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Suburban Gothic

18 January 2001
Neil goes back to his roots.

"You're a bit young to be going there," said the woman from the city who sold me the ticket. She has elderly relatives who live in the town where I grew up. This is not an uncommon occurrence.

"Check it's hot all the way through." I have reheated a thousand meals. "That goes in the drawer." I have lived in this house all my life. I pace its limited dimensions; the initial burst of friendliness has given way to more familiar patterns of behaviour: sullen contempt, unspoken disapproval, boredom. My stereo is in the city, the noise has moved out of this house.

The cold traps me inside and I recall the alien memory of sunny days; an unwilling, auburn-haired boy, burning on the beach in the company of my meek mother and her formidable friends. Those fierce, dog-walking ladies who exerted such a terrifying fascination. We were brought here to love the sea as my mother had done: was I wilfully perverse even then?

They don't question my going out and plan their meals around me; I take over the phone, the computer, the car: sneering at their interests, trampling over their new-found freedom. My grandmother sits on the new furniture, sighing for the loss of my hair.

At the party I hover around the door whenever anybody leaves, these long-standing friends and their co-habiting partners, in the hope that any of them will hug me.

Sleeping on the back-seat my chest tightens and I have to concentrate to breathe, like at fourteen year-old sleepovers. I assume it is the dog hairs before remembering that our dog has been dead for almost five years. All the dogs of my childhood are dead.

The train back is delayed and I am sat at the station for forty minutes. I stare numbly across at the opposite platform, my hands jammed into my pockets; the paint on the wooden buildings is yellowed and peeling, the rubbish bins have not been removed- no bomb threat here.

Some boys begin to lob stones across the tracks, raining them down in great curving arcs. I watch them for ages, the only entertainment; I envy them their caps and their jackets, their local-lad solidarity, but I'd've hated them when I was that age: I would have sat on the platform on my own, just as I do now.

A girl appears in a Korn top; her unattractive, fifteen year-old face is angular, she hugs herself against the cold and stands on her own, smoking a cigarette. Then two things happen simultaneously: in the distance, above the dark skeleton of a tree, the sun appears, whilst between the plastic awnings which cover the parallel platforms, their transparency tinted a fungal green, it begins to rain.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

17 June 2002. Neil writes: Cockfosters
23 May 2002. Neil writes: Siege Mentality
29 April 2002. Neil writes: Oh So Pretty
1 April 2002. Neil writes: Lost
11 March 2002. Neil writes: These Are The Days
14 February 2002. Neil writes: Bedtime Story
21 January 2002. Neil writes: Said She Was An Artist
24 December 2001. Neil writes: Here's All the People
3 December 2001. Neil writes: On Antibiotics
8 November 2001. Neil writes: Private Schooling
15 October 2001. Neil writes: Morning After
20 September 2001. Neil writes: Flightpath
27 August 2001. Neil writes: Tsarina
2 August 2001. Neil writes: Family and Friends
9 July 2001. Neil writes: My Fabulous Weekend
14 June 2001. Neil writes: The Sound of Music
21 May 2001. Neil writes: Lethal Injection
26 April 2001. Neil writes: Voter Apathy
2 April 2001. Neil writes: ET
5 March 2001. Neil writes: The Shadow Over Brunswych
12 February 2001. Neil writes: Bibliofile
18 January 2001. Neil writes: Suburban Gothic
25 December 2000. Neil writes: Many in Body, One in Mind
30 November 2000. Neil writes: Urban Regeneration
6 November 2000. Neil writes: In Extremis
12 October 2000. Neil writes: Obituary
18 September 2000. Neil writes: Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell!
24 August 2000. Neil writes: Parent Power
7 August 2000. Neil writes: Love Letter

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