Dear Alan – Letters to the Last Days of Youth

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Letter #1 

Dear Alan, Do you ever think of the years 1988 – 1993, that incredible six year long summer we spent together which built in heat and intensity and culminated in you knocking back a bottle of Pernod before ramming your motorbike head-first into the metal railings of Greyhound Park? I only ask because I do, I think of those days a lot. And even though we've not seen one another for almost 20 years I still often wonder where you are and how your life panned out. I imagine you probably grew a beard, became an alcoholic and eked out a meagre, rural existence somewhere, fishing with string and tin cans and using cow shit for fuel... Though I always was romantic in those ways. But that's not really why I write. It's more because of July of whatever-year-it-was, that Sunday morning which brought you to my door, fresh out of a suicide attempt, smelling of aniseed and with a face so laden with drink that it was hanging an inch off the bone. That last great Sunday... I'd like to talk about that.

Dear Alan, I wanted to punch you. You stood there an embarrassment to the art of standing: stooped over and swaying like one of those heavy-bottomed toys which never fall over. Your lipstick was smeared, your eye-liner was run and your long, blonde hair was wiped down flat across across your brow: you looked like a water colour of my mother which had been left out in the rain. For eight seconds you didn't speak. Then you said: “I'm going home, Boy-O... back to Ireland, NOW!” Do you remember? You said that we were killing ourselves but that fate had decreed you was to live. Jesus! Normally you'd knock me up with a joint or a quarter bottle of scotch still rushing with your back swill. The last thing I expected were tears and incoherent tales of how you'd smashed yourself into the railings, survived, seen The Light, and was taking the evening ferry home. Then it was me who couldn’t speak. I had no choice. My closed mouth was all that kept the tears in. And it ended like that. No questions, and no trying to convince you to stay, just those little sounds which precede total breakdown and that desperate bear-hug which always erupts on the point of tears so as men don't have to see each other cry. Four floors above nothing we held on for life, and with the smell of your leather jacket in my nose, I stared across to the park, at your mangled bike which was still caught up and smoking in the railings. And with that embrace we said goodbye to youth and entered the depression of adulthood, that phase of life where we try to reconcile ourselves as people and search around for the things we lost on the free-wheel down. And do you remember how you handed me that little yellow piece of paper with your Irish address on it? Through quivering words, you said: “Now, you make sure you keep in contact, Boy-O... Now you fucking promise me, ya hear!” I pushed the paper away and told you I didn't want your address as I wasn't good at keeping contact and preferred people who were gone to be stayed gone. Really I was just angry and hurt. It wasn't true I never kept contact, it was just I'd never had anyone to keep contact with. When I closed my door I broke down. I wasn't so strong as all that. You should have known! You should have stuck the note to my door, put it through the letter box, given it to my mother, something... not let it drift off over the balcony and flutter away like an early autumn leaf. I suppose we were both weak people acting tough... a perfect breeding place for regrets.

 God, how it really feels like it all happened only yesterday, like I could descend four flights of stairs and come out into that life we once lived. Does it feel like that to you, Alan? Do you live that same shock I do each day, looking in the mirror to see two decades of drug and cigarette and fast food abuse staring back? You wouldn't recognize me now, Alan... I've changed so much, and not all for the better!

Letter #2

Dear Alan, things come and things go and memories come in and arrive on strange winds which I have no real control over. Sometimes a shifting sun can set off a shadow that takes me back. It's as if I'm being constantly thrown around all over the place. To write things down in the order in which they happened is as impossible as it would be useless. The order in which bullets come out a gun is not important, all that matters is the order in which they hit you. That's a weak defence for my writing on whim and asking you to excuse me for abandoning any kind of chronological order. But these words are about emotional order. Time-lines show nothing but how we got to where we are; they completely miss out on who we are. Fuck the clock. The horrors of war are all lost in time.

