Wednesday 8th May, 2013
I memorise everything. The plates on the walls. The stopped clock. The perfect paper leaves. The rickety lamp with the heavily taped cable. I load it all on to the griddle of my brain. Along with this photograph.
Do I mean ‘griddle’?
I have no idea.
The word ‘griddle’ has been nudged out of my brain by all the new stuff.
I shall struggle on without it.
The smell of the wheat-bag, hot from the microwave. The muffled cacophony of tone-deaf Don singing through the night and bellowing, guffawing at the moon. Thankful fingers, bleached, scrubbing soiled carpets at 4am. The One Show. The crystal. The vinyl. The tea.
Today is my last full day in England till the autumn. I’m doing lots of things for the last time. I look out for them. The last passing conversation with the Dobermans downstairs. The last walk to my sister’s house for a bath. The last stretch of wet road and wayward worms. The last bath.
My mum has recovered from her operation. I am leaving home again. Just like the first time, 25 years ago.
My journey to September begins tomorrow at 9. My clothes are all over settee like piles of messy promises. I’m making a list.
Camera. Laptop. Dictaphone. Flip.
Check. Check. Check. Check.
Passport. Notebook. Kindle. Cash.
Check. Check. Check … Ah.
But not to worry.
The last time I launched myself into a project that required travelling around and writing about my adventures, I had a whopping £400 left of a two-grand overdraft. This time I’m not so fortunate. But this time I don’t really need money. It would be good, just in case something goes wrong and I need to bribe a corrupt official, or just in case something goes right and I need to purchase an ice cream for Monica Bellucci. It would be great, in fact, to have the extra choices that money allows. But I’m not going to let its absence oppress me. On the contrary, I am intent on embracing it. After all, it’s not as if I’ll be going hungry. And I won’t be freezing to death. And I’ll be hitching from one place to another like a beautiful hobo. So I really don’t need money. If it wants to come with me, it only has to ask, but in the meantime, I’m travelling light. Lighter than air. Carefree like a kaftan.
The Kindle was an early birthday present from my wonderful mother. I have around 180 books loaded onto it. They are all improving books. They are all improving books because all books are improving books, if you read them right. I have Arabian Nights and Japanese Fairy Tales, William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche. I have Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Masanobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution and Raoul Vaneigm’s The Revolution of Everyday Life. I also have Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, James Ellroy, David Sedaris, Franz Kafka and Stephen King. And heaps and heaps more. More books than I could read in two years. In the top pocket of my rucksack. Imagine that.
It’s later now, and I’ve had a last conversation with my mum and sisters in Scotland. We’ve grown a lot closer since all the men died. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve caught up a bit, since being around.
I’ve decided to write my mum a weekly letter. Like a proper good son.
It’s suddenly nearly midnight.
Capo. Harmonica. Skipping rope. Tent.
Check. Check. Check. There’s one in France. Hopefully it’ll be serviceable.
I’ve got to go to sleep now. Tomorrow deserves my best.