Bipolar Life and Facebook – PART ONE

It’s funny how life has been treating me recently. At around seven o’clock last night I was squeezed up in the corner of my room on my laptop in a fruitful attempt to surpass round 92 on Bloons Tower Defense on hard mode, and ten minutes later, by some miraculous sequence of events involving Facebook and an ex-stripper girl I’d befriended while working in the capital in the summer, I found myself galloping down the stairs in the hopes that my mum would gift me with five pounds so I could embark on another wild night out in the freezing cold of the city. I literally went from being deeply engrossed in a child’s strategy game in the corner of my room, to ostentatiously sipping away at an expensive cocktail while in the presence of a painfully attractive ex-stripper in a bar in Edinburgh in a matter of an hour – I love you, life, even if you are chronically bipolar.

For many, Facebook is a volatile invention that has merely served as a catalyst for fiery arguments, heated altercations and a place for low-esteemed teenagers to vent their petty issues and post limitless pictures of mirrors. But for me, it’s a life-changing innovation that continues to shape my life in surprising ways. Without the invention of Facebook, many of the most memorable in my life would not have occurred (as tragic as that may sound) and last night was no exception.

I received a message from the ex-stripper for no reason that I can think of except that she must have been achingly bored. Why else would anyone message me? I hadn’t spoken to her on this beacon of communication for months nor had I seen her since the summer, but sure enough, I found myself immersed in the conversation for at least ten minutes before she invited me out into the city for a drink. As much as it would have been a dream for me to have grabbed my designer Emporio Armani jacket, hop into my new Bugatti and blaze off towards the city to meet her, I shamefully had to inform her of the significant financial turbulence I was currently enduring and that it would be impossible for me to meet her that night. But to my surprise, she offered not only to pay for my train-fare on the way back from the city, but also for all of my drinks.

Free drinks and train fare courtesy of a sexy ex-stripper girl in the city – a dream!

I could hardly contemplate what had just happened – I had to concentrate my eyes on the screen for at least ten seconds while a hard object simultaneously grew large in my pants before realising the glory of the situation. I fearlessly accepted her invitation and within a matter of seconds the dream of overcoming round 92 on Bloons Tower Defense was quickly thrown to the back of my mind and I found myself cajoling my mum into giving me a fiver before dashing towards the train station at rapid speeds to catch the next train. Although I remained pessimistic about accomplishing anything other than a hug from the girl, the thought of bathroom blowjobs and riveting sex was certainly a prominent one throughout the entirety of the thirty minute train journey to the city. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for – there was no plan as to what bar we were going to drink alcohol in, what alcohol we were going to drink or for how long we were going to drink it for – but due to the fact that there was indefinitely going to be alcohol involved, and a very attractive woman, this didn’t bother me in the slightest.

The only thing we had actually planned was for her to meet at the train station upon my arrival. I stepped off the train in a notion of sheer confidence, knowing that if I portrayed myself as a man of pride and self-reliance, my chances of possibly achieving as little as a snog would naturally increase as she saw me step onto the concrete platform.

When meeting up with a girl, I’ve always found that the mood and mindset I’m in ten seconds before meeting her is usually the one that persists throughout – whether it be painful awkwardness or upbeat confidence, it sticks like napalm in a Vietnamese jungle. For this night, I was in luck and the fear that I’d say something stupid or racist was non-existent. I was an emblem of confidence, and nothing was going to change that. Well, except for when I realised I’d just left my ten packet of cigarettes on the train and fell into a state of minor depression for a few moments.

However, hastily sweeping that under my carpet of sanguine, she informed me that we were going to go to T.G.I Friday’s for a few drinks – the exact location where I had met her and worked in the summer. I had no problem with this, except that I’d sort of left the place on bad terms. Losing my head on the busiest night the restaraunt had ever seen, storming out of the kitchen and then breaking into a ferocious flood of tears on the stairs is more or less how it went; so to enter into the place definitely seemed ominious; but being me, I did so anyway, and quite shamelessly at that. Free alcohol seems to beat down anything.