Alan, I'd like to talk about innocence... maybe our last ever truly innocent day. I suppose there could be many, and maybe you even have your own marker or maybe you just never think of things like that? Still, for me, it's of that day when I was fifteen and you was a little older and we were laying out in the cool of the milky grass, smoking hash and listening to the shouts and cheers of the cricket game. Do you remember how that felt? The sound of leather clacking off wood and young boys and adults jumping up bare-chested and whooping with joy in the afternoon heat? We lay a good distance off, on our backs, with the dark orange light of the sun behind our eyelids. In that hypnotic state you suddenly said, “I've got some speed,” something we'd talked about wanting to try for months. I opened an eye and squinted across. You remained on your back, eyes closed behind your shades, though quite aware I was looking. You pulled a smug smile. God, you was serious! Do you remember how I was suddenly so excited? How my shadow descended over you and how you remained still and teased me more. I called you 'Fuck Face' and prodded and poked  for details, demanding you let me see it. You didn't respond, just remained there: a grin and a pair of black shades, arms flopped down by your sides. And then, very slowly and deliberately, you opened your right hand and in it was a little rectangular wrap of paper. It was as if you had an inch of sun right in your palm. Barely had I time to see it than a cricket ball went fizzing by, followed by the  stamp of some sweaty kid. As he approached you closed your hand, and for a moment it was gone.

Fuck, what an evening that was A kind of loaded revelation. Do you remember? How we experienced one of the greatest highs of our lives? Me, terribly shy and finding it difficult to talk was suddenly thriving and couldn't keep the words in. Everything I'd ever read or skimmed or saw was there on the tip of my tongue and accessible. For a moment I really did feel a part of the world. My elbows didn't feel awkward and bony and my speech wasn't broken or punctuated with 'ums' and 'ers'. And you was the same, shivering with ecstatic speed chills, incessantly rocking away and twisting your hair, a history of Celtic mythology in your dilated pupils as the last Central Line tube rocketed us home. That weekend was the start of real drugs and alcohol, discovering Soho and all her sleazy Rock Clubs and hangouts. Things changed after that. Not for better or worse, they just changed... we were changing. I think we realised that drugs didn't only have to be taken for fun, that they could also be used to give us things we lacked. No matter, along with cigarettes, hash and alcohol, amphetamine also became a regular fixture – and it wasn't too long after that that our mothers' lipsticks started disappearing...

Alan, I hope you think back fondly on those times – you must, really. It'd be a crime not to. Being seventeen and sat crimping each other's hair and doing one another's make-up... Placing tabs of LSD on each other's tongue like we were taking Holy Communion. Do you remember? And what of the time you told me on the 260 night-bus that you was in love and couldn't stop thinking of that mysterious girl who had asked you to dance? And then I suppose you felt very weak and embarrassed and so got angry and punched yourself flat-fisted in the nose. I still remember that bloody, drunken, embarrassed grin you gave, your eyes still smarting and your face twitching from the real pain underneath. I think it was the first time you had hurt in any way but a physical one. Then you made out like it was all an idiotic drunken emotion, and we twisted it around to something cool and wrote 'Love's a Bitch' up our necks in black eye-liner. Fuck, we didn't even know what love was... but we were so fucking right! Still, I wonder what happened to that girl? If she ever forgave you for assaulting her in the Astoria nightclub after you came around from a drunken stupor, mistook her for a squat, stubbled biker and punched her out. And then I have to wonder how you ever fell in love with her in the first place. That really was fucked up. I suppose it just goes to show how vulnerable and needy we really were. And do you remember how we were thrown from the club that night? Our arms twisted up sore behind our backs then rammed head-first through those claret coloured double doors. God, how cool we thought we looked! Tumbling out onto the Soho pavement in cowboy boots and tight stretch jeans and rolling into the bin bags like the Saviours of sleaze. I think it could only have been stupidity that had us back at the club door, banging and kicking away for our jackets, screaming: “Fuck You!!!” at those vicious looking bouncers the other side who threatened us with terrible beatings and broken kneecaps. And d'you remember when our jackets were eventually slung our way, how we were too frozen for them to make much difference? Then, just as we were taking comfort from the thought that we'd soon be being driven home in a warm taxi we realised that the bastards had lifted our wallets. We were left penniless and had to walk 25 miles home down the frozen A40 with chattering teeth, rattling bullet belts, goose-pimpled tattoos and only youth and cigarettes to keep us alive.

