I’d been about a year living in Bristol when I returned to Oxford and to my old group of friends. I was about 21 or 22, the year possibly around 1988. At that point I was single for the first time since I was 15. I had split up with a girl of 6 years who had been my first love, and my only fiancé to this day. I learnt a lesson there. I hadn’t handled it well and it took me the time in Bristol to start to bring myself back from a bad place. It hadn’t been helped by an acid trip gone wrong at the same time as my life spent in love was degenerating. So, I eventually returned to Oxford and into a shared house with some of my old buddies. Things had changed between us, but I hoped it would improve. They were my school friends but the split with my girlfriend had created some kind of irreparable catharsis in my relationship with my friends, I never really understood it. Bristol had been a hard time, I was alone with my dreams there and I missed company. My longed for dream was that of getting my band going. My band was in Oxford, so I gravitated back there eventually. I should have known it was over for us, but something new had happened to me; I had grown my hair, I had started to get a new confidence and shine that I had never owned during my claustrophobic relationship. Women were finally starting to look at me. I had loved Nick, I know that even more today than back then, but that love had a dark side; it had throttled us both to some extent, we were too young, we both had too much going for us to stay together, but breaking up had been soul destroying and messy, I had been totally devoted to her right up until the end. I didn’t know how to flirt or chase women. I had given that desire up the moment I fell in love with her. Could I have stayed with her forever and been happy? I don’t think so, I think my nature, or maybe even destiny, demanded something else from me. Finally, aged 22, after having slept with only 3 women in my life, I found myself at the crossroads, like it or not. It seemed I was attractive to women, and so I leapt eagerly into the opportunity to become a Romeo. I remember the night it happened, the very moment it began, her name was Alicia.
I was in a pub called the Gloucester Arms in Oxford with my drummer, Dave. We had just bought drinks and I was feeling excited by grand ideas that would never even get close to materialising, big bands dreams, every kid has them, most lose them along the way, it took me 40 years, I always found it hard to let dead horses go. A blonde girl came up to me and pronounced she wanted to fuck me. The look of envy on Dave’s face was something I would soon come to regret, it ruptured our friendship forever and ruined any chances of our band getting together. But this had never happened to me before; women wanting me was totally new. I left with her not long after that. She took me to a big house in the country just outside of Kidlington where she looked after horses, I don’t know where it was, but I felt like royalty that night, I was a vagabond gypsy, on top of the world. She was older than me, she was a hunter, a broken woman in many ways that I understand better now, but had no comprehension of back then. She carried out her promise, but she was too crazy for me. We saw each other on and off for about a month before she cut me off cold and I never heard from her again. I didn’t mind, I couldn’t really get with her trying to horsewhip me, and screaming inanities while bouncing viciously on my bits, then wanting me to beat her. I found it hilarious, but disturbing. I was just a simple country boy still. One of the last times I slept with her, I found a piece of paper under my bed not long after she left. She had been playing the ‘dice game’ listing things to do and then following how the dice rolled. They involved choices between having a picnic, leaving without saying a word, or sucking me off before picking a fight. It was too much for my young mind to understand. I felt I was with a much older woman, though she was only a few years older than me, still she was far more worldly wise and cynical, not to mention kinky. She would laugh at my dreams that I fearlessly expressed at that time. She called them ‘noble but naive’ and she was right. It didn’t hurt me, I thought she was an injured soul, lost, beyond saving. I wasn’t wrong, I just didn’t know I was on that same road. She knew, but she hurt too much to care. She fell for me in some way; one night after she had driven me to a bar in Islington, driving back, she said she was in love with me. I had few feelings for her other than a sort of self-centred pity and she was a fun fuck, obviously. I said she just needed something to hold onto, it wasn’t love, and that was where our relationship ended. I guess she didn’t want to feel again, and I wasn’t someone she could trust, I was starting to rise. She just wanted to control something, or be loved, or cared for in a way I couldn’t give. I felt sorry for her, but I was scared of her too. I thought I could do better, and that she was busted, but the truth was I just hadn’t been broken yet. I was healing from love wounds, but it wouldn’t be long before I found myself hurting, longing, wondering the same. Just another soul stretched beyond repair in the zoo.