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Returning Home With the Wrong Jacket – PART ONE

Last night was more eccentric than the two occasions of Christmas and New Year combined, and I’m still unsure of how that’s even possible given the fact that I was planning to get mortal on both of those bitter nights. I’m the type of person that wanders on out into the world in anticipation of a quiet night in the pub or a subtle movie night with a close friend and then somehow ends up outside in the freezing cold trudging along an unknown pavement, stoned out of my face at three o’clock in the morning with someone else’s clothing on. Everything seems to spiral out of control by twelve at the latest, and nothing ever goes to plan. Drugs, alcohol and snoring old men have unexpectedly devoured the last 24 hours of my life, and oh boy have I learnt a lot about myself.

I’d been grinding the same video game for most of the day, occasionally taking a break to smoke the odd cigarette in the garden, and I was slowly growing anxious of what the night ahead held in stock. Once plans begin to swirl in the air, it’s all I can think about until the plans eventually transition into reality – anxiety really is a bitch. Jimmy and I were planning on indulging in a quick smoke after he had finished work later on in the night and I was more than game given that I hadn’t inhaled a Jamaican roll-up since Christmas eve.

Impatiently meandering around the warm floor boards of my parent’s house, seeing the word ‘Jimmy’ suddenly appear on my phone as it vibrated to the sound of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, I hastily answered the call and proceeded to stuff an old pair of shoes onto my restless feet and scrunched an extra jumper over my frazzled hair as I did. Despite all of the morbid fears I’d had previously that Jimmy would cancel the meeting – the fear that Jimmy’s mum’s hamster would spontaneously die that night and he’d have to stay in and comfort her, a shower of relief trickled over my head as soon as I heard the words “Meet at the tire at eleven” zoom through the phone from Jimmy’s mouth. Just as I trundled out of the front door and onto the sparkling frosty pavements to leave however, I had a peculiar thought – I’m probably addicted to drugs. Wearing nothing but two cheap jumpers and a crinkled pair of jeans, I began my odyssey towards the tire.

There’s something quite frightening about walking through the frost-bitten streets with the desire to smoke illegal drugs at an old tire behind a local rugby club at eleven o’clock at night. Four miles of walking in the stagnant wintry air would certainly not be worth it for anything but drugs and I found myself strutting along the pavement at turbo speeds just to ensure that I was at the tire before Jimmy. That walk to the tire was certainly the most intentional walk I’d ever done in my entire life. Accompanied by two cigarettes and half of a bottle of red wine I’d found in the fridge from Christmas however, and the the four mile trek was over before I knew it.

After Jimmy’s silhouette slowly emancipated into a real person through the thick fog of the night, everything seemed to flow considerably smoother than on previous encounters. Aside from a dodgy lighter deciding not to function of a couple of occasions and Jimmy thinking he’d forgotten the skins for a brief moment, I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable hour of smoking marijuana at a rugged old tire on a Sunday evening. I sat contempt for the entire hour with my arse half-stuck to the ice polished rubber before Jimmy lumbered back to his house only half-stoned. I however, after just a couple of joints, was inexplicably wasted, my mind flickering through a million fiery thoughts at once.

I can never have enough. Every time I remove myself from the warmth of my house, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing or who I’m with, I’m always thinking ahead to conjure up exciting plans for after. I hate going home, because going home late at night always represents the end of an enjoyable time, a transition into a dark, dull house of nothingness – I can’t put the TV on, I can’t venture out into the back garden for a smoke and I can’t even flick any lights on in fear that I’ll wake up the likes of my boring family members. If I’m at the pub enjoying a few pints of Scotland’s finest beer (Tennent’s Lager), then I’ll constantly be battling away on my phone or to a friend beside me for an action plan afterwards, whether it be going to another pub or intoxicating ourselves further with drugs. As I stood lone wolf at the tire, vacant of any form of rational thinking, it dawned on me that I could probably get away with a late night visit to my unorthodox friend Gordon’s house and enjoy a harsher smoke from the discomfort of his garbage-engulfed sofa.