 And what about that time when we were both tripping and were convinced we were pilots in the first great war? You wore shades and your grandfather's old cannonball crash-helmet and I sported swimming googles and a child's boxing headguard. Dressed like that and barefooted we ended up on your motorbike, speeding down to Heathrow where we thought the Spitfires were. Do you remember how as we came to a stop in  some late afternoon traffic we spotted two policemen on bikes on the other side of the A-road, staring at us in utter disbelief and motioning for us to stay put? We made out we hadn't seen and zoomed off. It was only the genius of the central divide which stopped us having our idiotic asses slung in jail for the night. Instead , we drove home and strutted around like fighter aces until the acid wore off. You know, that was one of only three decent trips I ever had? My norm on LSD was to flip out and climb the walls, always begging you for guidance out from that world. Those drugs just weren't for me, Alan... especially the hallucinogens. If any drug fucked me up m!ore than tobacco it was LSD. It was bad enough having the ability to see what was there, let alone what wasn't. And anyway, I didn't want to see inside myself or others... I already knew the pile of shit that us humans are. Soon though I discovered my drug: opiates. I annoyed you in those times, I know... drifting off on awake dreams while you were wanting the companionship and brotherhood of old. You liked the image of opiates but not their physical effects... or maybe the effect they had on me? We kinda parted a little then, do you recall? You was flying high and I was dredging along the murky depths. We soon only ever met when you came down and I came up. And the days we had no drugs or alcohol at all we stayed locked in our respective rooms, listening to music and writing poems about death. Looking back on it now we were already halfway to having a psychological dependence on drugs... social occasions had become impossible without them.

Letter #3 

Dear Alan, how's your mother? Is she still alive? Did she ever come to terms with you being a 'transsexual'? It's weird, she accepted it so willingly in me, and yet in You it split her life and faith in two. Do you remember how she started buying and reading all the rock and metal mags, searching for proof that guys who dressed in patent leather and wore make-up were not queers? How relieved she was when she found out that it was much more likely that you was a child-sacrificing member of the Church of Satan... At least confession and a few Sundays in church could cure that! And do you remember how she flipped out at the thought of you returning to Waterford in stilettos, lipstick and eyeliner? How she threatened to disown you if you took the ferry looking like that? In an attempt to flee your present life with respect and enter your new one on the same footing you did the opposite of what most late teens do: you left the house looking like the Bride of Frakenstein and changed into dull, itchy, rural clothes around the corner! I would have understood, you know. Still, I'm glad my last image of you was leaving Wolfe House with your hair crimped and wearing my red leather jacket. Though Alan, I have to tell you, you looked so fucking pathetic and really always did! You were just the wrong shape for glam rock. I only ever told you you looked cool because I wanted to get out and get fucked up and if i'd have told you the truth we'd never have left my bedroom. Excuse me for that. It was mighty selfish. But that's what happens when you stand somebody drinks too often.

While on the subject of family, what ever happened with your father's inheritance money? I heard tales of you pissing it all away during a six month bike ride around Ireland with a shaven-headed gypsy girl? What was that about? And then I heard even stranger rumours of you and Finbar taking advantage of a freshly broken arm and stage-managing an accident in a supermarket in Ballycullane? Veronica told me that you laid down in a patch of spilt milk and settled out of court for fifty grand? Fuck, I hope it's true... it's hearing of such victories which keep me going! And speaking of broken bones, Jesus, I still cringe in horror when I think of that awful time you asked us to break your ankle so as you could get the summer off work to watch the World Cup. I know you'll not have forgotten that. Maybe you're now even suffering from some permanent damage we imparted? Me, twenty years on, I still spring awake some nights to the crack of snapping bones. There's a story floating around somewhere that it was me who finally put your ankle through, but as you know it wasn't, it was that sadistic fuck Paul. I tried, but my brain just wouldn't allow me to bring that steel bar down on you with sufficient clout. I hurt you, but no more. That's when Paul stepped up  to the helm, licking his lips at the ghoulish prospect of disabling a friend. Do you remember how he even took the precaution of packing  books under your inner calf so as to further weaken the intended point of impact? You was lying on your side, half off the sofa with your right leg outstretched and your outer ankle exposed. After agreeing that Paul was to hit you on the count of three you scrunched up your eyes in anticipation of the pain to come. If you was ever going to raise your hand and back out you was sorely out of luck. Paul, showing a glint of humanity, hit you when you wasn't expecting it, on the count of 'two'. Oh Christ, that depraved sound! It was like the crack of a gunshot. And how you shot up in the air, screaming in agony... then worse, all 180lbs of you instinctively coming back down on that foot, which folded. On the floor you shrieked like the banshee, tears streaming because the pain was so intense. ANKLE SHATTERED IN 11 PLACES: that's what the x-ray showed. And sure enough you got the summer off work and together we all watched the 1990 World Cup, the Republic of Ireland crashing out to Italy in the quarter finals.

