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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com Welcome Guest
    CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com
          You've come to the right place for the writings, including stories and essays of Carl Halling, born London, currently residing in suburbia, keen to develop as a writer. Please feel free to stay awhile, read, comment, but above all...enjoy.

    Thu, Feb 28th - 12:50PM

    Seven Chapter from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Six(a)




    David Cristiansen returned to Leftfield College in the autumn of 1984, and it may be that it was soon after this that his recent past started haunting him for the first time. After all, was it not only a few years previously he'd known legends of sport and the cinema, mythical figures of the theatre, blue bloods and patricians, and they'd been kind, generous of spirit to this nonentity from the outer suburbs. Now he was nearly 30, with a raft of opportunities behind him, and a future which looked less likely than ever to provide him with the fame he still ached for with all his soul.
    At first he lived off-campus, thinking it might be fun to coast during his final year as some kind of enigma freshly returned from Paris. But before long, he desperately missed being part of the social hub of the college, even though this was a virtual impossibility for a forgotten student in his fourth year.
    His time as one of Leftfield's leading prodigies had long passed, and other, younger whizz kids had come to the fore since his departure for Paris. They included the handsome young blond whom his long-time friend and champion Ariana described as being some kind of new edition of himself, due perhaps to the incredible diversity of his gifts. The first David saw of him, he was playing Gorgibus in Molière's Les Précieusesridicules, a part Ariana had originally earmarked for David, but he turned it down. The young man would ultimately find superstardom as comedian and character actor, and far more besides, while David persisted in the sweet, safe obscurity where he remains to this day.
    He read incessantly throughout the year for the sheer pleasure of doing so. For example, while Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh was a compulsory part of the drama course, there was no need for him to wade through O'Neill, the massive two-part biography of the playwright by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, but that didn't stop him.
    He made this descent into the depths of O'Neill's complex psyche at a time when he himself was starting to drink during the day at Leftfield. While his first can of extra strong lager would often be opened at breakfast time, he'd wait until the afternoon to get seriously hammered in the company of close friends. Such as Paul, from Playing with Fire, and Alastair, a science student who shared his passion for the dark romanticism of the Doors and Peter Gabriel.
    Paul was still trying to persuade him to join forces with him against an indifferent world, he with his writing and David with his acting, but for reasons best known to himself, he wasn't playing ball. Paul had always sensed something really special in David, which was variously described as energy, intensity, charisma, but for all the praise he received from Paul and others, he didn't seem to have a very high opinion of himself.
    It's possible that while he possessed the vast ego of the narcissist who requires constant attention and approval, he somehow also suffered from low self-esteem, which might indicate that he was a sufferer from actual Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whatever the case, he was going through one of his showily perverse phases, affecting a world weariness he simply didn't have at 30, but which upset and alienated a really good friend. And it wasn't long before Paul was out of his life forever, leaving him to stew in his precious pseudo-cynicism:
    "What an appalling attitude," he'd told him, and he was right on the money.
    His principal final year tutor was Dr Elizabeth Lang, and subject of study, the works of literary genius André Gide. And so he came to closely examine such Gidian characters as the urbaneMénalque from The Immoralist, who encourages the protagonist Michel to embrace Nietzschian individualism...the feral Lafcadio from The Vatican Cellars, who commits a crime of terrible cruelty simply for the sake of doing so...and the mysterious Comte de Passavent from The Counterfeiters, his only novel according to his own definition of the term.
    And in later years, he'd recall actually mentioning a particular instance of Michel's amorality to Dr Lang with what was relish pure and simple. Oh, how much he'd changed!
    But far from being a mere Decadent, Gide was the deeply conflicted product of a middle-class Protestant upbringing whose first work, The Notebooks of André Walter, was an anatomisation of Christian self-abnegation based on his troubled love for his devout cousin Madeleine, who went on to be his wife, a theme he would enlarge upon in Straight is the Gate.
    And a special favourite of David's by Gide was the novella Isabelle, which appealed to his softer, more romantic side. Written in 1911, it's the tale of a young student, Gerard Lacase, who stays for a time at a Manor house in Normandy inhabited by two ancient aristocratic families in order to look over their library for research purposes. And while there, becomes bewitched by the portrait of a beautiful young woman, only to discover that its model, the eponymous Isabelle, is now a hard, embittered individual entirely distinct from the lovely vision in the miniature.
    By the same token, his favourite ever play by O'Neill was another story of hopeless love, A Moon for the Misbegotten, written in 1947.
    Its leading character is based on Eugene's tragic yet infinitely romantic elder brother Jamie. And David became fascinated by him; and read all about him in the massive biography by the Gelbs.
    Blessed at birth with charm, intellect and beauty, he was one of Father Edward Sorin's most favoured princes while part of the Minim Department of Notre Dame University, Indiana. And so apparently destined for a glittering future as a Catholic gentleman of exquisite breeding and learning. He was also potentially a very fine writer, although he only left a handful of poems and essays behind; and the owner of a beautiful speaking voice which ensured him work as an actor for a time alongside his father James. His greatest legacy, however, is Jamie Tyrone, the brilliant yet troubled charmer who haunts two of his brother's masterpieces with the infinite sorrow of promise unfulfilled.
    David left Leftfield for good in the summer of 1985, and discovered soon afterwards that he had achieved a lower second BA degree in French and Drama.
    His first employment was as a deliverer of novelty telegrams, a job which brought him into many potentially hazardous situations, but which for him, was worth the risk, as he was getting well paid to show off and party, two of his favourite occupations at the time...but it was an unusual way of life for a man of thirty.
    What he really wanted was the immortality provided by fame, and he didn't care whether this came through acting, music or literature, or any other means for that matter. But until his big break came, he was content to feed his addiction to attention through the novelty telegrams industry. He evidently had no deep desire to leave anything behind by way of children, nor for any career other than one liable to project him to international renown. How then did he end up as a PGCE student at Coverton College, Cambridge in the autumn?
    The truth is he'd yielded to family pressure to provide himself with the safety net that's doubtless been advocated for centuries as a sensible if less romantic alternative to penury by the concerned parents of struggling artists while being despised - as a rule - by the artists themselves. For was it not the great singer-songwriter Nick Drake who said it was the last thing he wanted when it was suggested to him by his father Rodney?
    For David's part, he was so unhappy about having to go to Cambridge that just days before he was due to start there, he arranged to audition for a Jazz Funk band, and was all set to sing The Chinese Way by Level 42 and another tune in that then fashionable genre, but he never made it; because late and desperately drunk, he simply threw in the towel and resigned himself to Cambridge.
    From the time he arrived in the beautiful medieval university city of Cambridge, he was made to feel most welcome and wanted, and made some wonderful friends at Coverton itself; such as Donovan Joye, a most gracious poet and actor from the little town of Downham Market in Norfolk, with whom he was almost inseparable for a time. As well as Dale Slater, a singer-songwriter of melancholy genius from Yeovil in south Somerset who eventually went on to record both as a solo artist and group member in the London of the late 1980s and early to mid '90s at a time the neo-psychedelia he embraced was thriving. And stunning redhead Clarissa Catto, a budding professional actress from a vast sprawling area to the west of London whoseprincipaleponymoustownofSlough is perhaps most famous for having inspired a ten-stanza poem by much-loved former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1937.
    When he made his first appearance at the Cambridge Community College in what may have been Arbury in the northernmost reaches of the city where he was due to begin his period of Teaching Practice the following January, the pupils reacted to him as if he was some kind of visiting movie or Rock star. His TP would have been a breeze. Everything was falling into place for him at Cambridge, and he was offered several golden chances to succeed as an actor within its hallowed confines.
    Towards the end of the first term, the then president of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club had gone out of his way to ask David and Donovan to appear in the sole production he was preparing to mark his year-long tenure. He was a Coverton man, and so clearly wanted to give a couple of his fellow students a break after having seen them perform a couple of Donovan's satirical songs for the club.
    This was a privilege almost without measure, given that since its inception Footlights has nurtured the talents of Cecil Beaton, Jonathan Miller, Germaine Greer, David Frost, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Lawrie and Sacha Baron Cohen among many others. David could have been added to that list.
    As if this opportunity weren't enough to persuade him to stay put, a young undergraduate, renowned for the high quality of the plays he produced personally asked him to feature in one of his productions during the Lent Term. This after seeing him interpret the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie some time before Christmas. Someone then told him that if this young man took an interest in you, you were pretty well made as an actor at Cambridge. What more did he want? For Spielberg himself to be in the audience and discover him?
    In his defence, though, he did feel trapped by the course, and was finding it heavy going. In order to pass, you had to spend a full year as a teacher after completion of the basic PGCE. That meant it would be two years before he was free again to call himself an actor and work as such. It just seemed an awfully long time, when in fact it wasn't at all, and two years after quitting Cambridge he was even further away from his dream than when he'd started off.
    The truth is he left Coverton for no good reason, and there are certain verses from Maud Muller, by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, could be said to be most applicable with respect to his decision to do so, which came to haunt him in later years:
    "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'it might have been'."
    Still, within a matter of hours of the start of the Lent Term of 1987, he'd vanished, disappeared into the night in the company of a close friend he'd wheedled into helping him out.
    Once he was free, he set about the task of resuming his career, sporadically commuting to London from a semi-rural village 8 miles north of Portsmouth where he was resident at the time; although most days he achieved little. While it was music rather than acting he was interested in at the time, not that it ever really mattered to how he became famous, just so long as he did.
    He duly auditioned for a series of bands, such as the Jazz-Funk outfit from what may have been Croydon, and the Rock and Roll revival band from Pompey itself; but none of them took to him. And highlighted hair and dinky twin ear studs could hardly done him any favours, although by around about the beginning of '87 he'd started sporting a two-tone parka worn with tight grey corduroy jeans in an attempt to better blend in with his surroundings. Which is to say in contrast to such nostalgic sartorial items as '50s style gold lamé waistcoat, cuffed drainpipe jeans, and black suede winkle pickers with side buckles, which he'd only latterlyfavoured.
    However, he did succeed in impressing the artistic director of a Ladbroke Grove pub theatre who remained a close friend of his well into the 2000s. And with whom he worked soon after returning to London - which he did in the summer of 1987 to a minor flurry of creative activity - first for a play at the aforesaid theatre; and then a film pilot featuring the lavishly gifted American artist Ray Shell.
    1987 was also the year he got seriously involved in walk-on work for television and the cinema, although he wasn't entirely new to the game. For example, he briefly features as a Salvation Army bandsman in a scene from The Mirror Crack'd, directed by Guy Hamilton in 1980 from an Agatha Christie novel entitled The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.
    This took place at a typical English village fête set in the 1950s, and was being graced first by Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Sir Charles and his fourth wife the former Oona O'Neill; then by legendary Hollywood icon Elisabeth Taylor.
    Also, in Charles Jarrott's miniseries Poor Little Rich Girl, he can be seen gesticulating as legendary crooner Rudy Vallée in a party scene featuring Farrah Fawcett as Barbara Hutton, and Burl Ives as her grandfather F.W Woolworth.
    But these were just isolated episodes. For from around 1987, he took the work more seriously, first in the sitcom Life Without George, written by Penny Croft and Val Hudson and featuring Simon Cadell and Carol Royle; and then in the long-running police series The Bill, in which he sporadically appeared as a crime scene photographer for several years.
    Soon after he'd finished his work for Life Without George, he started rehearsals at the justly renowned Gate Theatre in London's Notting Hill for the world première of The Audition by Catalonian playwright Rudolf Sirera - with English translation by John London - under the direction of Ariana.
    While it's likely to have been originally set in pre-revolutionary France, Ariana updated it to the late 19th Century, possibly the Paris of Huysmans' notorious Against the Grain. And it involves the kidnapping of an actor Gabriel De Beaumont by an unnamed Marquis played by Steven Dykes, who goes on to sadistically toy with his victim before finallymurderinghim.
    It received some fair reviews...with David being singled out for some praise in the London Times among other periodicals.
    But rather than capitalise on this modest success, he decided to start work instead as a teacher at the Tellegen School of English in London's Oxford Street. And he did so at the behest of his closest friend, Huw Owen, the Swansea native who'd served as the model for Robert Fitzroy-Square in their Silverhill band, Z Cars, but who was now working at Tellegen's. Besides which, he'd already undergone a week's training with them and been offered a job.
    Thus, he entered into one of the most purely blissful period of his entire life, even while his theatrical career suffered. Although in August 1988 and at Ariana's behest, he served as MC for a week-long benefit for the Gate Theatre called Captain Kirk's Midsummer Log in the persona of one Mr Denmark 1979, a comic monstrosity created for him by Ariana; also providing several impressions.
    Among those appearing on the bill were comedienne Jo Brand in her then incarnation of The Sea Monster, satirical impressionist Rory Bremner, Renaissance Man Patrick Marber, initially a stand-up comic, but best known today as an award-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and maverick singer-songwriter John Otway.
    The Denmark character went down so well at the benefit that David wrote an entire show around him on the premiss that winning a Scandinavian male beauty contest in 1979 had so altered the balance of his mind that he'd since convinced himself he'd been at the forefront of pretty well every major cultural development since the dawn of Pop, only to be cravenly ripped off by Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Punks, Rappers and so on. It premièred to considerable audience enthusiasm - with Gracia McGrath serving as an effervescent MC - on his 33rd birthday at a new variety venue called Club Shout.
    And for David, being a Tellegen teacher was the perfect dream job...providing him with a social life on a plate, as well as enough money to finance the hours he spent each evening in the Champion public house on Wells Street, W.1. For once the final classes had ended some time after 7.30, student and teacher alike would meet at the Champion to drink and talk and laugh and do as they wished until closing time. And David himself would usually leave around 10.30 to catch the last train home from Waterloo, although, sometimes he'd miss it and have to catch a later one which might see him stranded deep in the Surrey countryside. At other times, there'd be a party to go to, or theTellegen Discoat Jacqueline's Night Club in nearby Soho.
    Most of the teachers socialised with their own kind, while David preferred the company of the students, although this situation was to become modified by 1990, when his friends were being chosen from among both the teaching and student bodies. But at night, it would be almost impossible to extricate him from his circle of favourites from Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Poland, France...fact which proved irksome to his good friends, Stan and Neddy, at a certain stage in his short-lived career at Tellegen's.
    For Stan, a Tellegen teacher and resting actor like David, and Neddy, a young student from the great city of São Paolo in Brazil, were trying to organise rehearsals for a band they were supposed to be getting together. But thanks to David's dilatory attitude, this never happened despite some early promise, as Neddy was a gifted guitarist, and Stan a potentially good front man.
    But David continued to discard precious opportunities as if they were so much stinking refuse...little suspecting that he was shoring up the kind of heartbreak that stems from unfulfilled promise, and which caused Jamie Tyrone to quote from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in A Long Day's Journey into Night, while clearly describing himself:
    "Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
    I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell..."
    As well as the perpetual party lifestyle, he spent his spare cash on clothes, cassettes, books, and of course, rent. That is, during those brief few months he spent as a tenant in Hanwell, West London at the house of a friend of his father's from the London session world, Dai Thomas.
    Dai was a slight, bearded, bespectacled Welsh fiddler of the utmost sweetness of nature who, always nattily dressed, lived life close to the edge but with what seemed to David to be with the absolute minimum of effort and maximum self-possession, which made him very cool in his eyes; and they became good friends.
    He also spent several hundreds of pounds being initiated into the art of self-hypnosis by a Harley Street doctor who specialised in hypnotherapy and nutritional medicine. This, in the hope of finding a solution not just to his alcoholism, but the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to which he was increasingly prey in the late 1980s.
    Yet, despite the drinking and the OCD, he was not an unhappy man, far from it, was full of joie de vivre, in fact, and subject to elation; but he was also prone to fits of intense depression. And it was hard for him to accept he wouldn't be returning to Tellegen's in 1990. But it was his own fault, because he'd left without warning early in the year...and then decided he wanted to return, despite having refused an offer to do so from the school itself some weeks theretofore.
    So, reluctantly delivered from a job he genuinely loved, he revived his acting career thanks once again to the influence of his dear friend Ariana.
    She suggested he might like to play Feste for a production of Twelfth Night, to be staged in the summer at the Jacksons Lane theatre in North London. And so after a successful audition for the director, Sandy Stein, he set about re-learning Feste's lines, and arranging the songs according to the original primitive melodies.
    Yet, if the play itself was a joy to be involved in, the same can't be said for the train journeys to and from Highgate for rehearsals. For it was during these lengthy trips across the capital that David started feeling the need to inure himself as never before against what he saw as nocturnal London's ever-present aura of menace.
    It's likely that years of hard living were finally starting to take their toll on his nervous system. For in addition to alcohol and nicotine, he'd been ingesting industrial strength doses of caffeine for years, initially in tablet form, and then in the shape of the coffee cocktails he liked to swill one after the other before afternoon classes at Tellegen's.
    This may go some way towards explaining the sheer paranoia which ultimately caused him to start drinking on the way to rehearsals, and then for the first time in his life as a professional actor, during rehearsals. However, he promised Sandy he'd not touch a drop for the actual performances, and was as good as his word. Although each performance was succeeded by some serious partying on his part...with most of the cast members joining him in the revels.
    And his hyperkinetic performance was well-received, with one beautifully spoken Englishwoman even going so far as to tell him he was the finest Feste she'd ever seen...and what a pity she wasn't a passing casting director. But then serendipitous incidents of this kind may have happened to some people...but not apparently to poor David Cristiansen.
    Later in 1990, he began another PGCE course, this time at the former West London College of Further Education based in East Twickenham, taking up residence in nearby Isleworth.
    He began quite promisingly, fitting in well and making good friends, and as might be expected, excelling in drama and physical education. And he was abstinent by day, while on those rare occasions he did drink, it was just a question of a pint or so with lunch.
    He'd mentally determined to complete the course, and yet on the verge of his period of teaching practice, found himself to be desperately behind in his preparation. And so provisionally removed himself in order to decide whether it was worth his staying on or not.
    In the event he chose to quit, but rather than return to his parents' home, he stayed on in Isleworth to rekindle his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. At the same time, he continued to work as a walk-on artist, something he'd been doing on and off for over a decade. But specialising as a crime scene photographer for a long-running police series with its HQ in Merton, South London.
    He also became half of a musical duo formed with a slim young Mancunian with short reddish blond hair and brilliant light green or blue eyes who rejoiced in the name of Maxie Coburg, although his true surname reflected his roots in Northern England. And while working as a singer-songwriter at the time, Max eventually evolved into a bona fide Renaissance Man, and not just as singer and musician, but actor, writer, performer, impressionist, film maker and radical thinker.
    They began as buskers in Leicester Square, before settling down for rehearsals in the hope of getting some gigs, their repertoire a mixture of Rock and Roll and Motown classics, as well as a host of originals, mostly written by Max. But with one or two contributions by David.
    He wanted to call the band Venus Xtravaganza, but in the end, they settled for Max's choice of The Unknowns, that is if they ever called anything at all. And unknown is what they remained which for poor David was simply business as usual.
    Then early in '91, he spent a few weeks in the beautiful seaside town and major London overspill area of Hastings, in an effort to pass a course in teaching English as a foreign language.
    To this end he worked like a Trojan; but he was struggling terribly, tormented by OCD and its endless demands on his time and energies in the shape of rituals both physical and mental. And while he didn't drink at all during the day, at night he was sometimes so stoned he was incoherent.
    Predictably perhaps, he was failed; and when he asked the authorities if they might reconsider, he was informed that their decision was final. It was a bit of a let-down for him for sure, but he'd loved his time in Hastings, even while continuing the search for some kind of spiritual solution to his mental troubles which led him to a "church" which was far, far from the kind he'd come ultimately to seek out.
    At least part of the reason for his torment may be provided by the following extracts from a letter his beloved mother wrote him during a fascinating but fruitless sojourn:
    "...I had a chance to look at your library...I could not believe what I saw. These very strange books, beyond my comprehension, most of them, and I thought what a dissipation of a good mind that thought it right to read such matters...I feel very deeply that you have up to your present state, almost ruined your mind. Your happy, smiling face has left you, your humorous nature, ditto, your spirited state of mind, your cheerful, sunny, exuberant well-being, all gone. Too much thought given to the unhappiness and sad state of others (often those you can not help, in any way)...I've said recently that I am convinced that anyone can get oneself into a state of agitation or distress or anxiety by thinking or reading about, or witnessing unpleasant things, and the only thing to do is to,asmuchaspossible,avoidsuchmatters,to not let them get hold in the mind. Your fertile mind has led you astray. Why, and how?"
    How many millions of mothers over the course of the centuries have asked this of offspring who've been inexplicably drawn to the shadow lands of life only to lose their way back to sanity? Only God knows. Most of course, successfully make the journey back before settling into a normal mode of life, but the danger of becoming lost is always there, especially for those who remain therein far beyond adolescence. Eternal adolescence being arguably one of the prime features of our era, facilitated by its exaltation of youth, which is an intrinsic part of its pre-eminent art form, Rock Music. And while there are those who'd insist that far fewer young people today are in thrall to the dark glamour of self-destructivegeniusthaninpreviousRock eras, the world view still very much exists.
    For David's part, he came ultimately to view Rock as more than just a simple Pop music derived from various Folk genres, so much as an enormously influential subculture, even a religion, and to contend that those who grew to maturity in the sixties were spiritually affected not just by the music but the cultural changes brought about by the Rock revolution.
    He'd insist that from quitting formal education aged 16, he was in thrall to a cult of instant gratification that had been growing progressively more powerful throughout the West since about 1955.
    After all, he'd contend, he failed to build a future for himself, in terms of a profession, a family, financial security, and so on, having once viewed all these with an indifference verging on contempt. And it hurt him deeply to realise the extent to which he'd sabotaged his life with such a negative identity.
    The following summer of 1992, he made another attempt at passing the TEFL course...this time at a college set in one of London's most beautiful parks. But he was drinking on pretty well a daily basis, and even though he worked hard and gave some good classes, there was no way on earth he was going to pass.
    Still, it was a fabulous summer, and much of it he spent in a state of manic hyperactivity. Bliss it was to stride in the warm suburban evening sun to his local station of Hampton Court...perhaps with the Orb's eerie Blue Room playing again and again in his mind...on his way to yet another long night of ecstatic insensibility. He could have passed out on any one of these wild nights and found himself in Hell; that is the terrifying truth of the matter.
    The romantic decadence associated with the eighties was no longer even remotely current, and there was a new spirit as he saw it, a kind of mystic techno-bohemianism perhaps, which appeared to him to be everywhere in the early nineties.
    And he sought to visit as many clubs and venues as he could where it was being celebrated, even though in the event he only ever went to one, Cyber Seed in Covent Garden, which was poorly attended and only lasted a short time.
    Later on in this final beautiful lethal summer of intoxication, and soon after appearing as Stefano in The Tempest at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, he set out on yet another PGCE course; this one bearing the suffix "fe" for Further Education.
    Its purpose was to train himself and his fellow students to teach pupils in sixth form colleges and other further education establishments. And while its base was the University of New Eltham in the tough outer suburbs of South East London, he divided his time between New Eltham, and Twickenham College in the leafy Royal Borough of Richmond on Thames.
    While on top of all this study, there were the gigs with Maxie...the novelty telegrams...and who knows what else...and he loved every second of a frenetic lifestyle lived in total ecstatic defiance of the wholesale ruin of mind, body, soul, spirit...
    The period embracing the autumn of 1992 and the first few weeks of winter may well have been the most debauched of David's entire existence.
    He'd - typically - rise early during the week, possibly around six, before preparing himself for the day ahead with a bottle of wine, usually fortified; then he'd keep his units topped up throughout the day with vodka or gin, taking regular swigs from the miniatures he liked to have with him at all times. Some evenings he'd spend in central London, others with his new friends from the college, and they were a close and pretty wild crowd for a while. There were times in town when he couldn't keep the booze down, so he'd order a king-sized cola from McDonald's, which he'd then lace with spirits before cautiously sipping from it through a straw.
    He was a euphoric drunk and so almost never unpleasant...but he was unpredictable...a true Dionysian who'd cry out on a British Rail train in the middle of the afternoon, causing passengers to flinch with alarm...or perform a wild disjointed Karate kick into thin air on a crowded London street. One afternoon he tore his clothes to shreds after having arrived too late for an audition and a barman who served him later on in the day asked him:
    "You bin in a fight then?"
    And then there was the shameful night at Waterloo station - or was it Liverpool Street? - that he was so incapacitated by drink that he had to be escorted across the main concourse to his train by one of a colony of rough sleepers that were a feature of mainline stations in those days.
    However, all these insane incidents came to a head one night in early 1993 in an Indian restaurant in Hampton Court close to the Surrey-London border. He'd been dining there with two female friends when, suddenly feeling like pure death, he turned to the lady who was next to him and asked:
    "Do I look as bad as I feel?
    As soon as she'd told him that indeed he did, he got up from the table, walked a few paces and then collapsed as if stone dead in the middle of the restaurant. He was then carried bodily out into the fresh night air by two or three Indian waiters, one of whom set about shocking some life back into him by flicking ice cold water in his face.
    "Don't give up," he pleaded, his voice betraying true concern...and in time thanks to him some semblance of life returned, and David was well enough to be driven home.
    Yet, within two days he was drinking as heavily as before, continuing to do so virtually around the clock until the weekend. He then spent Saturday evening with his close friend from the restaurant; and at some point in the morning of what was almost certainly Sunday the 17th of January 1993, after having drunk solidly all night, he asked her to fill a long glass with neat gin and each sip took him further and further into the desired state of blissful forgetfulness.
    He awoke exhilarated, which was normal for him following a lengthy binge. It was his one drying out day of the week, and so he probably spent it writing as well as cleaning up the accumulated chaos of the past week. One thing he definitely did was listen to a radio documentary on the legendary L.A. Rock band the Doors which he'd taped some weeks or perhaps months earlier.
    He especially savoured When the Music's Over from what was then one of his favourite albums, Strange Days, released in the wake of the Summer of Love on his 12th birthday, 7 October 1967. This apocalyptic epic with its unearthly screams and ecstatically discordant guitar solo seemed to him about living in the shadow of death, beckoning death, mocking death, defying death.
    He powerfully identified with the Doors' gifted singer Jim Morrison...who'd been drawn as a very young man to poets of darkly prophetic intensity, such as Blake, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Artaud. As well as those of the Beat Generation, who were themselves to a degree children of the - largely French - Romantic so-called accursed poets, whose works have the power to change lives, as they surely did Morrison's.