I found myself in that same Islington bar she took me to 4 or 5 years later when I would unsuspectingly walk into it not long after moving to Mount Pleasant. It was a strange experience to be hit with the recollection like a deja-vu, it cut deep and left me wondering about destiny, and the way we seem to sometimes be delivered to places by people. Things connected up. Alicia had been the one to take me to London, the one to lead me into a new way of being, the one who showed me lust and it’s cruel yet oddly honest bounty. Two years later I had moved up to London, drawn by that same lust. My thoughts were of Alicia that night, I was flying high on drugs and seeing things from another angle. I had been through a lot of tough stuff by then. I was still a Romeo, so I liked to think, really I was just a slut. Things had changed. I was a hunter now. I was hungry for that same virginal shine that was now missing in me, eager to feed on some kind of innocence anywhere I could find it. I was one of the fallen, one of the beaten, one of the hurting, looking for true love, but taking lust instead, yet never getting enough to satisfy that strange, perennial emptiness. Lust was easier; it was colder, pleasurably selfish, it didn’t hurt or leave you vulnerable, and I think I preferred it that way.
I still wonder about Alicia, I seem to see things about her clearer now. I am fonder of her memory, I didn’t realise how much she had been hurt or what that meant, now I do. Now I understand how beautiful she was, kind too, but if I met her again tomorrow it wouldn’t be any different. It’s the romance of the lost moment, reality just never comes close, it would always develop to be an empty disappointment in comparison. But that was were it all began for me, with that girl that night. The magic landed on me and stayed for about 15 years.
I sit now alone in a recently rented apartment in Sydney, I am near the beach and trying to make things come together. Trying to find my little piece of happiness. I am no further in life than I was back then, no closer to love, no closer to making sense, no closer to succeeding in anything much. I have the same money in my bank that I did aged 22. That would be zero. I am pretty sure I have been through all the pains and cynicism that I could ever experience. Been through loves, and lusts, yet here I am still; alone, sighing, wondering at this feeling that lingers on each day, so much entwined in life that it must be an integral part of it. And on those lonely nights as I sip Chivas mixed with water over ice, a nostalgia comes, now that I am too old to use the glitter to attract company on lonely nights, even if I went out looking I know I would find nothing. I am not suffering; I have strength and a philosophical outlook, but I have to admit I miss those beautiful days, miss the magic, miss the Alicia’s that would come save me from the moment that might fall, and does now. I don’t know why I was given that gift or why it was gradually taken away. That’s life, right? It sure was good while it lasted and I made the most of it, knowing damn well it would soon be gone, but it makes no difference, maybe it is worse that I had it. But I have to say I felt blessed for a while, and I am grateful for having been granted that to experience. I took a big bite of the peach, but hot damn if I don’t miss the taste now it is gone.
The brief moments of feeling complete and content come when I am so fucked up I can’t speak or feel pain too much, knowing the fall back down is going to hurt so much more than going without would have done, but still people like me have to hurl ourselves at it, it is just what we do. It’s a cruel life whoever you are, don’t let anyone kid you otherwise. Devil or saint. There is no satisfaction to be had here, I still can’t decide if it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. To have been high and lived, or never to have lived. Either way it fucking hurts. I keep hearing those words a schoolteacher loved to say; ‘What you’ve never had, you never miss’ and he was right, the old bastard, but knowing that doesn’t leave us anywhere better, does it? Still we hunger, and still we are denied the pearl. One day soon I’ll die and be gone like all of us, it makes no sense, but that’s just how it is. How close did we get to nailing it?
I put the radio on and hunt for a station that works, it’s a new country, I am lost here. I find 106.5 where Richard talks patronisingly with his soft and velvety voice to lost lovers desperate to express their deepest emotions. Love songs play predictably gushing, new and old. Some take me back, some just hit me where it hurts. I sip the 12 year old whisky; the only salve I’ve got to hand, legally acceptable in Amsterdam. And I write into the computer surrounded by cold walls I cannot see through, and never will.
Tears fall upon tears
for all eternity
The damned have their dreams of salvation
but the righteous and good
will live forever
in fear of falling.