There was something special about those times... for me anyway. We were living at the arse end of one of London's most notorious, run-down and crime ridden council estates, and yet there was a kind of magic all around which made life glow. Dreams existed in that place. That's what it was. When the day was done and the night came down, God, staring out across London at far off twinkling lights could make you cry. Do you ever think of things like that? See also a beauty in the broken homes and social problems and the human fallout which we had to live besides? Ponder over shared cigarettes like they were kisses? Or remember snippets of useless conversations which have no right to be memories at all? I do, constantly... they all seem like clues to some huge mystery which is woven through existence. In the last years such small things have taken on such seemingly great significance. Maybe that's why I'm writing to you? I don't know. I don't know what these words are for??? They just are.

Letter #4 

 Dear Alan, why on your return to London in the autumn of 1995 did you purposely search me out? I never really did figure that one out. It was eighteen months after you'd left and you found me sitting outside The George in Soho in the same place we had always sat. Do you remember how you kicked me awake from my eastern dreams? I didn't recognize you. You had shaved off your hair and was wearing biker boots and leathers. I thought you was one of the Outlaws looking for trouble. I was properly full on opiates by then. I suppose we had both stopped pretending... or almost. Almost as I have to admit that I wasn't really  as thin as I acted. It was a put on: the limp wrists and sucked in cheeks, as if I was barely strong enough to hold myself together. That's what happens on the crux of addiction when you're still playing around with it. The vomit was real though. Do you remember you patted me on the back as I threw up outside the Intrepid Fox and said you was leaving? I held up my hand and kept my head down, dry retching as you disappeared for the last time. I didn't even look back. Secretly I was glad you was going... there was too much between us, and one night in a lifetime means nothing to me. Still, how did the abortion go? That's why you were over. Young Girl X was up the duff. As you'll never reply to this letter, I hope it passed OK. I still think it's crazy that you couldn't get an abortion in Southern Ireland. Crazy. And did you ever have any children? I reckon you probably did and probably don't have any contact with them. I don't quite know why I imagine that??? You just seemed emotionally very cold towards family and the like. I never had children. I wouldn't bring something with a vertebrae into this world. And that's not a damning indictment of the state-of-play; it's a damning indictment of me: I just wouldn't dump my hand-me-down genes onto someone. And anyhow, you couldn't bring up a child on my morals, and I couldn't condescend to the morality that a child would need to find its bearings in this world. That's the thing with parenthood, you have to deceive from the start. In a way it's a great tamer of immoral men... a social means to get the infidels under control and thinking in the correct way. Imagine that, at twenty eight, you have to start believing in Santa Claus and happy endings again! No, barring some kind of terrible accident, I will never be a dad.

As for the clubs and Soho, well, that all ended ugly too. Rumours were rife that I was shooting dope in the toilets of the Wag Club, and though that wasn't true, it brought out a sickening, square, conservative side of Rock music which I came to despise - everyone becoming morally responsible and damning me for bringing “that shit around 'ere!” Each member of the flock suddenly had a band member who had died from a smack OD, taking their rotten dreams with him. The entire nightclub fraternity first ostracised and then stoned me. Can you believe that? What with every other scenester pretending they were junkies, painting their eyes black and sitting around itching their forearms! And yet, when they thought that someone had actually gotten into that underside of things they cast him out. Really it was all about unfair competition: the pretenders worried about having to compete for cock action with the real deal. So, I was ejected from that clique and banned from entering the clubs I was working for! A little after that my friend Ewan died. When it was discovered that heroin was involved I was warned out of Soho altogether, threatened that if I stepped foot in the square mile again I'd be the next one getting buried. Well, you know me, the first thing I did on hearing that was take a RETURN ticket into town. Nothing happened. One club promoter made a spurious attempt to attack me with a broken bottle – only to be miraculously restrained by some passing eighty year old invalid! I saluted and bowed out the scene.