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    Thu, Feb 28th - 12:35PM

    Seven Chapter from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Six(a)



    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Six(a)



    David Cristiansen returned to Leftfield College in the autumn of 1984, and it may be that it was soon after this that his recent past started haunting him for the first time. After all, was it not only a few years previously he'd known legends of sport and the cinema, mythical figures of the theatre, blue bloods and patricians, and they'd been kind, generous of spirit to this nonentity from the outer suburbs. Now he was nearly 30, with a raft of opportunities behind him, and a future which looked less likely than ever to provide him with the fame he still ached for with all his soul.
    At first he lived off-campus, thinking it might be fun to coast during his final year as some kind of enigma freshly returned from Paris. But before long, he desperately missed being part of the social hub of the college, even though this was a virtual impossibility for a forgotten student in his fourth year.
    His time as one of Leftfield's leading prodigies had long passed, and other, younger whizz kids had come to the fore since his departure for Paris. They included the handsome young blond whom his long-time friend and champion Ariana described as being some kind of new edition of himself, due perhaps to the incredible diversity of his gifts. The first David saw of him, he was playing Gorgibus in Molière's Les Précieusesridicules, a part Ariana had originally earmarked for David, but he turned it down. The young man would ultimately find superstardom as comedian and character actor, and far more besides, while David persisted in the sweet, safe obscurity where he remains to this day.
    He read incessantly throughout the year for the sheer pleasure of doing so. For example, while Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh was a compulsory part of the drama course, there was no need for him to wade through O'Neill, the massive two-part biography of the playwright by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, but that didn't stop him.
    He made this descent into the depths of O'Neill's complex psyche at a time when he himself was starting to drink during the day at Leftfield. While his first can of extra strong lager would often be opened at breakfast time, he'd wait until the afternoon to get seriously hammered in the company of close friends. Such as Paul, from Playing with Fire, and Alastair, a science student who shared his passion for the dark romanticism of the Doors and Peter Gabriel.
    Paul was still trying to persuade him to join forces with him against an indifferent world, he with his writing and David with his acting, but for reasons best known to himself, he wasn't playing ball. Paul had always sensed something really special in David, which was variously described as energy, intensity, charisma, but for all the praise he received from Paul and others, he didn't seem to have a very high opinion of himself.
    It's possible that while he possessed the vast ego of the narcissist who requires constant attention and approval, he somehow also suffered from low self-esteem, which might indicate that he was a sufferer from actual Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whatever the case, he was going through one of his showily perverse phases, affecting a world weariness he simply didn't have at 30, but which upset and alienated a really good friend. And it wasn't long before Paul was out of his life forever, leaving him to stew in his precious pseudo-cynicism:
    "What an appalling attitude," he'd told him, and he was right on the money.
    His principal final year tutor was Dr Elizabeth Lang, and subject of study, the works of literary genius André Gide. And so he came to closely examine such Gidian characters as the urbaneMénalque from The Immoralist, who encourages the protagonist Michel to embrace Nietzschian individualism...the feral Lafcadio from The Vatican Cellars, who commits a crime of terrible cruelty simply for the sake of doing so...and the mysterious Comte de Passavent from The Counterfeiters, his only novel according to his own definition of the term.
    And in later years, he'd recall actually mentioning a particular instance of Michel's amorality to Dr Lang with what was relish pure and simple. Oh, how much he'd changed!
    But far from being a mere Decadent, Gide was the deeply conflicted product of a middle-class Protestant upbringing whose first work, The Notebooks of André Walter, was an anatomisation of Christian self-abnegation based on his troubled love for his devout cousin Madeleine, who went on to be his wife, a theme he would enlarge upon in Straight is the Gate.
    And a special favourite of David's by Gide was the novella Isabelle, which appealed to his softer, more romantic side. Written in 1911, it's the tale of a young student, Gerard Lacase, who stays for a time at a Manor house in Normandy inhabited by two ancient aristocratic families in order to look over their library for research purposes. And while there, becomes bewitched by the portrait of a beautiful young woman, only to discover that its model, the eponymous Isabelle, is now a hard, embittered individual entirely distinct from the lovely vision in the miniature.
    By the same token, his favourite ever play by O'Neill was another story of hopeless love, A Moon for the Misbegotten, written in 1947.
    Its leading character is based on Eugene's tragic yet infinitely romantic elder brother Jamie. And David became fascinated by him; and read all about him in the massive biography by the Gelbs.
    Blessed at birth with charm, intellect and beauty, he was one of Father Edward Sorin's most favoured princes while part of the Minim Department of Notre Dame University, Indiana. And so apparently destined for a glittering future as a Catholic gentleman of exquisite breeding and learning. He was also potentially a very fine writer, although he only left a handful of poems and essays behind; and the owner of a beautiful speaking voice which ensured him work as an actor for a time alongside his father James. His greatest legacy, however, is Jamie Tyrone, the brilliant yet troubled charmer who haunts two of his brother's masterpieces with the infinite sorrow of promise unfulfilled.
    David left Leftfield for good in the summer of 1985, and discovered soon afterwards that he had achieved a lower second BA degree in French and Drama.
    His first employment was as a deliverer of novelty telegrams, a job which brought him into many potentially hazardous situations, but which for him, was worth the risk, as he was getting well paid to show off and party, two of his favourite occupations at the time...but it was an unusual way of life for a man of thirty.
    What he really wanted was the immortality provided by fame, and he didn't care whether this came through acting, music or literature, or any other means for that matter. But until his big break came, he was content to feed his addiction to attention through the novelty telegrams industry. He evidently had no deep desire to leave anything behind by way of children, nor for any career other than one liable to project him to international renown. How then did he end up as a PGCE student at Coverton College, Cambridge in the autumn?
    The truth is he'd yielded to family pressure to provide himself with the safety net that's doubtless been advocated for centuries as a sensible if less romantic alternative to penury by the concerned parents of struggling artists while being despised - as a rule - by the artists themselves. For was it not the great singer-songwriter Nick Drake who said it was the last thing he wanted when it was suggested to him by his father Rodney?
    For David's part, he was so unhappy about having to go to Cambridge that just days before he was due to start there, he arranged to audition for a Jazz Funk band, and was all set to sing The Chinese Way by Level 42 and another tune in that then fashionable genre, but he never made it; because late and desperately drunk, he simply threw in the towel and resigned himself to Cambridge.
    From the time he arrived in the beautiful medieval university city of Cambridge, he was made to feel most welcome and wanted, and made some wonderful friends at Coverton itself; such as Donovan Joye, a most gracious poet and actor from the little town of Downham Market in Norfolk, with whom he was almost inseparable for a time. As well as Dale Slater, a singer-songwriter of melancholy genius from Yeovil in south Somerset who eventually went on to record both as a solo artist and group member in the London of the late 1980s and early to mid '90s at a time the neo-psychedelia he embraced was thriving. And stunning redhead Clarissa Catto, a budding professional actress from a vast sprawling area to the west of London whoseprincipaleponymoustownofSlough is perhaps most famous for having inspired a ten-stanza poem by much-loved former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1937.
    When he made his first appearance at the Cambridge Community College in what may have been Arbury in the northernmost reaches of the city where he was due to begin his period of Teaching Practice the following January, the pupils reacted to him as if he was some kind of visiting movie or Rock star. His TP would have been a breeze. Everything was falling into place for him at Cambridge, and he was offered several golden chances to succeed as an actor within its hallowed confines.
    Towards the end of the first term, the then president of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club had gone out of his way to ask David and Donovan to appear in the sole production he was preparing to mark his year-long tenure. He was a Coverton man, and so clearly wanted to give a couple of his fellow students a break after having seen them perform a couple of Donovan's satirical songs for the club.
    This was a privilege almost without measure, given that since its inception Footlights has nurtured the talents of Cecil Beaton, Jonathan Miller, Germaine Greer, David Frost, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Lawrie and Sacha Baron Cohen among many others. David could have been added to that list.
    As if this opportunity weren't enough to persuade him to stay put, a young undergraduate, renowned for the high quality of the plays he produced personally asked him to feature in one of his productions during the Lent Term. This after seeing him interpret the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie some time before Christmas. Someone then told him that if this young man took an interest in you, you were pretty well made as an actor at Cambridge. What more did he want? For Spielberg himself to be in the audience and discover him?
    In his defence, though, he did feel trapped by the course, and was finding it heavy going. In order to pass, you had to spend a full year as a teacher after completion of the basic PGCE. That meant it would be two years before he was free again to call himself an actor and work as such. It just seemed an awfully long time, when in fact it wasn't at all, and two years after quitting Cambridge he was even further away from his dream than when he'd started off.
    The truth is he left Coverton for no good reason, and there are certain verses from Maud Muller, by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, could be said to be most applicable with respect to his decision to do so, which came to haunt him in later years:
    "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'it might have been'."
    Still, within a matter of hours of the start of the Lent Term of 1987, he'd vanished, disappeared into the night in the company of a close friend he'd wheedled into helping him out.
    Once he was free, he set about the task of resuming his career, sporadically commuting to London from a semi-rural village 8 miles north of Portsmouth where he was resident at the time; although most days he achieved little. While it was music rather than acting he was interested in at the time, not that it ever really mattered to how he became famous, just so long as he did.
    He duly auditioned for a series of bands, such as the Jazz-Funk outfit from what may have been Croydon, and the Rock and Roll revival band from Pompey itself; but none of them took to him. And highlighted hair and dinky twin ear studs could hardly done him any favours, although by around about the beginning of '87 he'd started sporting a two-tone parka worn with tight grey corduroy jeans in an attempt to better blend in with his surroundings. Which is to say in contrast to such nostalgic sartorial items as '50s style gold lamé waistcoat, cuffed drainpipe jeans, and black suede winkle pickers with side buckles, which he'd only latterlyfavoured.
    However, he did succeed in impressing the artistic director of a Ladbroke Grove pub theatre who remained a close friend of his well into the 2000s. And with whom he worked soon after returning to London - which he did in the summer of 1987 to a minor flurry of creative activity - first for a play at the aforesaid theatre; and then a film pilot featuring the lavishly gifted American artist Ray Shell.
    1987 was also the year he got seriously involved in walk-on work for television and the cinema, although he wasn't entirely new to the game. For example, he briefly features as a Salvation Army bandsman in a scene from The Mirror Crack'd, directed by Guy Hamilton in 1980 from an Agatha Christie novel entitled The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.
    This took place at a typical English village fête set in the 1950s, and was being graced first by Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Sir Charles and his fourth wife the former Oona O'Neill; then by legendary Hollywood icon Elisabeth Taylor.
    Also, in Charles Jarrott's miniseries Poor Little Rich Girl, he can be seen gesticulating as legendary crooner Rudy Vallée in a party scene featuring Farrah Fawcett as Barbara Hutton, and Burl Ives as her grandfather F.W Woolworth.
    But these were just isolated episodes. For from around 1987, he took the work more seriously, first in the sitcom Life Without George, written by Penny Croft and Val Hudson and featuring Simon Cadell and Carol Royle; and then in the long-running police series The Bill, in which he sporadically appeared as a crime scene photographer for several years.
    Soon after he'd finished his work for Life Without George, he started rehearsals at the justly renowned Gate Theatre in London's Notting Hill for the world première of The Audition by Catalonian playwright Rudolf Sirera - with English translation by John London - under the direction of Ariana.
    While it's likely to have been originally set in pre-revolutionary France, Ariana updated it to the late 19th Century, possibly the Paris of Huysmans' notorious Against the Grain. And it involves the kidnapping of an actor Gabriel De Beaumont by an unnamed Marquis played by Steven Dykes, who goes on to sadistically toy with his victim before finallymurderinghim.
    It received some fair reviews...with David being singled out for some praise in the London Times among other periodicals.
    But rather than capitalise on this modest success, he decided to start work instead as a teacher at the Tellegen School of English in London's Oxford Street. And he did so at the behest of his closest friend, Huw Owen, the Swansea native who'd served as the model for Robert Fitzroy-Square in their Silverhill band, Z Cars, but who was now working at Tellegen's. Besides which, he'd already undergone a week's training with them and been offered a job.
    Thus, he entered into one of the most purely blissful period of his entire life, even while his theatrical career suffered. Although in August 1988 and at Ariana's behest, he served as MC for a week-long benefit for the Gate Theatre called Captain Kirk's Midsummer Log in the persona of one Mr Denmark 1979, a comic monstrosity created for him by Ariana; also providing several impressions.
    Among those appearing on the bill were comedienne Jo Brand in her then incarnation of The Sea Monster, satirical impressionist Rory Bremner, Renaissance Man Patrick Marber, initially a stand-up comic, but best known today as an award-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and maverick singer-songwriter John Otway.
    The Denmark character went down so well at the benefit that David wrote an entire show around him on the premiss that winning a Scandinavian male beauty contest in 1979 had so altered the balance of his mind that he'd since convinced himself he'd been at the forefront of pretty well every major cultural development since the dawn of Pop, only to be cravenly ripped off by Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Punks, Rappers and so on. It premièred to considerable audience enthusiasm - with Gracia McGrath serving as an effervescent MC - on his 33rd birthday at a new variety venue called Club Shout.
    And for David, being a Tellegen teacher was the perfect dream job...providing him with a social life on a plate, as well as enough money to finance the hours he spent each evening in the Champion public house on Wells Street, W.1. For once the final classes had ended some time after 7.30, student and teacher alike would meet at the Champion to drink and talk and laugh and do as they wished until closing time. And David himself would usually leave around 10.30 to catch the last train home from Waterloo, although, sometimes he'd miss it and have to catch a later one which might see him stranded deep in the Surrey countryside. At other times, there'd be a party to go to, or theTellegen Discoat Jacqueline's Night Club in nearby Soho.
