bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Fortunately Genuine Alpaca on Junction Road

Dear Rachel

The two pictures to the left of this text require some explanation and scrutiny. One is of me looking perfectly normal, if a bit swarthy and knackered, taken a couple of weeks ago. Below it is a picture of me convinced I am hallucinating an alpaca on Junction Road, London N19. I am gurning a bit in the manner of Beaker from the Muppet Show, as this episode happened during a five day mini-breakdown during which I needed to be convinced that anything was actually happening at all. You are therefore looking into the face of a man who is slightly alarmed to be imagining Peruvian mammals on a north London thoroughfare, but nonetheless relieved that within minutes he will surely be strapped to something and quietly wheeled away. I did at first assume that the alpaca was simply a delivery for Ali at Planet Kebabs, however, it turns out that they regularly walk them up from the zoo as – and I quote the handler here – ‘they like to get out and about’. I was going to get it an Oyster card and a season ticket for the Science Museum, but was prevented.

I am certainly sporting the haircut of a nutcase: it cost £8 and took twelve minutes, which is ideal for the self employed, but does makes me look much greyer and more clinically insane than thankfully I actually am. I suspected that I was not in for a scalp symphony, follicle feast or tress party when I went into the barber’s and said yeah can you flick it about a bit and feather the sides here and there a la Paul Weller circa 1981, or Steve Marriot circa 1966, only to find that every time I said anything the barber would immerse himself in a book, listen to his iPod or simply walk out of the room. Also, although he had the same photos of hairstyles and such around the walls the all barbers have, the people in his ones looked scared.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal curious goings on in Nevada, amongst other things]

I should like to make it quite clear at this point that a mini breakdown is not the same as a mini break. A mini break typically involves going to I dunno the Lake District and walking in the hills, or pissing about in a vintage car, or visiting a spa or whatever. A mini breakdown is about as far removed from that as you could possibly get, and, well, you wouldn’t trade in your air miles for one, I can tell you. I first realised that I might be a bit a strung out when a lady smiled at me at London Bridge tube and I nearly burst into tears and asked her to marry me. I ate nothing for three days, eventually emerging from foodly exile on the point of fainting to have a couple of Belgian buns. Buns, I have concluded, are the last refuge of the folorn. I then ate nothing but Belgian buns for a further two days, which is a shame because I used to be a fan of Belgian buns, and now can’t look at one without feeling depressed. I have, incidentally, always liked it when people describe themselves as a ‘fan’, as in ‘fanatic’, of essentially trivial things, such as in this case foodstuffs. This would imply that I am fanatical about Belgian buns, and would reject any incursion by lesser buns, be they choux, iced or hot cross, organising armed resistance in the manner of the Taliban or SS from Afghan cave complexes or the ruins of Berlin should their position ever be questioned.

A life lived correctly should make you want to laugh and cry at the same time, surely. Bearing this in mind, losing or at least mislaying the plot from time to time is, if anything, entirely healthy, necessary, and noble. The now non-existent Printers Devil public house in Slough, which I ended up running after working there for quite a while, had a lovely regular called Shaun Greenhoff, who would drink halves of Castlemaine and talk about football with me during the quiet afternoon sessions. Shaun claimed – and I for one believe him – that he had no memory of anything between Baggy and Britpop as a result of driving across the US in a van while taking absolutely enormous amounts of acid, a la, now i come to think of it, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. One of his favourite off-your-tits stories concerned driving through Death Valley tripping vibrantly, pausing to have a bit of a lie down in the back – which, I would imagine, in a metal box in the hottest place on earth is totally adviseable – and then imagining Morrissey opening the side door of the van, popping his head in, and asking if he was alright. I asked if maybe there had been some other people hanging around outside the van with Morrissey, perhaps, I dunno, a film crew of some kind. Shaun said that actually yes, there was some vague knowledge of other people sort of standing about, but that he had naturally ignored them as he was already freaking out. I told him to wait while I charged upstairs, retrieved what we used to call a pre recorded video cassette, and forwarded to this item, which explained a great deal.

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