Gordon is one of the more dodgy characters in my life. A rusty old man worn down by society, Gordon lives a quiet, solemn life in a decayed apartment swallowed by the past. He’s played quite an important part of my life for at least six months now, having been a regular at my local pub for most of his days. Of course, Gordon’s cave would never have been my first choice of dwelling for the night, but I always knew him to consistently be in the possession of drugs so the plan was essentially set in stone in my head as I perilously began to walk up the street towards his apartment.

Passing through Gordon’s large black steel gate and descending the cold bulky steps leading to his front door injected me with a familiar buzz. The only thing that frightened me as my clumsy feet clanged thunderously off the rusty clutter that lay scattered throughout his garden was the possibility of him not answering the door and having to perform the walk of shame back to the darkness of my house in the glacial conditions that clung to the air like thick glue. Standing at Gordon’s chipped white door, I realised there was not as much as a trace of a doorbell or any other form of sounding equipment. If there’s one thing you should probably avoid doing at midnight on a Saturday, it’s knocking on the doors of people who least expect it – there’s a high chance that Gordon thought the DEA were ready to raid his house of drugs the moment I battered the blurry white glass with my clenched iron fist. To my own surprise however, the door popped open with a loud thud just six seconds after I’d knocked and Gordon cheerfully beckoned me into his humble abode for a standard night of smoking cannabis and woeful banter.

I’m Fairly Sure My Best Friend is a Killer – PART FOUR

Jimmy initiated his final move, hounding the panic-stricken man in the face with an unrestrainable succession of lethal blows to the face. The man could only do as much as let out a silent gasp of pain and fear as any sound that dared to attempt to make it way out of the man’s mouth was only battered straight back in again by the frantic strikes to the face by Jimmy. Bemused viewers jeered and roared at the immense scene of destruction and torment that was flashing before their eyes while the the bearded man’s friends readied themselves for intervention.

All of this happened in the space of around thirty seconds, with the bearded man’s friends stepping into the fight just before Jimmy was able to gauge his eyes out. A large, bear-like gentleman with stale red hair and an Adidas tracksuit bolted across the scene of the fight and trucked Jimmy square in the face with a clumsy heavy right fist to the back of Jimmy’s head. The drugs and alcohol devoured by him earlier seemed to soak up most of the impact and pain as Jimmy appeared remarkably not phased by the momentous blow he’d just eaten to the back of his frazzled head. Needless to say, the punch delivered by the bear-like character did enough to barge Jimmy up and away from the bearded man who was struggling to inhale a breathe at this point, never mind walk. Astonished by what I had just seen, I strutted over to Jimmy, who looked adamant that it wasn’t over, and asked him if he’s alright. Evading my question, he triumphed his abuse towards the bearded man. I told you I would f#cking do you! I warned you all, fuckin’ c#nts!, he sneered. The bearded man, desperate for retribution in another round of ‘let’s see if I can lose my eyesight this time’, taunts Jimmy with the same childish phrase;

‘Faggot! Faaaaagot! You’re a faggot!’. The man was clearly lost in a bottomless pit of pain, dizziness and drunkeness but everyone in the car park at that moment still looked incredibly sober in comparison to Jimmy, who barely even knew his own name.

Jimmy, who knew he’d gotten the better of the bearded man, now did something that I can only show great respect for. It was this very action that restored my withering faith in him.

He walked away. He didn’t run, speak or even create eye contact with the gang, he just walked away in the direction of the bar entrance, saying nothing as he did. Slightly confused to why he was headed towards the entrance of the bar that had closed at least ten minutes ago, I followed him.

One of the bartenders stood eagerly at the door perplexed by the rumours of a fight he’d likely just been told about. Jimmy, who had lost all touch with reality at this point, ignored the shower of abuse that was pouring over the roof from the other side of the building, and quite simply, asked the bartender (to whom he worked with) for a bottle. The bartender casually replied stating that the bar was closed and that he could no longer sell alcohol. A look of total discombobulation swept over Jimmy’s face as if he’d just been asked to dissect the meaning of the Universe.