    Most of the teachers socialised with their own kind, while David preferred the company of the students, although this situation was to become modified by 1990, when his friends were being chosen from among both the teaching and student bodies. But at night, it would be almost impossible to extricate him from his circle of favourites from Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Poland, France...fact which proved irksome to his good friends, Stan and Neddy, at a certain stage in his short-lived career at Tellegen's.
    For Stan, a Tellegen teacher and resting actor like David, and Neddy, a young student from the great city of São Paolo in Brazil, were trying to organise rehearsals for a band they were supposed to be getting together. But thanks to David's dilatory attitude, this never happened despite some early promise, as Neddy was a gifted guitarist, and Stan a potentially good front man.
    But David continued to discard precious opportunities as if they were so much stinking refuse...little suspecting that he was shoring up the kind of heartbreak that stems from unfulfilled promise, and which caused Jamie Tyrone to quote from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in A Long Day's Journey into Night, while clearly describing himself:
    "Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
    I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell..."
    As well as the perpetual party lifestyle, he spent his spare cash on clothes, cassettes, books, and of course, rent. That is, during those brief few months he spent as a tenant in Hanwell, West London at the house of a friend of his father's from the London session world, Dai Thomas.
    Dai was a slight, bearded, bespectacled Welsh fiddler of the utmost sweetness of nature who, always nattily dressed, lived life close to the edge but with what seemed to David to be with the absolute minimum of effort and maximum self-possession, which made him very cool in his eyes; and they became good friends.
    He also spent several hundreds of pounds being initiated into the art of self-hypnosis by a Harley Street doctor who specialised in hypnotherapy and nutritional medicine. This, in the hope of finding a solution not just to his alcoholism, but the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to which he was increasingly prey in the late 1980s.
    Yet, despite the drinking and the OCD, he was not an unhappy man, far from it, was full of joie de vivre, in fact, and subject to elation; but he was also prone to fits of intense depression. And it was hard for him to accept he wouldn't be returning to Tellegen's in 1990. But it was his own fault, because he'd left without warning early in the year...and then decided he wanted to return, despite having refused an offer to do so from the school itself some weeks theretofore.
    So, reluctantly delivered from a job he genuinely loved, he revived his acting career thanks once again to the influence of his dear friend Ariana.
    She suggested he might like to play Feste for a production of Twelfth Night, to be staged in the summer at the Jacksons Lane theatre in North London. And so after a successful audition for the director, Sandy Stein, he set about re-learning Feste's lines, and arranging the songs according to the original primitive melodies.
    Yet, if the play itself was a joy to be involved in, the same can't be said for the train journeys to and from Highgate for rehearsals. For it was during these lengthy trips across the capital that David started feeling the need to inure himself as never before against what he saw as nocturnal London's ever-present aura of menace.
    It's likely that years of hard living were finally starting to take their toll on his nervous system. For in addition to alcohol and nicotine, he'd been ingesting industrial strength doses of caffeine for years, initially in tablet form, and then in the shape of the coffee cocktails he liked to swill one after the other before afternoon classes at Tellegen's.
    This may go some way towards explaining the sheer paranoia which ultimately caused him to start drinking on the way to rehearsals, and then for the first time in his life as a professional actor, during rehearsals. However, he promised Sandy he'd not touch a drop for the actual performances, and was as good as his word. Although each performance was succeeded by some serious partying on his part...with most of the cast members joining him in the revels.
    And his hyperkinetic performance was well-received, with one beautifully spoken Englishwoman even going so far as to tell him he was the finest Feste she'd ever seen...and what a pity she wasn't a passing casting director. But then serendipitous incidents of this kind may have happened to some people...but not apparently to poor David Cristiansen.
    Later in 1990, he began another PGCE course, this time at the former West London College of Further Education based in East Twickenham, taking up residence in nearby Isleworth.
    He began quite promisingly, fitting in well and making good friends, and as might be expected, excelling in drama and physical education. And he was abstinent by day, while on those rare occasions he did drink, it was just a question of a pint or so with lunch.
    He'd mentally determined to complete the course, and yet on the verge of his period of teaching practice, found himself to be desperately behind in his preparation. And so provisionally removed himself in order to decide whether it was worth his staying on or not.
    In the event he chose to quit, but rather than return to his parents' home, he stayed on in Isleworth to rekindle his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. At the same time, he continued to work as a walk-on artist, something he'd been doing on and off for over a decade. But specialising as a crime scene photographer for a long-running police series with its HQ in Merton, South London.
    He also became half of a musical duo formed with a slim young Mancunian with short reddish blond hair and brilliant light green or blue eyes who rejoiced in the name of Maxie Coburg, although his true surname reflected his roots in Northern England. And while working as a singer-songwriter at the time, Max eventually evolved into a bona fide Renaissance Man, and not just as singer and musician, but actor, writer, performer, impressionist, film maker and radical thinker.
    They began as buskers in Leicester Square, before settling down for rehearsals in the hope of getting some gigs, their repertoire a mixture of Rock and Roll and Motown classics, as well as a host of originals, mostly written by Max. But with one or two contributions by David.
    He wanted to call the band Venus Xtravaganza, but in the end, they settled for Max's choice of The Unknowns, that is if they ever called anything at all. And unknown is what they remained which for poor David was simply business as usual.
    Then early in '91, he spent a few weeks in the beautiful seaside town and major London overspill area of Hastings, in an effort to pass a course in teaching English as a foreign language.
    To this end he worked like a Trojan; but he was struggling terribly, tormented by OCD and its endless demands on his time and energies in the shape of rituals both physical and mental. And while he didn't drink at all during the day, at night he was sometimes so stoned he was incoherent.
    Predictably perhaps, he was failed; and when he asked the authorities if they might reconsider, he was informed that their decision was final. It was a bit of a let-down for him for sure, but he'd loved his time in Hastings, even while continuing the search for some kind of spiritual solution to his mental troubles which led him to a "church" which was far, far from the kind he'd come ultimately to seek out.
    At least part of the reason for his torment may be provided by the following extracts from a letter his beloved mother wrote him during a fascinating but fruitless sojourn:
    "...I had a chance to look at your library...I could not believe what I saw. These very strange books, beyond my comprehension, most of them, and I thought what a dissipation of a good mind that thought it right to read such matters...I feel very deeply that you have up to your present state, almost ruined your mind. Your happy, smiling face has left you, your humorous nature, ditto, your spirited state of mind, your cheerful, sunny, exuberant well-being, all gone. Too much thought given to the unhappiness and sad state of others (often those you can not help, in any way)...I've said recently that I am convinced that anyone can get oneself into a state of agitation or distress or anxiety by thinking or reading about, or witnessing unpleasant things, and the only thing to do is to,asmuchaspossible,avoidsuchmatters,to not let them get hold in the mind. Your fertile mind has led you astray. Why, and how?"
    How many millions of mothers over the course of the centuries have asked this of offspring who've been inexplicably drawn to the shadow lands of life only to lose their way back to sanity? Only God knows. Most of course, successfully make the journey back before settling into a normal mode of life, but the danger of becoming lost is always there, especially for those who remain therein far beyond adolescence. Eternal adolescence being arguably one of the prime features of our era, facilitated by its exaltation of youth, which is an intrinsic part of its pre-eminent art form, Rock Music. And while there are those who'd insist that far fewer young people today are in thrall to the dark glamour of self-destructivegeniusthaninpreviousRock eras, the world view still very much exists.
    For David's part, he came ultimately to view Rock as more than just a simple Pop music derived from various Folk genres, so much as an enormously influential subculture, even a religion, and to contend that those who grew to maturity in the sixties were spiritually affected not just by the music but the cultural changes brought about by the Rock revolution.
    He'd insist that from quitting formal education aged 16, he was in thrall to a cult of instant gratification that had been growing progressively more powerful throughout the West since about 1955.
    After all, he'd contend, he failed to build a future for himself, in terms of a profession, a family, financial security, and so on, having once viewed all these with an indifference verging on contempt. And it hurt him deeply to realise the extent to which he'd sabotaged his life with such a negative identity.
    The following summer of 1992, he made another attempt at passing the TEFL course...this time at a college set in one of London's most beautiful parks. But he was drinking on pretty well a daily basis, and even though he worked hard and gave some good classes, there was no way on earth he was going to pass.
    Still, it was a fabulous summer, and much of it he spent in a state of manic hyperactivity. Bliss it was to stride in the warm suburban evening sun to his local station of Hampton Court...perhaps with the Orb's eerie Blue Room playing again and again in his mind...on his way to yet another long night of ecstatic insensibility. He could have passed out on any one of these wild nights and found himself in Hell; that is the terrifying truth of the matter.
    The romantic decadence associated with the eighties was no longer even remotely current, and there was a new spirit as he saw it, a kind of mystic techno-bohemianism perhaps, which appeared to him to be everywhere in the early nineties.
    And he sought to visit as many clubs and venues as he could where it was being celebrated, even though in the event he only ever went to one, Cyber Seed in Covent Garden, which was poorly attended and only lasted a short time.
    Later on in this final beautiful lethal summer of intoxication, and soon after appearing as Stefano in The Tempest at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, he set out on yet another PGCE course; this one bearing the suffix "fe" for Further Education.
    Its purpose was to train himself and his fellow students to teach pupils in sixth form colleges and other further education establishments. And while its base was the University of New Eltham in the tough outer suburbs of South East London, he divided his time between New Eltham, and Twickenham College in the leafy Royal Borough of Richmond on Thames.
    While on top of all this study, there were the gigs with Maxie...the novelty telegrams...and who knows what else...and he loved every second of a frenetic lifestyle lived in total ecstatic defiance of the wholesale ruin of mind, body, soul, spirit...
    The period embracing the autumn of 1992 and the first few weeks of winter may well have been the most debauched of David's entire existence.
    He'd - typically - rise early during the week, possibly around six, before preparing himself for the day ahead with a bottle of wine, usually fortified; then he'd keep his units topped up throughout the day with vodka or gin, taking regular swigs from the miniatures he liked to have with him at all times. Some evenings he'd spend in central London, others with his new friends from the college, and they were a close and pretty wild crowd for a while. There were times in town when he couldn't keep the booze down, so he'd order a king-sized cola from McDonald's, which he'd then lace with spirits before cautiously sipping from it through a straw.
    He was a euphoric drunk and so almost never unpleasant...but he was unpredictable...a true Dionysian who'd cry out on a British Rail train in the middle of the afternoon, causing passengers to flinch with alarm...or perform a wild disjointed Karate kick into thin air on a crowded London street. One afternoon he tore his clothes to shreds after having arrived too late for an audition and a barman who served him later on in the day asked him:
    "You bin in a fight then?"
    And then there was the shameful night at Waterloo station - or was it Liverpool Street? - that he was so incapacitated by drink that he had to be escorted across the main concourse to his train by one of a colony of rough sleepers that were a feature of mainline stations in those days.
    However, all these insane incidents came to a head one night in early 1993 in an Indian restaurant in Hampton Court close to the Surrey-London border. He'd been dining there with two female friends when, suddenly feeling like pure death, he turned to the lady who was next to him and asked:
    "Do I look as bad as I feel?
    As soon as she'd told him that indeed he did, he got up from the table, walked a few paces and then collapsed as if stone dead in the middle of the restaurant. He was then carried bodily out into the fresh night air by two or three Indian waiters, one of whom set about shocking some life back into him by flicking ice cold water in his face.
    "Don't give up," he pleaded, his voice betraying true concern...and in time thanks to him some semblance of life returned, and David was well enough to be driven home.
    Yet, within two days he was drinking as heavily as before, continuing to do so virtually around the clock until the weekend. He then spent Saturday evening with his close friend from the restaurant; and at some point in the morning of what was almost certainly Sunday the 17th of January 1993, after having drunk solidly all night, he asked her to fill a long glass with neat gin and each sip took him further and further into the desired state of blissful forgetfulness.
    He awoke exhilarated, which was normal for him following a lengthy binge. It was his one drying out day of the week, and so he probably spent it writing as well as cleaning up the accumulated chaos of the past week. One thing he definitely did was listen to a radio documentary on the legendary L.A. Rock band the Doors which he'd taped some weeks or perhaps months earlier.
    He especially savoured When the Music's Over from what was then one of his favourite albums, Strange Days, released in the wake of the Summer of Love on his 12th birthday, 7 October 1967. This apocalyptic epic with its unearthly screams and ecstatically discordant guitar solo seemed to him about living in the shadow of death, beckoning death, mocking death, defying death.
    He powerfully identified with the Doors' gifted singer Jim Morrison...who'd been drawn as a very young man to poets of darkly prophetic intensity, such as Blake, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Artaud. As well as those of the Beat Generation, who were themselves to a degree children of the - largely French - Romantic so-called accursed poets, whose works have the power to change lives, as they surely did Morrison's.
    His philosophy of life was clearly informed by Blake, who wrote of "the road of excess" leading to "the palace of wisdom." While his hell raising persona came to a degree from Rimbaud, who extolled the virtues of "a long, immense and systematic derangement of all the senses" as an

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    Thu, Feb 28th - 12:33PM

    Seven Chapter from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Six(a)



    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Six(a)