Final letter #5

Dear Alan, the time has come to thank you for not fucking my mother – it's always the hallmark of genuine friendship. Though you did have ample opportunity, and that was hard enough to live with at the time. D'you remember those evenings that we used to pass in my bedroom having smoking sessions? By midnight we'd be completely wrecked, just sat there staring into the immediate nothingness. The night seemed so terribly lonely and sad in those moments. Sadder still were the noises which came through the wall, from my mother's room next-door: her groans and screams as she fucked her way through the lodgers (even those with rent arrears!) It still touches me to remember how you never once remarked on it, just always stretched across and turned the music up to drown it out. You was the only friend who knew anything of the real problems that were going on in my home. Then of course there was that terrible afternoon when you had to help me lift my mother off the floor and put her on the couch. Do you remember? Gravity had really gotten a hold of her that day, and no matter how we tried to lift her she always flopped about and dragged down heavy in some other place. It was as if her bones had been removed. Again, you never made a thing of it... not a word. We just went outside and shared a silent cigarette on the balcony. That's when she started calling: “Allaaaaan.... Alllaaaaan...” I called back asking what she wanted. She screamed: “I want Alan, NOT YOU!” And so you handed me the cigarette and went to see what she wanted. What she wanted was pretty damn clear: when you opened the door she was lying bollock naked on the couch with her legs spread, a hulk of dribbling meat, like something that had fallen off a Francis Bacon painting. I was just behind and pulled you out the room before you could see too much... and you'd already seen too much. As we got back outside we heard the thud of her body as it fell off the sofa and landed on the floor. I looked at you. “Just leave it,” you said, “just leave it.” And for the first time in my life I did... I just left it.

Anyway, my mother's much better now. She's completely off the drink and hasn't touched crack or heroin in almost four years. Once she gets off the methadone she'll be completely clean. But the thing is this: you really have missed your chance, Boy-O! Ten years ago she went through the menopause and now even the mention of sex makes her shiver with disgust. It's still hard getting my head around that. Most adults find it difficult to imagine that their parents still have sex; I find it difficult to imagine my mother NOT having sex. But it's happened: age has tamed the old girl. In that way, it's really very sad.

Oh Alan, surely all this didn't happen as long ago as the years say it did? But if not then how come we're all getting old, and some of us have died, and my mother's an OAP? Time's passed Alan... time's really passed and it makes me sad to know it. It's such an impossible thing to comprehend. Can you fathom it? It makes me think of this mental retard I knew growing up called Chris. He was in his thirties and I was nine. We used to ride our bikes together, but mostly he just sat on his and watched. Years later, whenever I'd bump into him, he'd start up with these retarded innocent questions... over and over.

“You got the time, mate?” he'd start off with. Then: “Have you seen Johnny lately? How's Johnny? Have you seen Johnny?” Then he'd ask: “What year is it today?” I would tell him that the day doesn't have a year, and he'd reply “Everything has a year!” That's when he'd start up with: “Where does time go? It must go somewhere? Do you know where time goes? Funny thing, time! Where does it go? Do YOU know? Time, it must go somewhere?”

Well, now I'm the mental retard, and I'm asking you: What year is it today? Have you seen Johnny lately? Where does time go? It must go somewhere? Do YOU know?
- - -
Alan, what a life its been. I think I'm tired. Other than our bones we'll never get a break... that's just one of those happy endings I was talking about. The marks they're really beginning to show. I'm starting to look like the life I've led, and I suppose you don't look much better. If you have news don't send it my way... we're different people now, and this letter is to who you was then. I prefer to remember you like that... Young, wild and sacred, kicking back at life while smarting from love's first tender blows. That was You and that was Me and that was another time...

 Take Care, My Friend... In Loving Memory of a time that was... Six summers yours,

 Shane, X

28 comments :

The Pseudo-Impostor said...

Outstanding Shane. You catch the lived moments of your experiences, with a rich honest quality and style of expression rarely seen today. And you just get better. Great stuff man.

Stacy said...

it really is so good...xxx

Elaine Denning said...

I'm in awe of your writing ability.

smackhead said...

Really fucking styling cuz. What else can i say?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Russell, thanks as ever. And thanks for the text you posted under the last post. Sorry I didn't get a chance to reply.

Bank Robbers/Junk Writers... I think we're talking the same language... I just wish others would see the fucking demeaning, insulting value of these labels and kick back against them. The sad truth is, if you really come from nowhere and do something well, the powers that be will always find some way to explain/qualify it.... to reduce it to a lower form of the art.