‘You’ve had far too much to drink anyway, Jimmy’, the bartender consolidated.

Jimmy then said possibly the most self-destructing thing a man could ever say to a person who shared the same workplace as him.

‘It’s not for the alcohol! I need a bottle so I can kill every last one of those pricks ’round the corner there!,’ he exclaimed, essentially signing his own resignation form.

The bartender naturally laughed, the casual look of the bartender mysteriously looking as if he could relate to the situation Jimmy found himself in, as if he’d been in identical situations time and time again. A hideous tumour of anxiety was growing in Jimmy’s brain, haunted by the bearded man and his friends around the corner. The drugs and alcohol controlling Jimmy’s mind and body then decided to dismantle Jimmy’s job security prospects even further by bluntly asking the bartender for something even more grave than the bottle.

‘Go into the kitchen and get me a blade’, Jimmy directed, as if it was a common question asked on a daily basis.

‘A blade!?’, screeched the bar tender, taken completely off guard by the severity of Jimmy’s question. Jimmy scowled at him furiously and then began ravenously searching through his own pockets. The bar tender discretely closed the bar entrance doors, locking them comprehensively on while he did.

And  there we were, back to square one of the night – standing directionless in the freezing cold of the night under a phantom of dark grey clouds.

We began to walk away into the night, bombarded with the childlike abuse from the bearded man as we did. The man’s friends, who knew it was over having seen him beaten to a pulp on the floor of the car park, tryed their best to contain him. He continue to ring the words “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” through the hollow streets of the night but Jimmy, surprisingly enough, wasn’t in the least bit vexed by the man’s taunts and continued marching away from the building without a hiss. We blundered shoulder to shoulder along the pavement for five minutes before Jimmy eventually cut the silence.

‘I was ready for it’, he musked.

‘Ready for what?’, I asked.

‘I had my thumbs ready! I was seconds away from pushing my thumbs into his eyes! I could easily have blinded him!’

‘Oh yeah, right’, I said with a convincing sincerity in my voice.

I made it a temporary policy that night just to agree with everything Jimmy said in order make the journey back to my house seem like a walk to the post office rather than a hike up Everest as much as possible.

‘I just wish I had my blade on me, I would have shanked every last one of the little c#nts!’, he exclaimed.

‘I know Jimmy, I know you would’ve’, I said.

I took nothing but pleasure from the entire scene of the fight. From the verbal abuse to the physical chaos, the entire thing was a free show of horror and excitement that was like nothing I’d ever experience before in my entire life. I know, it’s a terrible thing to say given the fact that Jimmy could easily have killed someone given he had been armed with the appropriate tools. It was an eye-opening experience that gave me a deep insight into a world that I’d never seen or heard of before.

Jimmy’s rare honourable side meagerly began to shine through to me as  as we continued to trudge down the icy pavement, Jimmy persistently apologising for what he’d forced to watch. I appreciated that, but at the same time my thoughts could only tell me to thank him for the gift of an experience that he’d created for me; a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.

But it wasn’t over, for we came across a long set of stone stairs leading up to a hillside forest a couple of minutes later, to which Jimmy flew up frantically without a whisper and disappeared into the darkness. I reluctantly began ascend to the top to greet him slouched at the top with his drowsy eyes focused absolutely on the base of the ancient steps.

‘What on Earth are you doing!?’, I quizzed.

‘Shut up! We’re waiting for those wee c#nts o walk past so I can burst everywhere single one of them!’, he insisted, in a calamitous tone. ‘Just you wait, I’m going to smash every single one of those dirty little scumbags’, he continued with significant grit in his tone.’

I tried many times to tell him that the bearded man and his friends whom he’d fought earlier had left the bar in the complete opposite direction to us, but Jimmy was having none of it. We sat there silent, time dragging on for more than fifteen minutes before Jimmy’s fried brain realised that I was correct in what I had said, and was not “just trying to suck the fun out the situation”, as Jimmy had so crudely put it.