    David Cristiansen returned to Leftfield College in the autumn of 1984, and it may be that it was soon after this that his recent past started haunting him for the first time. After all, was it not only a few years previously he'd known legends of sport and the cinema, mythical figures of the theatre, blue bloods and patricians, and they'd been kind, generous of spirit to this nonentity from the outer suburbs. Now he was nearly 30, with a raft of opportunities behind him, and a future which looked less likely than ever to provide him with the fame he still ached for with all his soul.
    At first he lived off-campus, thinking it might be fun to coast during his final year as some kind of enigma freshly returned from Paris. But before long, he desperately missed being part of the social hub of the college, even though this was a virtual impossibility for a forgotten student in his fourth year.
    His time as one of Leftfield's leading prodigies had long passed, and other, younger whizz kids had come to the fore since his departure for Paris. They included the handsome young blond whom his long-time friend and champion Ariana described as being some kind of new edition of himself, due perhaps to the incredible diversity of his gifts. The first David saw of him, he was playing Gorgibus in Molière's Les Précieusesridicules, a part Ariana had originally earmarked for David, but he turned it down. The young man would ultimately find superstardom as comedian and character actor, and far more besides, while David persisted in the sweet, safe obscurity where he remains to this day.
    He read incessantly throughout the year for the sheer pleasure of doing so. For example, while Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh was a compulsory part of the drama course, there was no need for him to wade through O'Neill, the massive two-part biography of the playwright by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, but that didn't stop him.
    He made this descent into the depths of O'Neill's complex psyche at a time when he himself was starting to drink during the day at Leftfield. While his first can of extra strong lager would often be opened at breakfast time, he'd wait until the afternoon to get seriously hammered in the company of close friends. Such as Paul, from Playing with Fire, and Alastair, a science student who shared his passion for the dark romanticism of the Doors and Peter Gabriel.
    Paul was still trying to persuade him to join forces with him against an indifferent world, he with his writing and David with his acting, but for reasons best known to himself, he wasn't playing ball. Paul had always sensed something really special in David, which was variously described as energy, intensity, charisma, but for all the praise he received from Paul and others, he didn't seem to have a very high opinion of himself.
    It's possible that while he possessed the vast ego of the narcissist who requires constant attention and approval, he somehow also suffered from low self-esteem, which might indicate that he was a sufferer from actual Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whatever the case, he was going through one of his showily perverse phases, affecting a world weariness he simply didn't have at 30, but which upset and alienated a really good friend. And it wasn't long before Paul was out of his life forever, leaving him to stew in his precious pseudo-cynicism:
    "What an appalling attitude," he'd told him, and he was right on the money.
    His principal final year tutor was Dr Elizabeth Lang, and subject of study, the works of literary genius André Gide. And so he came to closely examine such Gidian characters as the urbaneMénalque from The Immoralist, who encourages the protagonist Michel to embrace Nietzschian individualism...the feral Lafcadio from The Vatican Cellars, who commits a crime of terrible cruelty simply for the sake of doing so...and the mysterious Comte de Passavent from The Counterfeiters, his only novel according to his own definition of the term.
    And in later years, he'd recall actually mentioning a particular instance of Michel's amorality to Dr Lang with what was relish pure and simple. Oh, how much he'd changed!
    But far from being a mere Decadent, Gide was the deeply conflicted product of a middle-class Protestant upbringing whose first work, The Notebooks of André Walter, was an anatomisation of Christian self-abnegation based on his troubled love for his devout cousin Madeleine, who went on to be his wife, a theme he would enlarge upon in Straight is the Gate.
    And a special favourite of David's by Gide was the novella Isabelle, which appealed to his softer, more romantic side. Written in 1911, it's the tale of a young student, Gerard Lacase, who stays for a time at a Manor house in Normandy inhabited by two ancient aristocratic families in order to look over their library for research purposes. And while there, becomes bewitched by the portrait of a beautiful young woman, only to discover that its model, the eponymous Isabelle, is now a hard, embittered individual entirely distinct from the lovely vision in the miniature.
    By the same token, his favourite ever play by O'Neill was another story of hopeless love, A Moon for the Misbegotten, written in 1947.
    Its leading character is based on Eugene's tragic yet infinitely romantic elder brother Jamie. And David became fascinated by him; and read all about him in the massive biography by the Gelbs.
    Blessed at birth with charm, intellect and beauty, he was one of Father Edward Sorin's most favoured princes while part of the Minim Department of Notre Dame University, Indiana. And so apparently destined for a glittering future as a Catholic gentleman of exquisite breeding and learning. He was also potentially a very fine writer, although he only left a handful of poems and essays behind; and the owner of a beautiful speaking voice which ensured him work as an actor for a time alongside his father James. His greatest legacy, however, is Jamie Tyrone, the brilliant yet troubled charmer who haunts two of his brother's masterpieces with the infinite sorrow of promise unfulfilled.
    David left Leftfield for good in the summer of 1985, and discovered soon afterwards that he had achieved a lower second BA degree in French and Drama.
    His first employment was as a deliverer of novelty telegrams, a job which brought him into many potentially hazardous situations, but which for him, was worth the risk, as he was getting well paid to show off and party, two of his favourite occupations at the time...but it was an unusual way of life for a man of thirty.
    What he really wanted was the immortality provided by fame, and he didn't care whether this came through acting, music or literature, or any other means for that matter. But until his big break came, he was content to feed his addiction to attention through the novelty telegrams industry. He evidently had no deep desire to leave anything behind by way of children, nor for any career other than one liable to project him to international renown. How then did he end up as a PGCE student at Coverton College, Cambridge in the autumn?
    The truth is he'd yielded to family pressure to provide himself with the safety net that's doubtless been advocated for centuries as a sensible if less romantic alternative to penury by the concerned parents of struggling artists while being despised - as a rule - by the artists themselves. For was it not the great singer-songwriter Nick Drake who said it was the last thing he wanted when it was suggested to him by his father Rodney?
    For David's part, he was so unhappy about having to go to Cambridge that just days before he was due to start there, he arranged to audition for a Jazz Funk band, and was all set to sing The Chinese Way by Level 42 and another tune in that then fashionable genre, but he never made it; because late and desperately drunk, he simply threw in the towel and resigned himself to Cambridge.
    From the time he arrived in the beautiful medieval university city of Cambridge, he was made to feel most welcome and wanted, and made some wonderful friends at Coverton itself; such as Donovan Joye, a most gracious poet and actor from the little town of Downham Market in Norfolk, with whom he was almost inseparable for a time. As well as Dale Slater, a singer-songwriter of melancholy genius from Yeovil in south Somerset who eventually went on to record both as a solo artist and group member in the London of the late 1980s and early to mid '90s at a time the neo-psychedelia he embraced was thriving. And stunning redhead Clarissa Catto, a budding professional actress from a vast sprawling area to the west of London whoseprincipaleponymoustownofSlough is perhaps most famous for having inspired a ten-stanza poem by much-loved former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1937.
    When he made his first appearance at the Cambridge Community College in what may have been Arbury in the northernmost reaches of the city where he was due to begin his period of Teaching Practice the following January, the pupils reacted to him as if he was some kind of visiting movie or Rock star. His TP would have been a breeze. Everything was falling into place for him at Cambridge, and he was offered several golden chances to succeed as an actor within its hallowed confines.
    Towards the end of the first term, the then president of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club had gone out of his way to ask David and Donovan to appear in the sole production he was preparing to mark his year-long tenure. He was a Coverton man, and so clearly wanted to give a couple of his fellow students a break after having seen them perform a couple of Donovan's satirical songs for the club.
    This was a privilege almost without measure, given that since its inception Footlights has nurtured the talents of Cecil Beaton, Jonathan Miller, Germaine Greer, David Frost, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Lawrie and Sacha Baron Cohen among many others. David could have been added to that list.
    As if this opportunity weren't enough to persuade him to stay put, a young undergraduate, renowned for the high quality of the plays he produced personally asked him to feature in one of his productions during the Lent Term. This after seeing him interpret the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie some time before Christmas. Someone then told him that if this young man took an interest in you, you were pretty well made as an actor at Cambridge. What more did he want? For Spielberg himself to be in the audience and discover him?
    In his defence, though, he did feel trapped by the course, and was finding it heavy going. In order to pass, you had to spend a full year as a teacher after completion of the basic PGCE. That meant it would be two years before he was free again to call himself an actor and work as such. It just seemed an awfully long time, when in fact it wasn't at all, and two years after quitting Cambridge he was even further away from his dream than when he'd started off.
    The truth is he left Coverton for no good reason, and there are certain verses from Maud Muller, by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, could be said to be most applicable with respect to his decision to do so, which came to haunt him in later years:
    "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'it might have been'."
    Still, within a matter of hours of the start of the Lent Term of 1987, he'd vanished, disappeared into the night in the company of a close friend he'd wheedled into helping him out.
    Once he was free, he set about the task of resuming his career, sporadically commuting to London from a semi-rural village 8 miles north of Portsmouth where he was resident at the time; although most days he achieved little. While it was music rather than acting he was interested in at the time, not that it ever really mattered to how he became famous, just so long as he did.
    He duly auditioned for a series of bands, such as the Jazz-Funk outfit from what may have been Croydon, and the Rock and Roll revival band from Pompey itself; but none of them took to him. And highlighted hair and dinky twin ear studs could hardly done him any favours, although by around about the beginning of '87 he'd started sporting a two-tone parka worn with tight grey corduroy jeans in an attempt to better blend in with his surroundings. Which is to say in contrast to such nostalgic sartorial items as '50s style gold lamé waistcoat, cuffed drainpipe jeans, and black suede winkle pickers with side buckles, which he'd only latterlyfavoured.
    However, he did succeed in impressing the artistic director of a Ladbroke Grove pub theatre who remained a close friend of his well into the 2000s. And with whom he worked soon after returning to London - which he did in the summer of 1987 to a minor flurry of creative activity - first for a play at the aforesaid theatre; and then a film pilot featuring the lavishly gifted American artist Ray Shell.
    1987 was also the year he got seriously involved in walk-on work for television and the cinema, although he wasn't entirely new to the game. For example, he briefly features as a Salvation Army bandsman in a scene from The Mirror Crack'd, directed by Guy Hamilton in 1980 from an Agatha Christie novel entitled The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.
    This took place at a typical English village fête set in the 1950s, and was being graced first by Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Sir Charles and his fourth wife the former Oona O'Neill; then by legendary Hollywood icon Elisabeth Taylor.
    Also, in Charles Jarrott's miniseries Poor Little Rich Girl, he can be seen gesticulating as legendary crooner Rudy Vallée in a party scene featuring Farrah Fawcett as Barbara Hutton, and Burl Ives as her grandfather F.W Woolworth.
    But these were just isolated episodes. For from around 1987, he took the work more seriously, first in the sitcom Life Without George, written by Penny Croft and Val Hudson and featuring Simon Cadell and Carol Royle; and then in the long-running police series The Bill, in which he sporadically appeared as a crime scene photographer for several years.
    Soon after he'd finished his work for Life Without George, he started rehearsals at the justly renowned Gate Theatre in London's Notting Hill for the world première of The Audition by Catalonian playwright Rudolf Sirera - with English translation by John London - under the direction of Ariana.
    While it's likely to have been originally set in pre-revolutionary France, Ariana updated it to the late 19th Century, possibly the Paris of Huysmans' notorious Against the Grain. And it involves the kidnapping of an actor Gabriel De Beaumont by an unnamed Marquis played by Steven Dykes, who goes on to sadistically toy with his victim before finallymurderinghim.
    It received some fair reviews...with David being singled out for some praise in the London Times among other periodicals.
    But rather than capitalise on this modest success, he decided to start work instead as a teacher at the Tellegen School of English in London's Oxford Street. And he did so at the behest of his closest friend, Huw Owen, the Swansea native who'd served as the model for Robert Fitzroy-Square in their Silverhill band, Z Cars, but who was now working at Tellegen's. Besides which, he'd already undergone a week's training with them and been offered a job.
    Thus, he entered into one of the most purely blissful period of his entire life, even while his theatrical career suffered. Although in August 1988 and at Ariana's behest, he served as MC for a week-long benefit for the Gate Theatre called Captain Kirk's Midsummer Log in the persona of one Mr Denmark 1979, a comic monstrosity created for him by Ariana; also providing several impressions.
    Among those appearing on the bill were comedienne Jo Brand in her then incarnation of The Sea Monster, satirical impressionist Rory Bremner, Renaissance Man Patrick Marber, initially a stand-up comic, but best known today as an award-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and maverick singer-songwriter John Otway.
    The Denmark character went down so well at the benefit that David wrote an entire show around him on the premiss that winning a Scandinavian male beauty contest in 1979 had so altered the balance of his mind that he'd since convinced himself he'd been at the forefront of pretty well every major cultural development since the dawn of Pop, only to be cravenly ripped off by Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Punks, Rappers and so on. It premièred to considerable audience enthusiasm - with Gracia McGrath serving as an effervescent MC - on his 33rd birthday at a new variety venue called Club Shout.
    And for David, being a Tellegen teacher was the perfect dream job...providing him with a social life on a plate, as well as enough money to finance the hours he spent each evening in the Champion public house on Wells Street, W.1. For once the final classes had ended some time after 7.30, student and teacher alike would meet at the Champion to drink and talk and laugh and do as they wished until closing time. And David himself would usually leave around 10.30 to catch the last train home from Waterloo, although, sometimes he'd miss it and have to catch a later one which might see him stranded deep in the Surrey countryside. At other times, there'd be a party to go to, or theTellegen Discoat Jacqueline's Night Club in nearby Soho.
    Most of the teachers socialised with their own kind, while David preferred the company of the students, although this situation was to become modified by 1990, when his friends were being chosen from among both the teaching and student bodies. But at night, it would be almost impossible to extricate him from his circle of favourites from Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Poland, France...fact which proved irksome to his good friends, Stan and Neddy, at a certain stage in his short-lived career at Tellegen's.
    For Stan, a Tellegen teacher and resting actor like David, and Neddy, a young student from the great city of São Paolo in Brazil, were trying to organise rehearsals for a band they were supposed to be getting together. But thanks to David's dilatory attitude, this never happened despite some early promise, as Neddy was a gifted guitarist, and Stan a potentially good front man.
    But David continued to discard precious opportunities as if they were so much stinking refuse...little suspecting that he was shoring up the kind of heartbreak that stems from unfulfilled promise, and which caused Jamie Tyrone to quote from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in A Long Day's Journey into Night, while clearly describing himself:
    "Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
    I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell..."
    As well as the perpetual party lifestyle, he spent his spare cash on clothes, cassettes, books, and of course, rent. That is, during those brief few months he spent as a tenant in Hanwell, West London at the house of a friend of his father's from the London session world, Dai Thomas.
    Dai was a slight, bearded, bespectacled Welsh fiddler of the utmost sweetness of nature who, always nattily dressed, lived life close to the edge but with what seemed to David to be with the absolute minimum of effort and maximum self-possession, which made him very cool in his eyes; and they became good friends.
    He also spent several hundreds of pounds being initiated into the art of self-hypnosis by a Harley Street doctor who specialised in hypnotherapy and nutritional medicine. This, in the hope of finding a solution not just to his alcoholism, but the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to which he was increasingly prey in the late 1980s.
    Yet, despite the drinking and the OCD, he was not an unhappy man, far from it, was full of joie de vivre, in fact, and subject to elation; but he was also prone to fits of intense depression. And it was hard for him to accept he wouldn't be returning to Tellegen's in 1990. But it was his own fault, because he'd left without warning early in the year...and then decided he wanted to return, despite having refused an offer to do so from the school itself some weeks theretofore.
    So, reluctantly delivered from a job he genuinely loved, he revived his acting career thanks once again to the influence of his dear friend Ariana.
    She suggested he might like to play Feste for a production of Twelfth Night, to be staged in the summer at the Jacksons Lane theatre in North London. And so after a successful audition for the director, Sandy Stein, he set about re-learning Feste's lines, and arranging the songs according to the original primitive melodies.
    Yet, if the play itself was a joy to be involved in, the same can't be said for the train journeys to and from Highgate for rehearsals. For it was during these lengthy trips across the capital that David started feeling the need to inure himself as never before against what he saw as nocturnal London's ever-present aura of menace.
    It's likely that years of hard living were finally starting to take their toll on his nervous system. For in addition to alcohol and nicotine, he'd been ingesting industrial strength doses of caffeine for years, initially in tablet form, and then in the shape of the coffee cocktails he liked to swill one after the other before afternoon classes at Tellegen's.
    This may go some way towards explaining the sheer paranoia which ultimately caused him to start drinking on the way to rehearsals, and then for the first time in his life as a professional actor, during rehearsals. However, he promised Sandy he'd not touch a drop for the actual performances, and was as good as his word. Although each performance was succeeded by some serious partying on his part...with most of the cast members joining him in the revels.
    And his hyperkinetic performance was well-received, with one beautifully spoken Englishwoman even going so far as to tell him he was the finest Feste she'd ever seen...and what a pity she wasn't a passing casting director. But then serendipitous incidents of this kind may have happened to some people...but not apparently to poor David Cristiansen.
    Later in 1990, he began another PGCE course, this time at the former West London College of Further Education based in East Twickenham, taking up residence in nearby Isleworth.
    He began quite promisingly, fitting in well and making good friends, and as might be expected, excelling in drama and physical education. And he was abstinent by day, while on those rare occasions he did drink, it was just a question of a pint or so with lunch.
    He'd mentally determined to complete the course, and yet on the verge of his period of teaching practice, found himself to be desperately behind in his preparation. And so provisionally removed himself in order to decide whether it was worth his staying on or not.
    In the event he chose to quit, but rather than return to his parents' home, he stayed on in Isleworth to rekindle his career as a deliverer of novelty telegrams. At the same time, he continued to work as a walk-on artist, something he'd been doing on and off for over a decade. But specialising as a crime scene photographer for a long-running police series with its HQ in Merton, South London.
    He also became half of a musical duo formed with a slim young Mancunian with short reddish blond hair and brilliant light green or blue eyes who rejoiced in the name of Maxie Coburg, although his true surname reflected his roots in Northern England. And while working as a singer-songwriter at the time, Max eventually evolved into a bona fide Renaissance Man, and not just as singer and musician, but actor, writer, performer, impressionist, film maker and radical thinker.
    They began as buskers in Leicester Square, before settling down for rehearsals in the hope of getting some gigs, their repertoire a mixture of Rock and Roll and Motown classics, as well as a host of originals, mostly written by Max. But with one or two contributions by David.
    He wanted to call the band Venus Xtravaganza, but in the end, they settled for Max's choice of The Unknowns, that is if they ever called anything at all. And unknown is what they remained which for poor David was simply business as usual.
    Then early in '91, he spent a few weeks in the beautiful seaside town and major London overspill area of Hastings, in an effort to pass a course in teaching English as a foreign language.
    To this end he worked like a Trojan; but he was struggling terribly, tormented by OCD and its endless demands on his time and energies in the shape of rituals both physical and mental. And while he didn't drink at all during the day, at night he was sometimes so stoned he was incoherent.
    Predictably perhaps, he was failed; and when he asked the authorities if they might reconsider, he was informed that their decision was final. It was a bit of a let-down for him for sure, but he'd loved his time in Hastings, even while continuing the search for some kind of spiritual solution to his mental troubles which led him to a "church" which was far, far from the kind he'd come ultimately to seek out.
    At least part of the reason for his torment may be provided by the following extracts from a letter his beloved mother wrote him during a fascinating but fruitless sojourn:
    "...I had a chance to look at your library...I could not believe what I saw. These very strange books, beyond my comprehension, most of them, and I thought what a dissipation of a good mind that thought it right to read such matters...I feel very deeply that you have up to your present state, almost ruined your mind. Your happy, smiling face has left you, your humorous nature, ditto, your spirited state of mind, your cheerful, sunny, exuberant well-being, all gone. Too much thought given to the unhappiness and sad state of others (often those you can not help, in any way)...I've said recently that I am convinced that anyone can get oneself into a state of agitation or distress or anxiety by thinking or reading about, or witnessing unpleasant things, and the only thing to do is to,asmuchaspossible,avoidsuchmatters,to not let them get hold in the mind. Your fertile mind has led you astray. Why, and how?"
    How many millions of mothers over the course of the centuries have asked this of offspring who've been inexplicably drawn to the shadow lands of life only to lose their way back to sanity? Only God knows. Most of course, successfully make the journey back before settling into a normal mode of life, but the danger of becoming lost is always there, especially for those who remain therein far beyond adolescence. Eternal adolescence being arguably one of the prime features of our era, facilitated by its exaltation of youth, which is an intrinsic part of its pre-eminent art form, Rock Music. And while there are those who'd insist that far fewer young people today are in thrall to the dark glamour of self-destructivegeniusthaninpreviousRock eras, the world view still very much exists.
    For David's part, he came ultimately to view Rock as more than just a simple Pop music derived from various Folk genres, so much as an enormously influential subculture, even a religion, and to contend that those who grew to maturity in the sixties were spiritually affected not just by the music but the cultural changes brought about by the Rock revolution.
    He'd insist that from quitting formal education aged 16, he was in thrall to a cult of instant gratification that had been growing progressively more powerful throughout the West since about 1955.
    After all, he'd contend, he failed to build a future for himself, in terms of a profession, a family, financial security, and so on, having once viewed all these with an indifference verging on contempt. And it hurt him deeply to realise the extent to which he'd sabotaged his life with such a negative identity.
    The following summer of 1992, he made another attempt at passing the TEFL course...this time at a college set in one of London's most beautiful parks. But he was drinking on pretty well a daily basis, and even though he worked hard and gave some good classes, there was no way on earth he was going to pass.
    Still, it was a fabulous summer, and much of it he spent in a state of manic hyperactivity. Bliss it was to stride in the warm suburban evening sun to his local station of Hampton Court...perhaps with the Orb's eerie Blue Room playing again and again in his mind...on his way to yet another long night of ecstatic insensibility. He could have passed out on any one of these wild nights and found himself in Hell; that is the terrifying truth of the matter.
    The romantic decadence associated with the eighties was no longer even remotely current, and there was a new spirit as he saw it, a kind of mystic techno-bohemianism perhaps, which appeared to him to be everywhere in the early nineties.
    And he sought to visit as many clubs and venues as he could where it was being celebrated, even though in the event he only ever went to one, Cyber Seed in Covent Garden, which was poorly attended and only lasted a short time.
    Later on in this final beautiful lethal summer of intoxication, and soon after appearing as Stefano in The Tempest at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, he set out on yet another PGCE course; this one bearing the suffix "fe" for Further Education.
    Its purpose was to train himself and his fellow students to teach pupils in sixth form colleges and other further education establishments. And while its base was the University of New Eltham in the tough outer suburbs of South East London, he divided his time between New Eltham, and Twickenham College in the leafy Royal Borough of Richmond on Thames.
    While on top of all this study, there were the gigs with Maxie...the novelty telegrams...and who knows what else...and he loved every second of a frenetic lifestyle lived in total ecstatic defiance of the wholesale ruin of mind, body, soul, spirit...
    The period embracing the autumn of 1992 and the first few weeks of winter may well have been the most debauched of David's entire existence.
    He'd - typically - rise early during the week, possibly around six, before preparing himself for the day ahead with a bottle of wine, usually fortified; then he'd keep his units topped up throughout the day with vodka or gin, taking regular swigs from the miniatures he liked to have with him at all times. Some evenings he'd spend in central London, others with his new friends from the college, and they were a close and pretty wild crowd for a while. There were times in town when he couldn't keep the booze down, so he'd order a king-sized cola from McDonald's, which he'd then lace with spirits before cautiously sipping from it through a straw.
    He was a euphoric drunk and so almost never unpleasant...but he was unpredictable...a true Dionysian who'd cry out on a British Rail train in the middle of the afternoon, causing passengers to flinch with alarm...or perform a wild disjointed Karate kick into thin air on a crowded London street. One afternoon he tore his clothes to shreds after having arrived too late for an audition and a barman who served him later on in the day asked him:
    "You bin in a fight then?"
    And then there was the shameful night at Waterloo station - or was it Liverpool Street? - that he was so incapacitated by drink that he had to be escorted across the main concourse to his train by one of a colony of rough sleepers that were a feature of mainline stations in those days.
    However, all these insane incidents came to a head one night in early 1993 in an Indian restaurant in Hampton Court close to the Surrey-London border. He'd been dining there with two female friends when, suddenly feeling like pure death, he turned to the lady who was next to him and asked:
    "Do I look as bad as I feel?
    As soon as she'd told him that indeed he did, he got up from the table, walked a few paces and then collapsed as if stone dead in the middle of the restaurant. He was then carried bodily out into the fresh night air by two or three Indian waiters, one of whom set about shocking some life back into him by flicking ice cold water in his face.
    "Don't give up," he pleaded, his voice betraying true concern...and in time thanks to him some semblance of life returned, and David was well enough to be driven home.
    Yet, within two days he was drinking as heavily as before, continuing to do so virtually around the clock until the weekend. He then spent Saturday evening with his close friend from the restaurant; and at some point in the morning of what was almost certainly Sunday the 17th of January 1993, after having drunk solidly all night, he asked her to fill a long glass with neat gin and each sip took him further and further into the desired state of blissful forgetfulness.
    He awoke exhilarated, which was normal for him following a lengthy binge. It was his one drying out day of the week, and so he probably spent it writing as well as cleaning up the accumulated chaos of the past week. One thing he definitely did was listen to a radio documentary on the legendary L.A. Rock band the Doors which he'd taped some weeks or perhaps months earlier.
    He especially savoured When the Music's Over from what was then one of his favourite albums, Strange Days, released in the wake of the Summer of Love on his 12th birthday, 7 October 1967. This apocalyptic epic with its unearthly screams and ecstatically discordant guitar solo seemed to him about living in the shadow of death, beckoning death, mocking death, defying death.
    He powerfully identified with the Doors' gifted singer Jim Morrison...who'd been drawn as a very young man to poets of darkly prophetic intensity, such as Blake, Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Artaud. As well as those of the Beat Generation, who were themselves to a degree children of the - largely French - Romantic so-called accursed poets, whose works have the power to change lives, as they surely did Morrison's.
    His philosophy of life was clearly informed by Blake, who wrote of "the road of excess" leading to "the palace of wisdom." While his hell raising persona came to a degree from Rimbaud, who extolled the virtues of "a long, immense and systematic derangement of all the senses" as an