Stay Well Doc, Shane, X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Thanks Stacy! XXX

I'm not quite sure how I rate that one.. I have some mixed feelings and some sections I'm not happy with at all. It was initially a one and a half page letter briefly touching on all the same stuff but never giving more than a line or two on each event. I really liked it like that, but it didn't really go anywhere. It also took a huge amount of time to write (or more, it was full of interruptions). I'll read through it again in a few days and see what I think... I daren't do it now as I wouldn't be able to stop myself rewriting sentences and changing things about. I already began doing that last night and so had to put a ban on myself reading my own words! Fancy that!

Hope you're well Stacy... Summer creeping in over here... Shane, X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hi Elaine and Welcome!

You just read it well, that's all...

I prefer to call it a writing disability.... it feels like that sometimes when it's just not going right.

Hope to see you around again.... Thoughts and Wishes, Shane; X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Smackhead...

Well, you could have said:

"Five star piece of shit!"
or:
"You bullshitting cunt!"
or:
"Why don't you just do us all a favour and kill yourself!"
or:
"I'm Alan and I don't know you!"
or:
"Shane it's Mum... will you take that piece out about me, please... I'm a respectable woman!"
or
"There's no such place as Ballycullane!"
or:
"What d'you mean he was 'the wrong shape for glam rock'?"
or:
"Would you like me to post you a free bag of smack?"

You could have said any of those things... though: "really fucking stylin' cuz" was just as good! X

_Black_Acrylic said...

"You stood there an embarrassment to the art of standing" haha I'm stealing that one for use in everyday conversation. I'll be sure to give you credit if anyone asks... another hilarious and painful post. Thank you.

bugerlugs63 said...

I hope you're Ok.
I enjoyed it. It was different from you, I was still there with you though . . . Loving it x

Stacy said...

lol at your smackhead response!

JoeM said...

Dear Alan, I wanted to punch you.

Good punch line! Especially after the elegiac paragraph preceding it.

It's as though Jane Austen wrote:

'Dearest Emma, mummy wishes so much to see you again. You have so much to talk about. She especially wants to talk about how you stole her daughter's once in a lifetime boyfriend you bitch!'

and it wasn't too long after that that our mothers' lipsticks started disappearing...

I though at first that that was a drug thing - like sniffing glue. (I'm oh so innocent...)

Did you mean transsexual or transvestite? I often wonder how autobiographical these things are...

You were just the wrong shape for glam rock

Hah! So was just about everybody except David Bowie and Marc Bolan – remember Slade/Glitter/Sweet/Spiders from Mars - all looking like lorry drivers on a Halloween works night out.

Other than our bones we'll never get a break..

Sigh. Another good line I'll never be able to use. (Funny how reading great writing is a double-edged sword for writers).

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey ya Joe...

"I wanted to punch you"

It was very intentionally placed there, and I use that trick quite a bit in my writing... off-setting some deeply tragic or nostalgic moment with a very contrasting sentiment. It kinda prevents the writing from exhausting the moment and gives the reader a little startle as well to keep up interest. I employ the same trick a little later when I'm reminiscing about Alan leaving the estate for the last time, have built up his exit, and then say: Alan, you looked so fucking pathetic!

"and it wasn't too long after that that our mothers' lipsticks started disappearing - I though at first that that was a drug thing - like sniffing glue. (I'm oh so innocent...)

Well that line was supposed to lead readers into a thought like that. I was writing of a kinda escalation of substance abuse and usually that line would have went: it wasn't long after that that our mothers money/purse started disappearing... (or that we started using crack:heroin). So it was a humorous way to explain how and why we started wearing make-up!

You'll notice when I used 'transsexual' it was referring to how Alan's mother saw it and the kinda things she used to say about us/him. But of course we weren't transsexuals. We weren't even transvestites, but there was a lot of play with it, and a lot of play of being a rent boy or a hooker, etc. It all came down from the New York Dolls, as this was the kind of rediscovery of the Dolls glam.. not Bowie glam.

(Not us) But How We Looked

Everything I write happened... I never invent events, but as you know, as writers we then have the liberty of deciding how to portray that. I prefer to say that it is all emotionally honest.. because sometimes the bare facts don't get to the heart of things. For example, the facts are:

I was in my bedroom. The door went. I opened it. Alan was outside (very drunk). He could barely stand. Took a while to speak. Said he had tried to kill himself and was going home. Across the road I could see his bike crashed into the park fence. Five minutes later he left and that evening he took the ferry back to Ireland.