Our odyssey through the silver of the night continued for another five minutes, Jimmy wreaking of alcohol and damp car park. The night was over, but the experience had just begun. In hindsight, Jimmy made a lot of tragically poor choices that night, but any form of consequences for his actions were non-existent. By some miracle, he kept his job and in his next appearance in my presence he appeared with only minute bruises exclusive to his lower back. The only retribution he faced was waking up early afternoon the next day to a blistering hangover. As for the bearded man and his friends, I haven’t heard Jimmy mention them since the incident.

Jimmy is likely a negative influence on me and anyone he has and will ever meet throughout his life, having already exposed me to drugs and violence after only knowing me for a couple of months. But what he has given me is worth more than most other friends could ever offer me; a lifetime experience. A life experience that will grip my conscience until the day of my final breathe, one that will guide me through significant paths of my life until I eventually witness something even more striking. Although I’m fairly sure Jimmy is a killer, I will stick by him as his best friend for as long as the nights are black and my blood runs red. I am his apprentice, and he is my best friend.

How to Get Banned from Your Neighbours House

For a nineteen year old male teenager, being banned from your own local pub is probably the worst thing that can happen. I wish my goldfish had died instead. This is genuinely how I feel. ‘The Tavern’ was a big part of my life. Four nights a week after work I would scramble to the bus stop, hop on a bus, bolt to my house, throw on a shirt and any kind of cheap Christmas gift standard aftershave, and then bomb it to the tavern (all three metres next door).

Major tragedy inbound: Due to my best friend deciding to carry what he called, the ‘dankest stinky stink green’ (weed) he had ever obtained, into the pub, and then roll it inside the tiny bathroom located directly behind the bar, we both faced a permanent ban stating that we could never step through the glorious black pine doors into The Tavern ever again. Just like that, my social life was obliterated into a million small pieces and thrown to the dogs.

The Tavern was a delightful wee pub located right next door to my house – that’s right, my own neighbours have banned me from their house. Everyone in the Tavern knew everyone, it was a very diverse family of learned drinkers. The jukebox was cheap (free Mon-Tues) and the banter was as sweet as the cider. The owners even had a small dog named ‘Stella’ that would pleasantly weave in and out the vintage furniture greeting all the regulars to a belly-rub invitation and a lick on the foot. Honestly, this pub is (was) the best thing since Gangnam Style.

I later found out what type of marijuana my friend was carrying, and it turned out to be the premium ‘tangerine dream’. Research told me that this dry and crispy weed is one of the most pungent type available on the market which likely explains why the bartender scouted the toilets instantly after my friend came out. Admittedly however, after smoking the ‘dank stuff’ at a bench in the woods the same night I was banned, it did bring me an abundance of salvation which brought with it a temporary blanket of comfort (or forgetfulness) over the horrific events of the previous hour that would almost certainly hit me like a torpedo in the morning upon my awakening to a killer hangover.

That last sip of Blackthorn cider at The Tavern will stay with me for eternity. Sure, I could just go to my local Asda and buy a large plastic bottle of the stuff for a cheaper price, but the junkie-like, wholesale essence to the taste will never match the ice-cold taste of a pint of cider in the place that existed as a major component of my life for just over a year. Now the closest I’ll ever get to that beautifully varnished wooden bar is through sticking my head into the fireplace and listening eagerly to the classic jokes and fables of some of the more ‘experienced’ drinkers at The Tavern.

It wasn’t even the alcohol that most attracted me to the The Tavern. On a good night I would only be able to skirt around the region of 3-4 pints before falling into a great pit of drunkeness. To be quite honest, I’m more surprised that I didn’t get barred the night I stepped into the dangerous territory of having six pints and broke the bathroom door off it’s hinges. At least I actually had something to do with that, unlike the current reason for my ban – I never possessed the drugs nor did I try to roll them into a joint in the bathroom. But, if you fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows, fair enough.

My legacy at The Tavern has now deceased and my social drinking life has entered into frantic turbulence.

‘But Frank, there are plenty of other pubs out there?’, they say. ‘Fuck off’, is what I say.