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    Thu, Feb 28th - 7:38AM

    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Five





    A few weeks after
    Sleeping Beauty had culminated at the Buxton Opera House over Christmas 1979, David Cristiansen appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream atboth the Bristol and London Old Vics alongside legendary method genius and future Hollywood superstar DanielDayLewis,who played Philostrate; and brilliant character actor Nickolas Grace, who made a mesmerising Puck.
    However, the cast as a whole was incredibly gifted and charismatic, and shortly before the opening night, David was lucky enough to see a BOV production of one of his favourite ever musicals, Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls, featuring Clive Wood as Sky and Pete Postlethwaite as Nathan, which may have provided him with more unalloyed pleasure than any other theatrical production he'd seen up to that point.
    After resuming his role as Mustardeed in the summer, his next acting job came early the following year courtesy of an old family friend, Howell Jones, who just happened to be the Company Stage Manager at the famous Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road at the time.
    A production of Petronius' Satyricon was already under way, and they needed an Assistant Stage Manager at the last minute, and Howell suggested David. He'd also be the show's percussionist, with primal thrumming rhythms opening the show, and featuring throughout.
    Also in '81, David became a kind of part-time member of an initially nameless youth movement whose origins lay in the late 1970s, largely among discontented ex-Punks, but who were eventually dubbed Futurists; and then New Romantics.
    Their music of preference included the kind of synthesized Art Rock pioneered by German collectives such as Kraftwerk and Can, as well as the highbrow Glam of David Bowie and Roxy Music. All of these elements went on to inform the music of Spandau Ballet and Visage, who emerged from the original scene at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden, and Ultravox, a former Art/Punk band of some renown whose fortunes revived with the coming of the New Romantics.
    The name arose as a result of their impassioned devotion to past eras perceived to be romantic, whether relatively recent ones such as the '20s or '40s, or more distant historical ones such as the Medieval or Elizabethan.
    Several of the cult's more outlandish trendsetters went on to become famous names within the worlds of art and fashion. They stood in some contrast to more harder-edged young dandies such as the Kemp Brothers from working class Islington. Their Spandau Ballet began life as the hippest band in London, famously introduced as such at the Scala cinema by writer and broadcaster Robert Elms in May 1980. In time, though, they mutated into a chart-friendly band with a penchant for soulful Pop songs such as the international smash hit, True.
    David attended New Romantic nights at Le Kilt and Le Beat Route among other swishy night spots, and was even snapped at one of these by photographer David Bailey, believed to have served as model for the central figure of Antonioni's enigmatic evocation of sixties London, Blow Up. But he was never a true New Romantic so much as a lone fellow traveller keen to experience first hand the last truly original London music and fashion cult before it imploded as all others had done before it.
    Despite its florid decadence, it was always far more mainstream than other musical movements which arose in the wake of Punk, such as Post-Punk and Goth.
    For this reason, several of its keys acts went on to become part of the New Wave, whose mixture of complex tunes and telegenic Glam image partly inspired the Second British Invasion of the American charts. This occurred thanks largely to a desperate need on the part of the newly arrived Music Television for striking videos, and went on to exert a colossal influence on the development of music and fashion throughout the eighties.
    As '81 wore on, David's acting career lost momentum, with the result that some kind of family decision was reached to the effect that he should return to his studies with a view to eventually qualifying as a teacher. Thence, he went on to pass interviews for both the University of Exeter, and Leftfield College, London, scraping in with two very average "A" level passes at B and C, thanks to the infinite generosity of his interviewers, both of whom, the brilliant and charming Dr Mia Pastor of Leftfield's French Department, and the enigmatic Michael, would go on to be among his tutors.
    He wanted to stay in London, so as to keep the possibility of picking up some acting work in his spare time, so in the autumn, after taking up residence in a small room on campus, he started a four-year BA degree course in French and Drama. This taking place mainly at Leftfield, but also partly at the nearby Central Academy of Speech and Dramatic Art, where the previously mentioned Michael worked as a teacher.
    At first, he was so discontented at finding himself a student again at 25 that in an attempt to escape his situation, he auditioned for work as an acting Assistant Stage Manager, but he wasn't taken on, so he simply resigned himself to his fate.
    A short time later, though, while sauntering around at night close by to the Central, he was ambushed by a group of his fellow drama students who may have seemed to him to incarnate the sheer carefree rapturous vitality and joy of life of youth, and because of them and those like them, he came to love his time at Leftfield, which just happened to coincide with the first half of the last of a triad of decades in the West of unceasing artistic and social change and experimentation.
    Indeed, the adversary culture which exploded in the '60s and '70s could be said to have reached its full flowering in the crazy eighties, while perhaps shorn of much of its original potency; even if the vast majority of people whose salad days fell within its boundaries ultimately forged respectable lives following a brief season as outsiders.
    As for David...as much as he loved being young in the wake of the sixties social revolution, by the 2010s, he'd come to bitterly regret the shallow narcissism that once caused him to scorn the trappings of status, security and respectability. And he'd find himself pining for it like some cruelly spurned lover.
    But then, as he saw it, the flouting of all the elements of a contented life for the sake of a few seasons of joy had been tirelessly promoted in the West for over half a century, not least through Rock culture.
    As to the society it had helped to create, it was somewhat akin in his eyes to the antediluvian world, whose workings of the flesh survived the Flood to be disseminated throughout the nations to spell the end of one empire after the other, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, the Roman.
    And the older, wiser David saw himself as having embraced the libertine life for no good reason, having been blessed by every great gift a young man could possibly hope for, including a stable childhood and first-rate education.
    Yet, as he'd come to understand it, our most treasured qualities, such as brilliance, beauty, charm and talent - which can operate together to devastating effect - must be submitted to God, lest they become dangerous, as they so often do. While the gifted, being so visible, are also more susceptible than most to a multitude of temptations. And so all too liable to fall prey to Luciferian pride and Luciferian rebellion...which is why, or so it could reasonably be averred, so many are drawn to the power offered by artistic renown. And in terms of the post-war years, it can perhaps be said that the greatest glory has come through music - the writer of the first song Lamech having been in the line of Cain - and specifically Rock Music.
    Indeed, there are those Christians who believe that the Cainites were the first pagan people, and that they corrupted the Godly line of Seth through a sensual and wicked music not unlike much of the contemporary music known as Rock.
    Of course, not all Rock music is flagrantly wicked, far from it. Much of it is melodically lovely. While in terms of its lyrics, its finest songs display the most delicate poetic sensibility.
    The fact remains, however, that arguably no art form in history has been quite so associated as Rock with rebellion, transgression, licentiousness, intoxication and death-worship, nor been so influential as such.
    And while the David of the 2010s viewed this truth with the fiery eyes of a modern day Jeremiah, his '80s counterpart still desperately sought fame as a Rock and Roll star himself; and if not as Rock artist, then actor, or writer.
    And as the former saw it, it was possibly a good thing he never gained this secular form of immortality; because had he done so, he'd almost certainly have been used for the furtherance of the kingdom of darkness. And once he'd served his purpose, may well have died a solitary premature death as an addict. As has been the fate of so many men and women all too briefly inspirited by the magnetic charisma of the superstar.
    And Leftfield in the early '80s was a seething hotbed of talent and creativity which provided David with almost unlimited opportunities for acting and performance.
    Within days, he'd made a close friend of a fellow French and Drama student by the name of Sebastian Stockbridge.
    Seb was a slim, good-looking, dark-haired charmer from the north east of England who, despite a solid private school background and rugby player's powerful wiry frame, dressed like a Rock star when David first met him, with his left ear typically graced by a pendant earring, and favouring drainpipe style trousers and black pointed boots as he'd come to recall. Together, they went on to feature in Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera.
    David had two small roles, the most fascinating to him being that of petty street thief Filch, as he'd been played by Antonin Artaud in one of two film versions of the play directed by G.W. Pabst in 1931; and Artaud, an example of the avant garde faith in extremis, was one of his most beloved so-called accursed poets.
    Through this production he went on to play jive-talking disc jockey Galactic Jack in the musical play, The Tooth of Crime, its director having been impressed by Seb and himself in The Threepenny Opera, and so cast them in the lead role of Hoss, and Galactic Jack, respectively.
    It's no coincidence that its author, Sam Shepard, has gone on record as having been influenced by Artaud in his own work, as the latter's concept of a Theatre of Cruelty has proved prophetic of much of the theatre of the post-war years, indeed art as a whole, with its emphasis on assailing the senses, and in some cases the sensibilities as well, of the public through every available means.
    Before long, David was channelling every inch of his will to perform into one play after the other at Leftfield, while any real ambition to succeed as an actor receded far into the background.
    When it came to his French studies, in his essay writing he often flaunted an insolent outspokenness perhaps partly influenced by his favourite accursed artists, but also reflecting his own exhibitionistic need to shock. And while some of his tutors may have viewed these efforts with a jaundiced eye, one came to thrill to them and await them with the sort of impatience normally accorded a favourite TV or radio series. This was the remarkable Dr Elizabeth Lang, born in Lancashire in 1924, as the only child of working class parents who went on to gain a place at Oxford University, before becoming a lecturer there, and then at Leftfield.
    What an ascent...from humble northern roots to a lectureship at the most hallowed place of learning in history...little wonder she was so fragile, almost febrile as a person, but so kind, so single-minded in her devotion to those who shared her passionate view of art and life:
    "Temper your enthusiasm," she'd tell David, "and the extremes of your reactions. You should have a more conventional frame on which to hang your unconventionality. Don't push people, you make yourself vulnerable."
    Was she was trying to save him from himself, and from the addiction to self-destruction that so often accompanies extreme distinction, whether of beauty, intelligence or talent, as if it were the lot of some of the most gifted among us to serve as examples of the potentially ruinous nature of privilege when operating in a purely earthly realm?
    For David so loved to play the accursed poet and to scandalise by way of the written and spoken word. How close this carried him to the threshold of a terminally seared conscience it's impossible to say; but one thing is certain, his compassion would soon suffer, a process that would prove excruciating to him.
    That's not to say he ever fully stopped being a caring person, because he certainly didn't, and he continued to be repelled to the core by those artistic revolutionaries who advocated actual physical violence. At the same time, he was slavishly devoted towards certain favoured artists who sought the total demolition of the established order, a consequence that inexorably results in increased crime and violence, not that this occurred to him at the time.
    This nihilistic love of destruction kept uneasy company with a high and mighty dudgeon towards what he perceived as social injustice, and among its chief targets were dictators on the right wing of the political spectrum - in fact, the political right as a whole - and while he also opposed left-wing oppression, he reserved his real animus for the right.
    The 1980s was a decade of protest and riot in the UK, and all through its years of raging discontent, David allied himself with one radical lobby after the other; including Greenpeace, CND, Animal Aid, Amnesty, and the Anti-Apartheid Movement which published one of his characteristically apoplectic letters of protest.
    And he marched against the looming nuclear threat in London and Paris, and was a remorseless disseminator of rants, pamphlets, tracts, postcards, and whatever else was at hand as a means of spreading a message of social revolution.
    He would ultimately contend that his was the self-righteous fury that is rooted in a false notion of the perfectibility of Man, that fails to recognise that oppression stems from the sin we all share, and that has no real satisfying motive other than its own existence. But at the time, he knew nothing of any of this.
    In the summer, a faction from Leftfield, culled mostly from the Drama department, took Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to the internationally famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and in their production, Shakespeare's Illyria was transformed into a Hippie paradise, with David playing Feste as a Dylanesque minstrel strumming dirge-like folk songs with a voice like sand and glue.
    Among the wildest of them descending many a night on the Fringe Club on Chambers Street were, apart from David, Massimo, a dashing Britalian of passionately held humanitarian convictions, who played Sir Toby Belch, Denny, with the deep-set blue eyes with whom David would go on to form a close musical partnership, and Jez, a tough but tender Scouser with slicked back rockabilly hair, who played Malvolio in a mesmerisingly understated manner.
    Jez was a fascinating, charismatic guy with a hilariously dry sense of humour who had been in a band in the early '80s at the legendary Liverpool Post-Punk club, Eric's. He and his girlfriend Gill, who'd designed the flowing Hippie costumes, and was also a very dear friend of David's, never stopped encouraging him nor believing in him:
    "I think you should be one of the greats, David," Jez once told him, "but you've given up and that's sad. When I'm 27, I'd be happy to be like you. In your writing, make sure you've got something really unbeatable...then say...'here!'"
    Yet, while he was complimented by many at Leftfield, others betrayed their disquiet with their words, as if he had the power to remind them of the true tragic essence of sed non satiata:
    "You give to everyone, but are incapable of giving in particular."
    "I'm afraid...you're inscrutable. You're not just blasé are you?"
    "I'm afraid there's something really troubling you, that you don't want to tell anyone."
    "There's a mystery about you...you change."
    "I like it when you really feel something, but then it's so rare."
    "Don't go away so long like that, David, it worries me."
    "Disabused."
    "Blind, deaf, indifferent."
    David's relationship with Leftfield was one of the great passions of his life, and one destined to haunt him for the remainder of his days, as if he knew he'd never know such depths of intimacy again, and be increasingly prey to the torment of fading affect.
    Then the following year, his second at Leftfield, he lived in an upper floor apartment in Golders Green with his close friends from the French department, Seb, a former Sedbergh School alumnus, and fellow northerner Stephen, whose alma mater was Sedbergh's age-old rival, Ampleforth, a Catholic college largely run by Benedictine monks.
    Steve was an incredibly gifted pianist and guitarist who despite a misleadingly serious demeanour was a warm, affectionate, witty, eccentric character who endlessly buzzed with the nervous energy of near-genius. He might not have wanted to ape the way his flatmates dressed and behaved, but he was fiercely protective of them despite their social butterfly ways.
    And David was determined to live like an aesthete, even if it meant doing so on a shoestring in a cramped little flat in suburban north London, which was hardly the city of dreaming spires; and to this end he organised what he optimistically termed a salon, which although well-attended didn't survive beyond a single meeting. For as aesthetes, David and co. fell pathetically short of the new Brideshead generation that was thriving at Oxford in the wake of the classic TV series.
    But David couldn't have cared less, for self-doubt simply wasn't an issue for him in the early eighties and he was a truly happy person; in fact so much so that he may have exaggerated his capacity for depth and melancholia as a means of making himself more interesting to others.
    In the final analysis though, what possible reason was there for him to be discontented, given that his first two Leftfield years were fabulous...an unceasing cycle of plays, shows, concerts, discos, parties set in one of the most beautiful and bucolic areas of London?
    His second year drama project was centred on a theatrical production of Playing with Fire, a one-act play by the controversial Swedish dramatist August Strindberg. He was allotted the task of supplying the music; as well as the leading role of Knut, a sardonic Bohemian painter forced to endure the adulterous behaviour of a friend. This being Alex, played by budding playwright Paul, who following an invitation to stay with him at the house of his upper middle class parents for a few days, embarks on an affair with his wife Kerstin.