I could write that in a different light every day. but I try to write in such a way so as it captures no only that moment, but other moments... and sometimes that means exagerrating on certain things, sometimes leaving somethings out... sometimes writing two events (months apart) as if they happened on the same day. But I never invent things which just never happened. So everything is grounded in real events, though another witness to the same scene may very well transcribe it in a very different way. I write them up so as it captures my emotions and what I felt, and what the atmosphere was like in memory. Based on real events - it's that.

I was kinda the right shape for Glam rock... could have done with being an inch or two taller, but my downfall was my hair. It was fine once I'd worked it, but woe-be-tired if I hit rain or sweat! The stuff would curl up to just below my ears and I'd be left walking around in all my glam get-up with what looked like a short, shaggy perm! (And this look only worked with long straight hair). The nights I skulked home in the dark from concerts and nightclubs are too many. I even remember being on the train from one gig and a crowd of other concert goers rolling up in fits of laughter at the state of me! It got so bad that in summer I'd actually take my crimpers out with me and redo my hair in Mcdonalds or the club toilet. But they're great memories now... though at the time I thought my hair was ruining my life. X

JoeM said...

Oh right I should have spotted that 'transsexual' was the mother's judgement, not a fact. Especially since it was in inverted commas! (I was thinking, surely not? He's never mentioned THAT before). Maybe because you mentioned a transvestite friend before that confused me.

Funnily enough I've never worn make-up. Though I did go through a phase in my early '20s of spraying my (blonde) hair with gold glitter before I went out. And once died it Ziggy orange.

In the 80s all the straight guys wore make up and all the gays were gymed-up and crew-cutted. Take that cultural stereotypes!

Chef Green said...

Shane,
I loved these letters! I enjoyed your heavier use of the vernacular of that time and the dialect affected speech.

The phrasing and subject matter were so tender; your love for Alan is quite obvious, as are the other emotions that swirl through this beautiful piece.

Thank you for another engaging and beautiful sample of your work. I wonder if you'll ever speak with Alan again?

CG

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ben! Oh, you can have that line... it's officially yours. I still haven't got around to posting you off the little surprise I mentioned. I'll get it in an envelope and off tomorrow.

Hope You're well Ben.. Love & Thoughts, Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Bugerlugs... I don't think the post was so different. I think it keeps loyal to many of the reoccurring themes that run throughout my writing here. The format was a first, but that's true of every other post... writing from point A - B gets very dull after a while and more than even the content, it's often the style that keeps people reading and interested.

But enough of that nonsense... I hope you're doing well and thanks as ever for your thoughts, Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Chef,

In a way all my close friends have been lovers... the friendship was that intimate,. And with me it can only be that way because very little is out of bounds and I like to be free to say anything at any given moment. My life has not been one of many friendships... and I'm not a person who has a phone full of friends or even anyone to wave to in the street, but the friendships I have had have all been very intimate... some more intimate than the sexual relationships I've had. When I'm friends or lovers with someone it is right to the bone... and that's often been very hard on people, as for all our love they were helpless to pull me from the path I was walking. I think I've disappointed a lot of people.. but it's only because they held expectations which I didn't care for.

I'm pretty sure i'll never speak with Alan again. That was aniother time and we're not the same people as we was... in a sense there's no-one to speak to. Even when we met after 18months life had separated us so much... so God only knows what twenty years will have done. XXX

darren said...

hi Shane. your earlier commenters have beaten me to the punch of pasting back all the memorable lines from this post. i read on average two books a week and i'm lucky if there's one memorable line in each book and here you are writing them for fun. its quite daunting. but answer me honestly, it must piss you off that you're writing for free, no? and why do you think that is? Daz

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Darren,

It doesn't piss me off I'm writing for free, no... Even if I had a book deal I'd still post my stuff online for all... even if I had to do that secretly to avoid legal troubles. So my words will always be available for free and anyone who will deal with me will have to accept that. It is frustrating and hard, though... Of course I'd love to be able to live of my words, even just being paid enough to cover a years worth of minimum wage work. I'd accept that... would even make it work for slightly less. As for why it doesn't happen, well I won't go into that just now (i haven't the time) but I'm not totally blameless and in many ways don't help myself. But this thing cuts right through many issues of personal politics and ethics, and there are many things which I won't do to get my name on a book. Still, I'm sure the right person will come along... it'll just take a bit of a maverick to take a chance on me. X

The Pseudo-Impostor said...

