m a cipher for the things I see, just spew­ing them out again without com­ment because — because? I’m not sure why. Pre­sum­ably because oth­er­wise I sit inside my own head and those sur­round­ings have become so very, very tedious.

Oth­er­wise… well, oth­er­wise. Oth­er­wise, this. And that. Oth­er­wise this and that.

02:12 and two hours thirty-six minutes early

You had it right, Sarah. Even with the ever-present rum­bling noise of a city that never sleeps drift­ing in through my rot­ting win­dow, there’s a point in every sleep­less night when exist­ence becomes bar­ren. When you won­der why you’re still here. When you have to do some­thing to occupy your­self, because if you don’t you might take that final, fatal step in the wrong direction.

I often have a wak­ing dream on nights like these. A dream of a knock at the door — non-threatening, not caus­ing alarm, even though it’s the middle of the night. I open the door. Stand­ing there is either someone to whom I was close in the past, though look­ing some­how dif­fer­ent, or some­times a com­plete stranger. “I’ve got a car,” they say. “We’re going. Now.” And without a word of dis­sent, without cast­ing a back­ward glance at any pos­ses­sions, without — I’m ashamed to say — even con­sid­er­ing for a moment the respons­ib­il­it­ies I have here, I take their hand and let them lead me to the lift, down five floors, out of the build­ing and to the car parked imme­di­ately oppos­ite the entrance. Not a word is is spoken between us. I just go — will­ingly, gladly, without the slight­est of nerves. 

The dream never con­tin­ues. I never find out where we go — whether near or far, to our death or to a new life.

I want to know where and how we end up. Yet, at the same time, I don’t care. It’s imma­ter­ial. The main point is that it’s just Away, Out, Gone. And all done with the help I need because I no longer seem to have the where­withal — in any sense — to do this alone. 

If you want to go too, then bring the car here. I’ll join you. I’ll give you my address. No ques­tions. Just drive. We can go. We can do it. 

Away. Out. Gone. 

I’m wait­ing. 

23:38 and the eye of the clock

These days are full of other days that I’m remem­ber­ing too much. Everything is remem­brance. Every moment is a memory. I’ve thrown myself back to some­where in July of vari­ous years gone by — 1989, 1993, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012. Times when any­thing and everything and all seemed pos­sible. Corner­stones that deman­ded to be built upon.

I want the pos­sib­il­it­ies back. I need them. Excite­ment, a small thrill (only small, I’m not selfish or demand­ing). The future, as viewed from the here and now, looks too much like the wall in front of me, the wall that stares back at me wear­ily — bland, fea­ture­less, an unin­spir­ing shade painted by someone else to keep me in my place and pay­ing for the privilege.

I don’t have the resource­ful­ness any­more, the get-up-and-go. I’m exhausted. I barely have the get-up-and-blink. I need an accom­plice. I’ve always been bet­ter with a like-minded accom­plice (and I could reel off their names too, one and some­times even two from each of those years lis­ted above — but, well, I value their pri­vacy too much, even though each of them is either long gone or try­ing to go, and cer­tainly not read­ing here).

“We could be the bright­est fire­works, you and I.”

And I believed it, more fool me.