    Later in the year, Paul asked David to appear in a short play of his entitled Wild Life in which he interpreted the role of a violent young psychopath intent on causing mayhem at a house party, just one of a succession of plays or shows in which he was featured during that heady second year at Leftfield. The others including Twelfth Night with the Edinburgh cast more or less intact, and a Rice-Lloyd Webber showcase in which he played his former idol Che.
    After the second year ended in the summer of 1983, David had a few months to spare before travelling to Paris to work as an English language assistant at a Lycée Technique in the suburb of Brétigny-sur-Orge in Essonne...some sixteen miles south of the city centre.
    This spelled his exile from the old drama clique, and he'd not be joining them in their final year celebrations, and the knowledge of this must surely have affected him. He was, after all, severing himself from a vast network of gifted friends of whom he was deeply fond, and so losing an opportunity of growing as an artist in tandem with like-minded spirits. He could have opted for just a few weeks in France, but did he really want to be deprived of the chance of spending more than six months in the city he'd long worshipped as the only true home of an artist?
    Earlier in the year, his close friend Madeleine, a brilliant dynamic woman of North African Jewish ancestry had told him something to the effect that while many were drawn to him, it wasn't just in consequence of any magnetic attractiveness he might have possessed:
    "They sense death in you," she chillingly opined.
    Cognizant as she was of the intellectual worldview of the great psychologist Sigmund Freud, who identified a death drive subsequently dubbed thanatos, she may have divined some kind of will to destruction within him, or rather, self-destruction.
    As things turned out, she was right in doing so, although this was barely embryonic in the early '80s, if it existed at all, but he would ultimately attribute its existence to a cocktail of intoxicants, namely, alcohol, the occult, and intellectualism, and to be of the belief that each exerted a terribly negative effect on his development as a human being.
    It was not, he would contend, that intellectualism is evil in itself, but that intellectuals are more tempted than most by pride, rebellion and sensuality, and that the same could be said of those blessed with great wealth, great beauty, and great talent. He'd see intellectuals as among the most powerful men and women in history, and the Modern World as having been significantly shaped by the wildly inspired views of men such as Rousseau, Darwin, Nietzsche, and especially Marx and Freud.
    To the man he'd become, their theories fanned the flames of a largely bloodless revolution in the 1960s, and rather than fade once the latter had been largely quenched, set about infiltrating the cultural mainstream where they became more extreme than ever. And so to enter the realm of the Post-Modern, while remaining the ultimate consequence of centuries of Modernist influence on the Judeo-Christian fabric of Western civilisation.
    However, David was never a true scholar like Madeleine, so much as someone who was both troubled and fascinated by the idea of hyper-intellectuality. Reading Colin Wilson's The Outsider in the early '80s, he especially identified with those intellectuals who were tortured by their own excesses of consciousness such as T.E. Lawrence, who wrote of his nature as being "thought-riddled".
    As a child he'd been extrovert to the point of hyperactivity, but by the time of his late adolescence, found himself subject to rival drives of equal intensity, one towards seclusion and introspection, the other, attention and approbation.
    In his quest for the latter, he subjected his body, the creation he tendered so lovingly at times, to a ruthless almost derisive work ethic, and intoxication mild and otherwise - facilitated the constant socialising that brought him the affirmation he so craved, what could be termed a narcissistic supply. How else to explain the sheer demented fervour of his endless self-exaltation?
    That's not to say that he wasn't a loving person, because he was; but precisely what kind of love was it that he spread so generously about himself? One thing it wasn't was agape, the perfect, selfless love described in 1 Corinthians 13.
    He was hardly less remorseless towards his mind than his body, bombarding it with information so much of which existed on the dark side of knowledge. Little wonder then that he turned to drink as a means of pacifying it, although alcohol still wasn't a serious problem for him in the early '80s, when his exhausting daily regimen tended to be fuelled instead by massive quantities of caffeine tablets. That said, Madeleine didn't like it when he drank to excess, as if she'd already singled him out as someone who'd go on to develop a drink problem. In this as in other things she showed remarkable insight.
    "Your friends are too good to you...it makes me sick to see them...you don't really give...you indulge in conversation, but your mind is always elsewhere, ticking over. You could hurt me, you know...you are a Don Juan, so much. Like him, you have no desires...I think you have deep fears...it's not that you're empty...but that there is an omnipresent sadness about you, a fatality..."
    In the autumn of 1983, David took residence in a room on the grounds of his allotted school.It was during those early days in Paris that he became infected by a serious sense of self-disillusion, as a new darkness spread over his mind.
    This sea-change marked the onset of a real drink problem that went way beyond the usual student booze-ups into the murky realm of drinking alone by day, and which David would ultimately attribute to a conscience that was starting to become calloused through repeated defilement. His well-being, however, remained relatively unaffected, in fact, for those first few months, he was happy, blissfully happy to be a nomad in the city which had inspired so many great poets to write classics of the art of urban idling. He wrote of his own experiences, usually late at night in his room, and almost certainly with the assistance of alcohol and cigarettes; and while few of these notes survived, some incidents that may once have been committed to paper stayedfreshinhismind.
    There was the time he sat opposite a same-sex couple on the Metro when he was still innocent of its labyrinthine complexities. "She" was a slim white girl, dressed from head to toe in denim, who gazed blissfully, with lips coyly pursed, into some wistful middle distance, while her muscular black boyfriend stared straight through him with eyes in which desire and menace seemed to be mixed, until one of them spoke, almost in a whisper:
    "Qu'est-ce-que t'en pense?"
    He came to recall the night he took the Métro to Montparnasse-Bienvenue, where he slowly sipped a demi-blonde in a brasserie, perhaps of the type immortalised by Brassai in his photographs of the secret life of '30s Paris. At the same time, a bewhiskered old man in a naval officer's cap, his table strewn with empty wine bottles and cigarette butts, repeatedly screeched the name, "Phillippe!" until a pallid impassive bartender with patent leather hair filled his glass to the brim with a mock-obsequious:
    "Voilà, mon Capitaine!"
    And then there was the afternoon when, enacting the role of the social discontent, he joined an anti nuclear march through Paris which ended with a bizarre street cabaret performed by a troupe of neo-hippies whose sheer demented defiance may have filled him with longing for a time when he treated his well-thumbed copy of the Fontana Modern Masters bio of Che Guevara by Andrew Sinclair as some kind of sacred text...
    A day spent as a nomad in the City of Light would often end with a few hours spent in a movie theatre, perhaps in the vast soulless Forum des Halles shopping precinct, and there was a point he started to hate the movies he chose, as he struggled more and more with fits of deep and uncontrollable depression. For the first time in his life, he was starting to feel worse after having seen a film than before, the result perhaps of creeping anhedonia, which is a reduced ability to enjoy activities found pleasurable by the majority.
    He grew bored of watching others perform. What joy, he reasoned, was to be found in watching some dismal movie, when there was so much to do in the greatest city in the civilised world?
    He'd never really been any kind melancholic up until this point but this situation may have started to change in his first few months in Paris. If his travels failed to produce the desired uplifting effect, he'd fall prey to a despair that was wholly out of proportion to the cause.
    As a means of protecting himself, he started squandering his hard-earned cash on endless baubles and fripperies. These wholly pointless trinkets included a gaudy short-sleeved shirt by Yves St Laurent, a retro-style alarm clock with the loudest tick in Christendom, a gold-plated toothbrush which he never actually used, a black and gold cigarette holder and matching slim fit lighter, a portrait drawn of him at the Place du Tertre which made him look like a cherubic 12 year old, and a black vinyl box jacket procured from the Porte de Clignancourt flea market.
    Mention must also be made of the many books he bought, such as the three Folio works by Symbolist pioneers, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and Joséphin Péladan; as well as the second-hand books of poetry by such obscure figures as Trakl and Deleve...part of Seguers' Contemporary Poets collection.
    Could the kids who loved to wave and coo at him from all corners of the school have guessed that their precious David who looked like a lost member of Wham or Duran Duran was prey to dark depressions?
    Could they ever have known he was a collector of the literary works of late 19th Century Decadents...and a social discontent given to recording snarling rants on a cheap cassette tape recorder?
    The simple answer is not in a thousand years...for he was leading a double life, perhaps even a multiple one. Little wonder, therefore, that he was starting to drink to try and make sense of what was happening to him, which was something akin to the fracturing of the personality.
    It wasn't long before he tired of his solitary existence; but then becoming more sociable may have simply been the result of being in one place for a significant length of time and nothing more meaningful than that. In fact, he'd already befriended twenty year old Theresa "Tessa" Evans, English assistant in the neighbouring town of Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois while they were both attending classes at the Sorbonne intended to prepare them for the year ahead. And they went on to see more and more ofeachotherastheir Parisian sojourn proceeded apace.
    She'd been a close girlhood chum at convent school of his great Leftfield friend, Ariana Hansen...in fact, one of the first times they met up was with Ariana, when they saw Gimme Shelter in some dinky little art house theatre. This being, of course, the documentary of the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour which culminated in the infamous Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California, which helped to put an end to the Hippie dream of peace and love.
    Other close friends included Metal Work teacher Milan, the son of Yugoslavian parents from the suburb of Bagneux whose impassive manner belied the exorbitantly loving soul of a true poet.
    As well as Maths teacher Jules, who was the generous-spirited son of an army officer, and a furious hedonist who worshipped the Rock and Roll lifestyle of Keith Richards and other British bad boy musicians. I can see him now, tall, thin, dark, charismatic, with his head of wiry black hair, dressed in drainpipes and Cuban heeled boots, playing the bass guitar - but brilliantly - at some unearthly hour with friends following a night's heavy partying before rushing to be with a girl friend as the dawn broke.
    And Jean-Paul...another Metal Work teacher as he'd come to recall, possibly from provincial France, and one of nature's gentlemen, sincere, warm and convivial.
    So many of the people of Brétigny went out of their way to make David feel welcome and content from the headmaster all the way down to the kids, some of whom staged near-riots in the classroom whenever he appeared. He felt so unworthy of their kindness, of the incredible hospitality that is characteristic of ordinary French people.
    However, if he was much loved in the warm-hearted faubourgs, in Paris itself he was at times as much a magnet for menace as approval.
    In fact, he was hysterically threatened in the streets of Pigalle only days after arriving in the city; and then verbally assaulted later in the year, this time on an RER train by some kind of madman or derelict who'd taken exception to his earrings and was furiously urging him to go to the Bois de Boulogne. But what he suggested he do there is too obscene to print.
    And mention must also be made of the sinister skinhead who called him a "******* anglaise'' for trying on Tessa's wide-brimmed hat while travelling home by train after a night out with her and Ariana. But as ever, he was mysteriously protected against all the odds.
    On a far brighter note, he spent a sizeable part of the journey from Paris-Austerlitz to Brétigny with a self-professed "voyou" with chilling shark-like eyes, who nonetheless seemed quite fond of him, as he made no attempt to threaten him. He even gave him his number, telling him that unless he phoned as promised, he was merely what he termed "un anglais ***."
    David left Brétigny without saying goodbye to so many people that it was painful to think of it afterwards, but frenetic eleventh hour socialising had left him exhausted. However, there was one final get-together, organised by Tessa and a few other friends. Milan was there of course, as well as well as several mutual friends of Tessa's and his. Sadly though, Jules wasn't, although he bumped into one of his girl friends, who, her voice dripping with incredulity, asked:
    "Où est Jules?"
    Seized by guilt for having failed to invite him, David phoned him at home to ask him to make a last minute appearance, but in a muted voice, he told him:
    "Nah, I'm in the bath, man, it's too late."
    It was the last he ever heard of him. As for Milan, he and David were to talk on the phone once the latter had returned to London, but they never saw each other again. On the other hand, Tessa and he stayed friends until the early '90s, by which time she'd got married to a fellow church-goer and former Cambridge University alumnus called Peter, who also became a good friend. And some two decades afterwards, they'd resume their friendship, and so regularly assemble as a trio with Ariana.
    His parents stopped by that night to pick him up on their way to La Ribera where they were due to stay for a few weeks before returning to the UK, and after a day or so spent sightseeing, they set off. Soon after arriving, it became clear to David that over eight years after the death of Generalísimo Franco, with Spain's beatific innocence long gone, his beloved pueblo had changed beyond all recognition.
    In Murcia, while quietly drinking in a night club with some very dear friends of his from La Ribera's golden age, he found himself in the surreal position of being visually threatened by a local Punk who clearly objected to the bootlace tie he was wearing which immediately identified him as a hated Rockabilly. As he saw it, such a thing would never have happened ten years before; or perhaps even five.
    As for the youth of La Ribera itself, where once they'd been endearingly naive, now they seemed so worldly and cool that David was in awe of them, as they danced like chickens with their elbows thrust out...almost certainly to the latest hippest hits, such as King's Won't You Hold My Hand Now, which David endlessly translated for them.


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    Tue, Feb 26th - 7:56PM

    Epic and Autobiographical (A Versified Finale) 1.



    1955Carl as InfantSeaside, 1950sCarl as Boy, WalesCrescent adolescent 

    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

    Born on the Goldhawk Road
    Provides a fitting preface
    To a long autobiographical piece,
    Consisting almost entirely
    Of versified prose, and linear in nature,
    Which is to say,
    Beginning with my birth,
    And leading all the way
    To the early 2000s.
    Whilst dealing with my earliest years,
    It was fashioned only recently.
    Although An Autobiographical Narrative
    Has been composed not solely of
    Stray pieces of prose
    That failed to make the first team.
    For it includes
    Further versified phenomena,
    Such as refugees from the memoir,
    Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child.
    The piece itself is a versified version
    Of one much reproduced
    In various forms throughout my writings,
    Although it bears little resemblance
    To its original, which first glimpsed
    The light of day in around 2002,
    As a meagre and mediocre slice of prose,
    And while it can still be read
    On the World Wide Web,
    It's undergone much modification since then,
    Including the alteration
    Of all names of people and places
    For the solemn purpose of privacy.
    Although it was first published
    In a form resembling that found below
    At the Blogster website,
    On the 1st of February 2006.
    Born on the Goldhawk Road
    I was born at the tail end of the Goldhawk Road
    Which runs through Shepherds Bush
    Like an artery,
    And in the mid 1960s,
    Served as one of the great centres
    Of the London Mod movement,
    But I was raised in relative gentility
    In a ward of nearby South Acton
    Whose vast council estate
    Is surely the most formidable
    Of the whole of West London.
    Although my little suburb
    Has since become
    One of its most exclusive neighbourhoods.

    My first school was a kind of nursery
    Held locally on a daily basis
    At the private residence
    Of one Miss Henrietta Pearson,
    And then aged 4 years old,
    I joined the exclusive
    Lycée Français du Kensington du Sud,
    Where I was soon to become bilingual
    And almost every race and nationality
    Under the sun was to be found
    At the Lycée in those days...
    And among those who went on to be good pals mine
    Were kids of English, French, Jewish, American,
    Yugoslavian and Middle Eastern origin.

    While my first closest pals were Esther,
    The vivacious daughter
    Of a Norwegian character actor
    And a beautiful Israeli dancer,
    And Craig, an English kid like myself,
    With whom I remain in contact to this day.
    For a time, we formed an unlikely trio:
    "Hi kiddy," was Esther's sacred greeting
    To her blood brother, who'd respond in kind.
    But at some stage, I became a problem child,
    A disruptive influence in the class,
    And a trouble maker in the streets,
    An eccentric loon full of madcap fun
    And half-deranged imaginativeness.