All good things come to an end. Bad things too. The End

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey again Russell...

Well, as we're believers in nothing I suppose we get to escape that common fate... and we didn't even have to pray for it! X

BronzeAge said...

Truly great writing mate.

I had to stop reading after letter two to take a break and soak in the experiences you'd shared. I didn't want to rack them up like lines of coke; I wanted to enjoy them slowly.

Still have the others to read, but letter two really touched me; my best friend from 14 to about 19 was my wingman, my drug buddy, my confidant. We explored drugs, and had many experiences together, and had crazy experiences (mad stuff like grudgingly agreeing to give some heroin to the 30 year old woman who lived downstairs with her husband and young child, and would come up to my apartment to smoke weed with us after the hubby and kid were asleep; she vomited out my window)

The description of you two at the cricket game had me enthralled and also reawakened the yearning I felt at the time; I don't know your sexual orientation, but I'm gay and my mate was straight.

I desperately wanted to be affectionate with him, to hold him, to bask in those small moments where I could feel his approval and friendship through his physicality, where he "threw me a bone", as it were, and he would rub my arm, or give me a hug, or give me that cheeky grin.

I'm sorry for rambling about myself; your writing stirs up memories and feelings in a unique way. I've not experienced writing touching me in this way. Not trying to gush, but it's something truly special.

I can't wait to read the rest, and enjoy the feast of reading in front of me in the form of all your other blog posts.

Peace

BronzeAge

Andy Frankham-Allen said...

This takes me back. You know, I hated Alan - I always thought he was stealing my mate off me. Silly, I know, but at the time it felt like a real and justified reaction.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Andrew, that's just normal... I think in the early days of my friendship with Alan he was jealous of my friendship with you too. For me it wasn't really between people but things that were pulling away inside me. I needed wildness and fun and to see the life that had surrounded me all those years. And not just to see it, to kinda see it in the same context in which it had happened. The Alan road led me in that direction and he was older and tougher and (yet impressionable) - the perfect person to hide behind until I was ready and confident enough to really come out as myself. In a way those were the two choices at 14/15:
Andrew: a secretive, extremely intimate friendship where I'd need to internalize everything.
Alan: An open, unattached friendship where I could externalize everything.

And I so badly needed to externalize things at that point. Show the entire world the hurt and anger I felt then. I didn't want a bedroom crucifixion but to nail myself up in front of the world. You have to remember as well I was the young side of 14 at the peak of our friendship and it can get pretty scary when you sense that there are more intimate leanings coming from a boy a enough years older to want to do more than share the bed head-to-toe. I think I'd only kissed one person up to that point (and that was your sister!!!) Also, as you know, I'm not a follower... people can't call me over in their direction. I go which awy I have to and be damned with it. Alan no more took my friendship from you than I went that way and took him with me. Hence, he was kinda into greasy, biker rock when he met me and it was me who introduced him to lipstick and eyeliner and darkness and ripped down leopard print blouses - not the other way around.

Alan aside, I was always a couple of footsteps into the tougher side of White City life: the fighting, crime, drugs. That wasn't you and there are loads of pressures on a young person growing up in such a place as that and many things you have to do to protect yourself and ensure you become one of the hunters and not one of the hunted. As adults alll that nonsense changes, but 13- 19 on one of London's toughest estates it's not easy (and life can be a living hell, as you know). There's only two ways to freedom: in your bedroom planning Armageddon; or outside being in one of the roaming hoardes. Both come at a price. But that's all a part of growing and preparing for the onslaught to come. I prefer just to celebrate those beautiful days and see a romance in all that passed. We were all so fresh and naive and I can smell the summers in that place as I type... X

Andy Frankham-Allen said...

This is all very true. When you're young (and I was only ever three years older than you - literally to the day, remember)you seldom get the context, only the moment. I can see now, with the eyes of a man who's experienced all sides of life (well, almost), why you needed to go with Alan. And it's cool. You know I don't hold it against you. We made our peace a few years ago now (and I've even got used to your absences every now and then). You and I need to talk much more than we do - not least of all because you've experienced a lot more of this dark world than I, and such understanding will help me exploring the journey of one my leading characters in The Garden saga (book two of which I'm writing now, for publication later this year). :) x

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