Time for bed
30 September 2002
Just call me Florence fucking Nightingale. Tending to the sick and weak and crippled and leprous, with no reward other than my place at the Lord's right hand or whatever the payback's supposed to be. Even the nurses weren't fit.
I've been awake for two hundred and seventy-three-and-a-half hours now. I'm juggling my job, training my replacement (sorry, my new colleague - slip of the tongue), preparing an installation for the gallery, dealing with my neighbour's love life dilemmas and now playing Good Samaritan for my flatmate. Not that this has made my life any more stressful; I just have to inject myself a little more regularly, and I can cope no problem. The only issue I have is my appearance: I've now got bags developing above my eyes that make me look like a cautionary tale for amateur pugilism, my voice has lost all but one of its pitches, and I drag my feet like a hockey player wherever I walk. That said, with a bit of effort and PMA, I can still act quite respectably. I don't seem to be scaring too many people, anyway. The rest of the time, though, Ed Norton in Fight Club has nothing on me. I hallucinate some serious shit. I don't know how I got to work this morning, or whether the meeting I had yesterday didn't in fact take place two hours ago. More importantly, that guy in the mirror definitely isn't me. Just look at the state of him. I am Jamie's intermittent sleep disorder.
How did things get so fucked up? Why am I still sat here, officially and to the eyes of all my colleagues still at work past 9pm, but doing fuck all but surfing the web? Why, if someone gave me something else for my already overflowing plate, would I snatch it out of their hands and scoop it to the top of the pile? Where does this stupid streak come from?
But if I knew that, things would be too easy. Like if I knew why I never took Charlie up on that kind offer of hers, despite wanting her more than anything in the world. Or why I decided to drink half a bottle of whisky on my own the day before the final interview for my dream job, turning up to the Head Controller of the BBC twenty minutes late with stubble and booze sweating from my palms (I should point out that the stubble was on my face and only the booze was sweating from my palms, but it is rather a nice image as it reads). If I'd played by the rules, I'd be an executive with a beautiful, intelligent wife and probably an adorable kid or two. You might even have seen me on the telly every now and then. Right now, you're most likely to see me staring out of the telly in the window at Dixons, transfixed by my appearance on the camcorders. I'd just keep walking, if I was you.
Back to the point. The one from the beginning. Somehow the hospital seems like it should offer some kind of redemption; I'm doing something selfless like the 'angels' The Sun keeps harking on about (yeah right, like they'd stay NHS nurses if they got offered a job going private, or caring for some perverted ageing millionaire), and the place is so peaceful and so bright and so... clean. I feel like I'm walking down a corridor towards the eternal light, not past wards of wheezing, dying geriatrics. And the gratitude for what's just one hour in twenty-four I've got for myself is almost heartbreaking, this strong character reduced to tears as the morphine wears off and the pain comes flooding back. The knowledge that he hasn't got much longer both helps and doesn't - it'll be better for him when he's gone, but what the fuck am I supposed to do?
Sorry, self-pity's not my thing, but like I said, I'm not 100% in control right now. Maybe I could just get my head down for a few minutes at lunchtime - I'll tell someone to cover for me, I've done it enough times to justify this demand. Things just don't seem to be making sense, or following the pattern: I've got a tune running through my head I don't recognise and the words aren't really making much sense, or did I say that already? I keep catching myself as I fall, but I've got to focus on it now. Recitals: Hamlet. To sleep, perchance to dream - aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come must give us pause. Pro-plus or no pro-plus, I couldn't make it through four hours of that now. I'll go to sleep now. Just for a few minutes, so I wake up refreshed. Powernaps are nothing without control. Especially on the motorway.