    And my unusual physical appearance
    Was enhanced by a striking thinness,
    And enormous long-lashed blue eyes.
    Less charmingly, I was also the kind of
    Deliberately malicious little hooligan
    Who'd remove some periodical
    From a neighbour's letter-box
    And then mutilate it before reposting it.
    The sixties' famed social and sexual revolution
    Was well under way, and yet for all that,
    Seminal Pop groups such as the Searchers
    And the Dave Clark Five;
    Even the Fab Four themselves,
    Were quaintly wholesome figures.

    And in comparison to what was to come,
    They surely fitted in well
    In a long vanished England
    Of Norman Wisdom pictures;
    And the well-spoken presenters
    Of the BBC Home Service,
    Light Service and World Service,
    Of coppers and tanners
    And ten bob notes;
    And jolly shopkeepers
    And window cleaners.
    At least that's how I see it,
    Looking back at it all
    From almost half a century later.

    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

    In its most primordial form,
    Snapshots knew life as spidery writings
    Filling four and a half pages
    Of a school notebook
    In what is likely to have been 1977.

    And these were edited in 2006,
    Before being tendered a new title,
    Subjected to alterations in punctuation,
    And then finally published at Blogster
    On the 10th of March of that year.

    Some grammatical corrections took place,
    Which were suitably mild
    So as not to excessively alter the original work,
    From which certain sentences were composed
    By fusing two or more sections together.

    Ultimately, parts of it were incorporated
    Into the memoir, Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child,
    And thence into the first chapter
    Of the definitive autobiographical piece,
    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life.

    But recently, it was newly versified,
    With a fresh set of minor corrections,
    Although as ever with these memoir-based writings
    The majority of names have been changed,
    And they are faithful to the truth to the best of my ability.

    Snapshots from a Child's West London

    I remember my cherished Wolf Cub pack,
    How I loved those Wednesday evenings,
    The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,
    The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair
    During the mass meetings,
    The solemnity of my enrolment,
    Being helped up a tree by an older boy,
    Baloo, or Kim, or someone,
    To win my Athletics badge,
    Winning my first star, my two year badge,
    And my swimming badge
    With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.

    I remember a child's West London.

    One Saturday afternoon, after a football match
    During which I dirtied my boots
    By standing around as a sub in the mud,
    And my elbow by tripping over a loose shoelace,
    An older boy offered to take me home.
    We walked along streets,
    Through subways crammed with rowdies,
    White or West Indian, in black gym shoes.
    "Shuddup!" my friend would cheerfully yell,
    And they did.
    "We go' a ge' yer 'oame, ain' we mite, ay?"
    "Yes. Where exactly are you taking me?" I asked.

    "The bus stop at Chiswick 'Oigh Stree'
    Is the best plice, oi reck'n."
    "Yes, but not on Chiswick High Street,"
    I said, starting to sniff.
    "You be oroight theah, me lil' mite."
    I was not convinced.
    The uncertainty of my ever getting home
    Caused me to start to bawl,
    And I was still hollering
    As we mounted the bus.
    I remember the sudden turning of heads.
    It must have been quite astonishing

    For a peaceful busload of passengers
    To have their everyday lives
    Suddenly intruded upon
    By a group of distressed looking Wolf Cubs,
    One of whom, the smallest,
    Was howling red-faced with anguish
    For some undetermined reason.
    After some moments, my friend,
    His brow furrowed with regret,
    As if he had done me some wrong, said:
    "I'm gonna drop you off
    Where your dad put you on."

    Within seconds, the clouds dispersed,
    And my damp cheeks beamed.
    Then, I spied a street I recognised
    From the bus window, and got up,
    Grinning with all my might:
    "This'll do," I said.
    "Wai', Dave," cried my friend,
    Are you shoa vis is 'oroigh'?"
    "Yup!" I said. I was still grinning
    As I spied my friend's anxious face
    In the glinting window of the bus
    As it moved down the street.

    I remember a child's West London.

    One Wednesday evening,
    When the Pops was being broadcast
    Instead of on Thursday,
    I was rather reluctant to go to Cubs,
    And was more than usually uncooperative
    With my father as he tried
    To help me find my cap,
    Which had disappeared.
    Frustrated, he put on his coat
    And quietly opened the door.
    I stepped outside into the icy atmosphere
    Wearing only a pair of underpants,

    And to my horror, he got into his black Citroën
    And drove off. I darted down Esmond Road
    Crying and shouting.
    My tearful howling was heard by Margaret,
    19 year old daughter of Mrs Helena Jacobs,
    Whom my mother used to help
    With the care and entertainment
    Of Thalidomide children.
    Helena Jacobs expended so much energy
    On feeling for others
    That when my mother tried to get in touch
    In the mid '70s, she seemed exhausted,

    And quite understandably,
    For Mrs O'Keefe, her cleaning lady
    And friend for the main part
    Of her married life
    Had recently been killed in a road accident.
    I remember that kind
    And beautiful Irish lady,
    Her charm, happiness and sweetness,
    She was the salt of the earth.
    She threatened to ca-rrown me
    When I went away to school...
    If I wrote her not.

    Margaret picked me up
    And carried me back to my house.
    I immediately put on my uniform
    As soon as she had gone home,
    Left a note for my Pa,
    And went myself to Cubs.
    When Pa arrived to pick me up,
    The whole ridiculous story
    Was told to Akela,
    Baloo and Kim,
    Much, much, much to my shame.

    I remember a child's West London.

    The year was 1963, the year of the Beatles,
    Of singing yeah, yeah in the car,
    Of twisting in the playground,
    Of "I'm a Beatlemaniac, are you?"
    That year, I was very prejudiced
    Against an American boy, Raymond,
    Who later became my friend.
    I used to attack him for no reason,
    Like a dog, just to assert my superiority.
    One day, he gave me a rabbit punch in the stomach
    And I made such a fuss that my little girlfriend, Nina,
    Wanted to escort me to the safety of our teacher,

    Hugging me, and kissing me intermittently
    On my forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks.
    She forced me to see her:
    "David didn't do a thing," said Nina,
    "And Raymond came up and gave him
    Four rabbit punches in the stomach."
    Raymond was not penalized,
    For Mademoiselle knew
    What a little demon I was,
    No matter how hurt
    And innocent I looked,
    Tearful, with my tail between my legs.

    I remember a child's West London.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s
    In September 1968,
    While still only 12 years old,
    I became a Naval Cadet
    at the Nautical College,
    Welbourne,
    Situated then as now
    In the Royal County
    Of Berkshire.
    Which may have made me
    The youngest and unlikeliest
    Serving officer
    In the entire Royal Navy,
    If only for a very, very short time.
    The Four Precious Years (I Spent at Welbourne)
    My third and final school
    Was the former Nautical College, Welbourne,
    Where at still only twelve years old
    I became the youngest kid in the college,
    And an official serving officer
    In Britain's Royal Naval Reserve.
    Founded at the height of the British Empire,
    Welbourne still possessed her original title in '68,
    while her headmaster,
    A serving officer in the Royal Navy
    For some quarter of a century,
    Wore his uniform at all times.
    However, in '69,
    She was given the name Welbourne College.

    While the boys retained their officer status,
    And naval discipline continued to be enforced,
    With Welbourne serving both
    As a military college
    And traditional English boarding school.
    The Welbourne I knew
    Had strong links to the Church of England,
    And so was marked by regular
    If not daily classes
    In what was known as Divinity,
    Morning parade ground prayers,
    Evening prayers,
    And compulsory chapel
    On Sunday morning.

    Later in life, I felt grateful to her
    For the values she'd instilled in me
    If only unconsciously, even though,
    By the time I joined Welbourne,
    These were under siege as never before
    By the so-called Counterculture.
    And in the early 2010s,
    I'd insist if I possessed
    A single quality that might be termed noble,
    Such as patience, or self-mastery
    Or consideration of the needs of other people,
    Then I'm at least partially indebted
    For such a wonderful blessing
    To the four precious years I spent at Welbourne.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

    For all the Beatniks of SF consists of
    Edited and versified extracts
    From one of my earliest
    Existent pieces of fictional writing.
    Dating at an estimate from about 1970,
    It reflects the spirit of the times,
    Even though its been sanitised
    For online publication.
    In the years immediately following
    The revolutionary events of '68
    I was deeply in sympathy
    With the West's prevailing
    Adversary Culture
    Or Alternative Society
    Which is very much not the case today.
    And my attitude is dictated
    Not by increasing maturity,
    But by my Christian beliefs,
    Without which I might
    Be an ageing hipster by now,
    Blithely festooned
    With ostentatious symbols of revolt.

    For all the Beatniks of San Francisco

    Shirley Brown was a very beautiful girl,
    And her brunette hair
    Hung down her back
    And as the wind blew thru the window,
    It waved around. It waved around.
    She was making sandwiches,
    And was packing them with fruit,
    And two massive bars of fruit
    And nut chocolate.
    She lit a cigarette, picked up the basket,
    And with a nod of her head,
    Waved her hair backwards
    And walked out the back door
    Into the alley where,
    Propped up against a fence
    Was a blue mini-moped.
    She mounted the bike
    And with a little trouble, started it.
    And the rider made a sudden jump
    As a horn blew behind her,
    And a leather jacketed youth
    Sped by on a butterfly motor-cycle.

    People turned away
    And the music blared on
    And the youths talked on.
    Then, a park keeper came
    But the youths took no notice.
    "What are you kids doing,
    The keeper shouted,
    I've had complaints from all over,
    Clear off, wilya,
    This is a park
    Not a meeting place
    For all the Beatniks in San Francisco."

    John Hemmings started dancing:
    "Cool it, grandpa, get on,
    Get going, don't bug me!"
    The kids had gone too far
    And they knew it.
    Some of them turned away,
    As the radio blared even louder,
    Litter was scattered everywhere.
    "I ain't chicken of dying,
    John Hemmings then said,
    We've got to go on,
    ALL RIGHT! Who are the crumbs
    Who want to chicken out at this point,
    Just take your bikes and go.
    We're free people now.
    Nothing can stop us,
    We'll rule the streets,
    The young people will triumph."
    He was perspiring wildly
    And his black hair
    Hung down his back.
    It waved around. It waved around.

    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1960s

    This jackadandy's original title was
    An Essay Written by a Guy
    Who Was Too Lazy to Finish It
    ,
    And it dates from
    My college days, ca. 1971,
    At a time I was yet enamoured
    With the hedonistic
    Hippie way of life.
    It's been reproduced more or less
    Verbatim, notwithstanding
    Some minor editing,
    And versification.
    And I don't think it's necessary
    To add there is no such cologne
    As Monsieur de Gauviché.
    As the first title implies,
    It was never finished,
    But I've taken the liberty
    Of belatedly turning the protagonist
    Into a dandified danger man
    Somewhat in the mould
    Of Peter Wyngarde's
    Stylishly overdressed secret agent
    From the classic television series,
    Department S and Jason King.

    Englishman, Jackadandy, Spy

    He made no move at all
    As the alarm clock went off.
    But ten minutes later,
    It was obvious he was awake.
    He lifted himself out of bed
    And went towards the bathroom.
    He shaved himself
    With a Gillette Techmatic
    After having sploshed himself
    With a double handful
    Of icy cold water.
    He washed again, dried his face,
    Put on some Monsieur de Gauviché
    And got dressed.
    He wore a Brutus shirt,
    A Tonik suit and a pair of
    Shiny brown boots.
    He was six foot two,
    And he smoked sixty Players
    Medium Navy Cut cigarettes
    A day, and he lit each one
    With a Ronson lighter.
    His name was Titus Hardin,
    And he had the biggest
    Wardrobe in London.

    He was a fair-haired man
    And very good-looking.
    He was thirty two years old
    And a bachelor,
    And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
    He was immaculate,
    Wore long sideboards
    And a long moustache,
    And his hair was shortish
    And well-combed.
    His shirt was light blue,
    And he wore a dark blue tie.
    He wore two rings on each hand.
    He washed himself
    After his usual breakfast
    Of toast, black coffee and health pills.
    He cleaned his teeth thoroughly,
    Put some more cologne on,
    And then went to do
    His isometrics.
    His name was Titus Hardin,
    And he had the biggest
    Wardrobe in London.

    He was born in London in 1940.
    He went to Eton and Oxford,
    Had taught at Oxford for eight years
    But was sacked.
    He had been an Oxford Rowing Blue,
    And got a degree in English, Art and History.
    His father was Lord Alfred Hardin, M.P.
    Titus loved teaching,
    And not many people know the reason
    For his dismissal at the age of thirty one.
    He was nearly expelled from Eton
    For smoking, drinking,
    And being head of a secret society
    With secret oaths, but he was
    Too promising a sportsman,
    And all the boys respected him
    As a prefect.
    He was a fair-haired man
    And very good-looking.
    He was thirty two years old
    And a bachelor,
    And lived near Richmond, Surrey.
    His flat was beautifully furnished.
    His name was Titus Hardin,
    And he had the biggest wardrobe in London.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s
    To See You at Every Time of Day
    Is a song lyric, penned in 2003,
    But heavily based on one composed
    Almost certainly in 1974,
    And which I originally sang
    In a voice I stole from Bryan Ferry,
    Who'd begun his career
    As a conventional Glam Rock icon,
    But who by '74,
    Had reinvented himself as an old-style
    Crooner cum matinee idol,
    And it was his eccentric version of
    These Foolish Things
    That was the direct inspiration
    For the lyric in question,
    Indeed the song as a whole.

    To See You Every Time of Day

    To see you in the morning
    Be with you in the evening
    To see you here
    At every time of day
    Such a simple prayer
    To see you at every time of day

    To hold you when you're laughing
    Console you when you're crying
    Take care of you
    At every time of day
    Such a simple prayer
    To see you at every time of day

    So tell me why you push me away
    When I've sworn to be forever true
    When I've pledged
    My pure and simple heart to you?
    How can you be so cruel?

    To see you in the morning
    Be with you in the evening
    To see you here
    At every time of day
    Such a simple prayer
    To see you at every time of day.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

    The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate
    Was based largely on writings
    Created possibly as early as 1976.
    And as such, it's been reproduced
    More or less word for word,
    Despite having been recently edited
    And subject to basic versification.
    And in its original form,
    It constituted some kind of
    Unfinished fantastical novel
    Centred on the titular
    Athlete, Poet and Reprobate,
    An absurdly self-exalting
    Version of the original.
    For within less than two decades
    Of penning these self-same words,
    I'd come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

    As to novels reflecting the luxurious lifestyle
    Of a bygone age,
    None had been even remotely completed
    By the time of writing,
    And unless I'm grossly mistaken,
    I was several years shy of becoming an actor.
    That said, the timidity described
    Is at least partially accurate,
    And I did feel the need to provide
    An outward show of my significance
    Through a peacock display of dandyism,
    Which included
    Some wildly idiosyncratic behaviour,
    As well as the subtle deployment of cosmetics.

    The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate

    "I can't decide," she said,
    "Whether you're an aesthete
    Or an athlete
    A poet or a reprobate."

    "Even when I'm a lout,
    I'm an aesthete," he answered,
    "I lure, rather than seek."

    "So why do you
    Need to dress up?"

    "Like Ronald Firbank,
    I suffer from a need
    To give an outward show
    Of my significance.

    His lifestyle is an uncanny
    Parallel
    To my own young manhood

    I alienated people
    Through a crippling shyness
    Which I disguised
    With my violently idiosyncratic

    Behaviour, wore cosmetics
    And wrote novels
    That reflected the luxurious
    Lifestyle of a bygone age.

    The sensation
    Of never quite belonging
    Lingered about me always
    That's why
    I became an actor.

    Through heavy experiences
    I have built up
    A stoned wall
    Resistance
    Against arrogance and aloofness

    I am a sophisticated cynic
    With a kind heart
    And a tendency towards regret."
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

    The origins of An Actor Arrives
    Lie in the barest elements
    Of a story started but never finished
    In early 1980,
    While I was working at the Bristol Old Vic
    Playing the minute part
    Of Mustardseed the Fairy
    In a much praised production
    Of Shakespeare's celebrated
    A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    It was originally rescued in 2006,
    From a battered notebook in which I habitually scribbled
    During spare moments offstage
    While clad in my costume
    And covered in blue body make-up
    And silvery glitter. And while doing so,
    Some of the glitter was transferred from the pages
    With which the were stained
    More than a quarter of a century previously
    Onto my hands...an eerie experience indeed.

    An Actor Arrives (at the Bristol Old Vic)

    I remember the grey slithers of rain,
    The jocular driver
    As I boarded the bus
    At Temple Meads,
    And the friendly lady who told me
    When we had arrived at the city centre.
    I remember the little pub on King Street,
    With its quiet maritime atmosphere.

    I remember tramping
    Along Park Street,
    Whiteladies Road and Blackboy Hill,
    My arms and hands aching from my bags,
    To the little cottage where I had decided to stay
    And relax between rehearsals,
    Reading, writing, listening to music.
    I remember my landlady, tall, timid and beautiful.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
    Nineteen Eighty Tell Me
    Has been reproduced more or less
    As it was originally scrawled
    In a red Silvine memo book
    In the very summer of 1980,
    Almost certainly as I was waiting
    To go on as Mustardseed the Fairy
    During the London run of a much-praised
    Bristol Old Vic production
    Of A Midsummer Nights Dream.
    Nineteen Eighty Tell Me

    Nineteen Eighty, tell me,
    Where are you?
    What are you trying to be?
    This week, you're 1963
    And there's even
    Talk of a rebirth of '67
    But that's next week.
    Nineteen Eighty, tell me,
    When will you be mine?
    A little bit '59,
    I'll not share you with a Beatnik
    Take a rest after the exertions,
    Punk revolutions,
    Before our old friend,
    Sweet nostalgia,
    Goes round the bend.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
    1.
    Thanks to the large quantity
    Of notes I committed to paper
    While at Leftfield College, London,
    My beloved college can live again
    Through sundry writings
    Painstakingly forged out of them,
    Such as the poetic pieces that follow,
    Which is to say, Some Sad Dark Secret,
    Sabrina's Solar Plexus,
    She Dear One that Followed Me,
    And I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces.
    And as in the case of all
    My memoir-based writings,
    The names of people and institutions
    Have been changed
    In the solemn name of privacy.
    2.
    Some Sad Dark Secret was inspired
    By words once spoken to me
    By a former tutor and mentor
    Of mine at Leftfield in around 1982 or '83.
    And which then ended up
    As informal diary notes
    On a piece of scrap paper,
    Consisting of both
    The words themselves,
    And my own perhaps
    Partly fantastical
    Reflections on them.
    Some quarter of a century later,
    They were edited and versified,
    And then the process was repeated
    A half decade or so after that.
    3.
    I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces
    Was recently conceived
    From thoughts confided to a notebook
    Sometime between 1981 and '83
    While I was a student
    At the University of London.

