Tuesday 26th Aug:
The tag is taken off by a droll gentleman in half-moon glasses. Unlike his colleague who put it on, he doesn’t wear forensic PVC gloves.

Two abiding moments from the tag month. A few days after it went on, I weighed myself and was shocked that I’d put on about a third of a stone. Wandered around in a state of even greater confusion than usual. Then realised where the extra weight was coming from.

Another occasion: I call the tag firm with some questions. No, they’re not available in any other colour but grey. And no, they don’t advise that I decorate it with pink seahorse stickers. The man on the phone isn’t completely sure, but he says it MIGHT count as violation.

Weds 25th August.

First night out since the tag is taken off. I spend it at Madame JoJo’s in Brewer Street, seeing Simon A’s drag queen showtunes evening, ‘The Velma Celli Show’. Lots of twisted and funny takes on songs from Cabaret, Chicago and A Chorus Line. There’s also a spoof of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, the version from the TV series Glee. I’ve still not seen the programme, but I recognise the costumes – red sweaters and blue jeans – just by cultural osmosis.

Weds 25th-Mon 30th August:
Catsitting again in Crouch End, for Jenn C and Chris H while they’re on holiday. The cat, Vyvian, is unusually lethargic. He’s actually suffering from a handful of wounds acquired through fights with other cats (even though he’s neutered), but the marks are so hidden under his fur that no one detects them.

Then on my last evening, he wipes flecks of white gunk from his forehead onto my suit trousers. After much thinking and Googling, I realise it could be pus from an abscess. So I hunt carefully around on his head, and – ta dah! – locate the wound in question. Following more Internet instructions, I soak some cotton wool in warm water and clean both wound and trousers before texting the owners. They whisk him off to the vet the next day. [He’s much better, as of Sept 21st.]

Therapy today: the therapist hears about the tagging, and thinks that not only am I addicted to self-sabotage, but that I use it as way of seeking attention, passive-aggressive style. ‘Notice me, O dole office!’

The sessions now feel so much like hard work, that I realise I’m putting on personae in order to please the therapist. Good Patient. Bad Patient. Both. Which is a waste of time for both of us. So I cancel therapy for the time being. Am in a sort of neutral mindset, as it is: not productive and not doing much with my life, but not strictly depressed either. The therapy was adding to the anxiety, rather than treating it.

Tues Sept 7th
Against Nature at Proud Camden – the last one for now. Grateful thanks to the door volunteers: Alex P, Sam C, Suzanne C. I rather feel I’ve run out of Favour Credit. You can only ask friends to do things for free for so long. Ideally I’d pay the door staff in future, but it’s not possible if I’m already losing money paying the venue (£50 on top of the bar takings), the sound engineer (£100, though he did know the PA inside out, unpacked it, built it, packed it away, and worked all night) and the four live acts (£50 each, apart from the Soft Close-Ups who took pity on me and waived their full fee).

A modest but acceptable turn out (£177), given the tube strike AND a Tuesday evening. I end up losing money once more, but as it’s the last one I don’t mind so much. Am just glad to finish the night with me actually hosting it.

Have learned an awful lot doing Against Nature. About what I can do and what I can’t do. About what I can do, but would rather someone else did; what I can’t do, but could do if I worked at it; and what I can’t do, and will never be able to do. And most of all, what I don’t want to do. Which is promote a monthly club night again. Done that, now. Ticked. It. Off.

I know there is more to life than just ticking off things on a big list, that you’re meant to choose one or two things and stick at them till the grave. But in my case, I’m still finding things spring up which I quite fancy trying out, if only because I’ve not done them before.

I now have a increased respect for promoters, performers, and anyone trying to get anyone else to do anything at all. It’s proper Work. Not Fun. Or at least, promoting is the proper work behind Fun. I still have a terrible problem with these two concepts. In my head, Work is not meant to be Fun. Fun is not meant to be Work. I realise that this is part of My Whole Trouble. Not helped by phrases like ‘Work/Life Balance’. So… Work is not being alive?

A couple of venues have approached me to do something similar with them, so I suppose I must have been at least vaguely good at it. What I may do is try putting on Against Nature as a one-off festival-style event. Festivals do rather seem to be the in-thing right now. Friends are going miles out of their way to get to a festival – Guildford, for example – while eschewing regular club nights and gigs on their own doorstep. The digital era has given non-digital experiences more value. In a world saturated with news coverage and commentary, festivals can be news items AND events.

Thursday Sept 9th:
My joint birthday soiree with Seaneen M at The Hideaway in Tufnell Park. Fourteen friends turn up. Which is perfect for a soiree: not too few, not too many. I love seeing people from the different social worlds I paddle in make connections: David Ryder-P turns out to be from the same small Welsh town as Miss Red. Jenn & Chris provide champagne truffles, and I drink myself into a happy stupor rather than a maudlin one. Given the way most of my birthdays have gone in the past, this is what I believe young people call a ‘result’.


From Alan Bennett’s ‘Father! Father! Burning Bright’:

Midgley took her by the shoulders.

‘Things will change, you’ll see. I’ll change. I’ll be a different person. I can… go. Live! Start!’ He kissed her quickly and warmly and ran from the door down the little drive towards the van. His wife rushed to the door to catch him.

‘Start?’ his wife shouted. ‘Start what? You’re 39.’

I’m 39 now. Still living in the same rented furnished bedsit as I was sixteen years ago (but it IS in a very leafy and sought-after part of North London), and still on the dole, with no savings. Less than the dole, in fact, as I’m paying back a massive overpayment. Lots of time, but no money. But then again, lots of time.

Have applied for a few jobs in the spirit of hilarious optimism, with no joy. Initial enthusiasm has rather been kicked out of me after I gave what I thought was a perfect job interview for a job helping organise exhibitions in libraries. A dozen other people after it, though. But perhaps something will come along soon. I’m available.

Till then, I’m extremely grateful that I’m not doing something I don’t want to do. It’s not quite a definition of a fulfilled and happy life, but it is a luxury.

(And now, St Ives).

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