    As I see it, they betoken
    An undiagnosed depressive condition
    Which ultimately led to my contracting
    A serious drinking problem,
    And ultimately some kind of crack-up,
    From which I emerged while not unscathed

    Another man entirely,
    And while I'm still the victim
    Of a depressive condition, it's not as it was,
    Which is to say, one alleviated
    By spells of great elation,
    And yet fundamentally rooted in desperation.

    Today, it's seen by its sufferer as long term
    Yet temporal, to be dispelled,
    Once he comes into a new glorious body,
    Which is his hope and his prayer,
    So all the sicknesses of the old,
    Will be a thing of the past, never to return again.
    Some Sad Dark Secret
    "Temper your enthusiasm,"
    She said,
    "The extremes of your reactions;
    You should have
    A more conventional frame
    On which to hang
    Your unconventionality."
    "Don't push people,"
    She said,
    "You make yourself vulnerable."
    She told me not to rhapsodise,
    That it would be difficult,
    Impossible, perhaps,
    For me to harness my dynamism.
    The tone of my work,
    She said,
    Is often a little dubious.
    She said
    She thought
    That there was something wrong.
    That I'm hiding
    Some sad
    Dark secret from the world.
    "Temper your enthusiasm,"
    She said,
    "The extremes of your reactions;
    You should have
    A more conventional frame
    On which to hang
    Your unconventionality."
    Sabrina's Solar Plexus

    "You were frightening, sinister,
    You put everything into it
    I took a step back
    You get better every time
    How good can you get?"

    People are scared of fish eyes
    They confuse, stun, fascinate
    Coldly indifferent
    Fish eyes
    Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

    Sabrina was unselfish,
    Unselfconscious,
    Devoted, unabashed,
    Spontaneous,
    A purring lioness:
    "Yes," she said,
    "I can imagine people
    Wanting to possess you."

    People are scared of fish eyes;
    They confuse, stun, fascinate;
    Coldly indifferent
    Fish eyes;
    Sucked dry of life fish eyes...

    Sabrina said: "I'm sorry;
    I'm just possessive
    I'm frightened of my feelings
    You'll miss me a little,
    Won't you?
    You should read Lenz.
    I'm sure you'd
    Identify
    With the main character."

    People are scared of fish eyes;
    They confuse, stun, fascinate;
    Coldly indifferent
    Fish eyes;
    Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

    Have I written about the
    Crack-up?
    When I came home
    Empty-handed
    And I just couldn't
    Articulate
    For latent tears.
    But am I so repelled
    By intimacy?
    When will someone
    Get me there (the solar
    Plexus) as Sabrina said.

    People are scared of fish eyes;
    They confuse, stun, fascinate;
    Coldly indifferent
    Fish eyes;
    Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

    "You look beautiful;
    I wish you didn't,
    Malignant
    Flim Flam Man."
    "I like it when you really feel
    Something;
    But then it's so rare."

    People are scared of fish eyes;
    They confuse, stun, fascinate;
    Coldly indifferent
    Fish eyes;
    Sucked dry of life fish eyes.

    She Dear One Who Followed Me
    It was she, bless her,
    who followed me...
    she'd been crying...
    she's too good for me,
    that's for sure...
    "Your friends
    are too good to you...
    it makes me sick
    to see them...
    you don't really give...
    you indulge in conversation,
    but your mind
    is always elsewhere,
    ticking over.
    You could hurt me,
    you know...
    You are a Don Juan,
    so much.
    Like him, you have
    no desires...
    I think you have
    deep fears...
    There's something so...so...
    in your look.
    It's not that
    you're empty...
    but that there is
    an omnipresent sadness
    about you, a fatality..."
    I Hate Those Long Long Spaces
    I hate those long, long spaces
    Between meals and drinks
    Specifically the afternoon
    And after midnight.

    I hate mornings too
    Until I can smell the bacon
    And coffee. I cheer up
    Towards the end of the afternoon,

    But my euphoria stops short
    Of my final cup of tea.
    I sink into another state of gloom
    Until my second favourite time of the day.

    My favourite is that of my
    First drink and cigarette.
    I hate those long, long spaces,
    Specifically the afternoon and after midnight
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

    Verses for Tragic Lovers
    Adolphe and Ellénore

    Is based on an essay I wrote
    Around 1983
    For a former mentor at university,
    Who sadly died in 2008,
    And who features
    As Dr Elizabeth Lang
    In various autobiographical
    Writings of mine.

    It concerns the protagonist
    Of French writer Benjamin Constant's
    1816 novel Adolphe,
    (Which its author emphatically insisted
    Was not autobiographical;
    Not a roman à clef),
    Who is a prototypal victim
    Of what has been termed
    Le Mal du siècle,
    Or the sickness of the century...

    Which, born in the wake of the Revolution,
    And arising from a variety of causes,
    Political, social, and spiritual,
    Depending on the sufferer in question,
    Produced such qualities as
    Melancholy and acedia,
    And a perpetual sense of exile,
    Of alienation,
    That found special favour within
    The great Romantic movement in the arts.

    Although as a phenomenon,
    Weltschmerz was hardly a novel one,
    For after all, does the Word of God not say
    That there is nothing new
    Under the sun?
    But it was possibly unprecedented
    In terms of pervasiveness and intensity
    At the height of Romanticism
    And I'd have no hesitation
    In labelling it tragic as a result.

    In terms of my own pre-Christian self,
    It was almost overwhelmingly powerful,
    And so believer that I am, I feel compelled
    To expose it as potentially ruinous,
    For after all, is it not still with us
    In one way or another,
    Having been passed on by the Romantics
    To kindred movements coming in their wake,
    From the Spirit of Decadence
    To the Rock Revolution?

    And could it not also be said
    That the peculiar notion
    Fostered by Romanticism
    Of the artist as a spirit
    Set apart for some special purpose,
    Of which pain is so often an essential part
    Is also still among us?
    Of course it could,
    And I'd have no hesitation
    In labelling it tragic as a result.

    This Mal du siècle
    Is surely especially melancholy
    In the case of tragic lovers,
    Adolphe and Ellénore,
    For it results in Adolphe effectively
    Drifting into a romance
    With another man's mistress,
    A young mother, Ellénore,
    Who sacrifices everything for him
    Only to discover he no longer loves her.

    For Adolphe is in some respects
    A work within the tradition
    Of the libertine novel
    Of the Age of Enlightenment,
    And yet at the same time,
    By no means an endorsement of libertinage.
    Is rather perhaps, in many respects,
    A powerful indictment of this tendency,
    And thence as much a reproach
    To the tradition; as a late addition to it.

    And the forlorn figure of Adolphe
    Was ultimately to prove influential,
    Notably in Mother Russia,
    Where he allegedly served in part
    As model to Pushkin's fatal dandy,
    The Byronic Eugene Onegin,
    And if Tolstoy's Count Vronsky
    Was also partially based on Adolphe,
    Then there is of course a marked kinship
    Between Ellénore and Anna Karenina.

    In the end, though, one can only weep,
    At the tragedy these eminently romantic
    And sympathetic figures
    Made of their lives. And I speak as one
    Who was once in thrall to the tragic worldview,
    But who came to view life
    As something infinitely valuable,
    To be lived fully under the guidance of God,
    And not sacrificed like some beautiful bauble
    For the bitter-sweet pleasures of the world.

    Verses for Tragic Lovers Adolphe and Ellénore

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    We know little of the physical appearance
    Of Adolphe, but in all probability
    He possesses the youthfully seductive charm
    Of Romantic heroes,
    Werther, René and Julien Sorel.

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    Adolphe is preoccupied with himself
    In the classic manner
    Of the contemplative, melancholy,
    Faintly yearning, hypersensitive,
    Isolated, perceptive Romantic hero.

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    Perhaps he is somebody who believes
    That self-interest is the foundation
    Of all morality, but then, he announces:
    "While I was only interested in myself,
    I was but feebly interested for all that."

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    There is much genuine goodness
    In Adolphe,
    But much of it is subconscious,
    Surfacing only
    At the sight of obvious grief.

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    The cause of this inability to feel
    Spontaneously, is very probably the result
    Of the complex interaction
    Between a hypersensitive nature
    And a brilliant if indecisive mind.

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.

    By reflecting on his surroundings
    To an exaggerated degree,
    Adolphe feels a sort of numbness,
    A premature world-weariness
    Lucid thoughts and intense emotions confused.

    Ellénore initially resists Adolphe's advances
    But after a great deal of persuasion,
    Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
    And soon falls in love.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

    Thanks to the large quantity
    Of notes I committed
    To paper while at Leftfield,
    My beloved college can live again
    Through writings
    Painstakingly forged out of them,
    Such as the poetic piece below,
    Based on several conversations
    I had with my good friend Jez,
    A tough but tender Scouser
    With slicked back rockabilly hair,
    Who'd played guitar in a band
    At Liverpool's legendary Eric's
    Back in the early eighties,
    When Liverpool post-Punk
    Was enjoying a golden age.
    These took place at Scorpio's,
    A Greek restaurant situated in
    North West London
    Following a performance at college
    Of Lorca's Blood Wedding
    In which I'd played the Bridegroom.

    One of the Greats Who Never Was

    "I think you should be
    One of the greats,
    But you've given up
    And that's sad.

    You drink too much,
    You think, ____ it
    And you go out and get _____,
    When I'm 27 I'd be happy
    To be like you.

    In your writing,
    Make sure you've got
    Something really
    Unbeatable...
    Then say...'Here, you _______!'

    You've got the spark of genius
    At sixteen, you knew
    You were a genius,
    At nineteen, you thought
    What's a genius anyway?"
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
    In the autumn of 1983,
    I took residence
    In a room on the grounds
    Of a Technical Lycée
    In Brétigny-sur-Orge,
    A commune in the southern
    Suburbs of Paris
    Some sixteen miles
    South of the city centre.
    And for those first few months,
    I was happy, blissfully happy
    to be a flaneur in the city
    which had inspired
    so many great poets
    to write classics
    of the art of urban idling,
    And the following versified
    Refugee from
    At the Tail End
    Of the Goldhawk Road
    Briefly touches on this phase.
    Paris What an
    Artist's Paradise (as Juliette Once Wrote Me)

    ...my paris begins with those early days as as a conscious flaneur i recall the couple seated opposite me on the métro when i was still innocent of its labyrinthine complexity slim pretty white girl clad head to toe in denim smiling wistfully while her muscular black beau stared through me with fathomless orbs and one of them spoke almost in a whisper, qu'est-ce-que t'en pense and it dawned on me yes the slender young parisienne with the distant desirous eyes was no less male than me dismal movies in the forum des halles and beyond being screamed at in pigalle and then howled at again by some kind of madman or vagrant who told me to go to the bois de boulogne to meet what he saw as my destiny menaced by a sinister skinhead for trying on tessa's wide-brimmed hat getting soused in les halles with sara who'd just seen dillon as rusty james and was walking in a daze sara again with jade at the caveau de la huchettejazzcellarthecafédeflorewithmilanwhoasked for a menu for me and then disappeared back to brétigny cash squandered on a gold tootbrush two tone shoes from close by to the place d'italie portrait sketched at the place du tertre paperback books by symbolist poets such as villiers de l'isle adam but second hand volumes by trakl and delève
    and a leather jacket from the marche aux puces porte de clignancourt losing cary's address scrawled on a page of musset's confession walking the length and breadth of the rue st denis, what an artists (sic) paradise (as juliette once wrote me)...
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
    A Cambridge Lamentation
    Centres on my brief stay at Coverton,
    A teaching training college
    Contained within the University of Cambridge,
    With its campus at Hills Road
    Just outside the city centre.
    A fusion of previously published pieces,
    It was primarily adapted
    From an unfinished and unsent letter
    Penned just before Christmas 1986,
    And conveys some of the fatal restlessness
    Which ultimately resulted
    In my quitting Coverton early in 1987.
    In its initial form, it had been forged
    By extracting selected sentences
    From the original script,
    And then melding them together
    In a newly edited and versified state,
    Before publishing them at the Blogster weblog
    On the 10th of June 2006.

    A Cambridge Lamentation

    This place is always a little lonely
    At the weekends...no noise and life,
    I like solitude,
    But not in places
    Where's there's recently been
    A lot of people.
    Reclusiveness protects you
    From nostalgia,
    And you can be as nostalgic
    In relation to what happened
    Half an hour ago
    As half a century ago, in fact more so.

    I went to the Xmas party.
    I danced,
    And generally lived it up.
    I went to bed sad though.
    Discos exacerbate
    my sense of solitude.
    My capacity for social warmth,
    Excessive social dependence
    And romantic zeal
    Can be practically deranging;
    It's no wonder I feel the need
    To escape...

    Escape from my own
    Drastic social emotivity
    And devastating capacity
    For loneliness.
    I feel trapped here,
    There's no
    Outlet for my talents.

    In such a state as this
    I could fall in love with anyone.
    The night before last
    I went to the ball
    Couples filing out
    I wanted to be half of every one
    But I didn't want to lose her.
    I'll get over how I feel now,
    And very soon.
    Gradually I'll freeze again,
    Even assuming an extra layer of snow.
    I have to get out of here.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

    Both The Destructive Disease of the Soul
    And The Compensatory Man Par Excellence
    Possess as their starting points
    A novel written at an estimate around 1987,
    With one Francis Phoenix as chief protagonist.

    Its fate remains a mystery,
    But it may well be it was completed,
    Only to be purged soon after
    I became a born again Christian in 1993,
    With only a handful of scraps remaining.

    The versified pieces below
    Were forged out of these scraps
    In September 2011, although initially,
    They'd taken shape as prose pieces,
    Only to be edited and versified at a later date.

    The Destructive Disease of the Soul

    No amount of thought
    Could negate
    Suffering in the mind
    Of Francis Phoenix.

    That much he had always believed,
    That humanity is a sad, lost
    And suffering race.
    Sometimes he felt it so strongly
    That the worship of a Saviour seemed
    To be the only sane act on earth,
    And then it passed.

    It was not increasing callousness,
    But an increase in the number of moments
    He felt quite intoxicated with compassion
    That had soured Frank's outlook.

    During those moments, he wept
    For all those he'd ever been cruel to.
    He could be so hard on people,
    So terribly hard.
    To whom could he ask forgiveness?

    It was his sensitivity
    That bred those moments of Christlike love,
    When he cared so little for himself,
    For his body, even for his soul
    When it was the soul of his father,
    The soul of his mother,
    The souls of his friends and relatives
    And everyone he'd ever known
    That he cared about.

    That was truth, that was reality,
    That was the purpose of all human life,
    That love, that benevolence,
    That absolute forgiveness.
    Otherworldly love is painful,
    But it is the only true freedom known to Man.
    Too much thought eventually produces the conviction
    That nothing is worth doing.
    Thought is a destructive disease of the soul.

    The Compensatory Man Par Excellence

    I seldom indulge in letter writing
    Because I consider it
    To be a cold and illusory
    Means of communication.
    I will only send someone a letter
    If I'm certain it's going to serve
    A definite functional purpose,
    Such as that which I'm
    Scrupulously concocting at present
    Indisputably does.
    It's not that I incline
    Towards excessive premeditation;
    Its rather that I have to subject
    My thoughts and emotions
    To quasi-military discipline,
    As pandemonium is the sole alternative.
    I'm the compensatory man par excellence.

    Deliberation, in my case,
    Is a means to an end,
    But scarcely by any means,
    An end in itself.
    This letter possesses not one,
    But two, designs.
    On one hand, its aim is edification.
    Besides that, I plan to include it
    In the literary project upon which
    I'm presently engaged,
    With your permission of course.
    Contrary to what you have suspected
    In the past,
    I never intend to trivialise intimacy
    By distilling it into art.
    On the contrary, I seek
    To apotheosise the same.

    You see...I lack the necessary
    Emotional vitality to do justice
    To people and events
    That are precious to me;
    I am forced, therefore,
    To at a later date call
    On emotive reserves
    Contained within my unconscious
    In order to transform
    The aforesaid into literary monuments.
    You once said that my feelings
    Had been interred under six feet
    Of lifeless abstractions;
    As true as this might be,
    The abstractions in question
    Come from without
    Rather than within me:

    My youthful spontaneity
    Many mistrustfully identified
    With self-satisfied inconsiderateness
    (A standard case of fallacious reasoning),
    And I was consequently
    The frequent victim
    Of somewhat draconic cerebrations.
    I tremble now
    In the face of hyperconsciousness.
    I've manufactured a mentality,
    Riddled with deliberation,
    Cankerous with irony;
    Still, in its fragility,
    Not to say, artificiality,
    It can, with supreme facility,
    Be wrenched aside to expose
    The touch-paper tenderness within.

    With characteristic extremism,
    I've taken ratiocination
    To its very limits,
    But I've acquainted myself with,
    Nay, embraced my antagonist
    Only in order to more effectively throttle him.
    Being a survivor of the protracted passage
    Through the morass of nihilism,
    Found deep within
    "the hell of my inner being,"
    I am more than qualified to say this:
    There is no way out
    Of the prison of ceaseless sophistry.
    There many things I have left to say,
    But I shall only have begun to exist in earnest
    When these are far behind me,
    In fact, so far as to be all but imperceptible.

    I long for the time
    When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
    I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
    Everything I ever dreaded being, I've become
    Everything I ever desired to be, I've become.
    I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
    Fears and fantasies,
    Both wish-fulfillment
    And dread-consummation incarnate.
    I long for the time
    When I shall have compensated to my satisfaction.
    I never desired intellectuality; it was thrust upon me.
    I'm the sum total of a lifetime's
    Fears and fantasies,
    Both wish-fulfillment
    And dread-consummation incarnate.
    I'm the compensatory man par excellence.
    An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

    An Aphoristic Self-Portrait
    Was expeditiously versified
    In September 2011,
    Using a series of teeming
    Informal diary entries
    Made in various
    Receptacles in the late 1980s.
    And as such may provide
    Some kind of indication
    As to my psychological
    And spiritual condition
    Some half a dozen
    Or so years prior to my
    Damascene conversion.


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    Tue, Feb 26th - 7:51AM

    Seven Chapters from a Sad Sack Loser's Life - Chapter Three