Darkness flowed ten years ago, at 3am on St Mark’s Road, when I walked home from A****’s flat.
Such was the desolation in my heart even the warmest of souls couldn’t provide respite beyond a few hours. Laying in bed, listening to empty nothingness, the torment gripped me – the worst bit, the unpredictable disorder before numbness kicks in. Knowing I’d have to make my exit at daybreak anyway, I grasped the nettle of my aloneness and set off home.
From Dalgarno Gardens, I turned onto St Mark’s Road. With the park in pitch blackness on one side, it was disquieting, with exhaustion and all that negativity putting me on edge for my journey.
Down St Mark’s it was just me, a few foxes, the city and the cosmos beyond.
My nerves were shot. I needed the fresh start of a new day and dragged myself towards it. No people, no cars, silence in London aside from my own footsteps.
I turned right onto Lancaster Road, left through Verity Close. Still no people on street level. Thousands slept.
My final turns were Walmer Road then Bomore Road. The leisure centre that was there then is gone now, but I remember rounding a slight bend on Bomore, which put me in sight of my flat, my bedroom…and onto the highlands of Paranoia, sensing that something wasn’t right.
I saw a figure at the gate, hunched over, rubbing its hands, grunting. My emotions morphed my perception and produced a surge of paranoid fear like I’d never known. I’m short-sighted and it was the dead of night; what I saw when it looked back at me was a half-beast, some kind of golem.
Like I’d unexpectedly interrupted some private business of his, which I guess I had, he did a double-take then went back to his grunting business without acknowledging his fellow being. I was close to him, a few yards and he was emitting not-quite-human sounds. At that moment, I saw my desolation – the disturbance that had been wrecking my days and scattering my sleep had manifested as this man-thing.
I walked around that bend and I was out of his sight – then sprinted to the building and gratefully into my flat.
I rationalised this encounter, weighed all the factors…I’m short-sighted…probably somebody drunken fumbling with their keys in the dark…but still, this was my demon. Down St Mark’s Road, my mind had stayed alert; with home in sight it went off-duty and got caught out, the vision awoke the basest, weirdest, darkest fears to flood my brain.
Unthinking cruelty, the capacity of people to go cold beyond zero, to flick their humanity off, along with their commitment to reality.
In bed, the fear and relief gave way to desolation. Home, but I was being denied my human right to share it with *******. Certain that I would not sleep and not wanting to wake A****, I didn’t text her to let her know I had gone but was safe.
I was awoken at 7am by my Blackberry….”Oh my God, where the fuck are you?”
“Oh shit, sorry, I couldn’t sleep so I walked home.”
“I thought you might have gone and done something stupid…”
This was how serious it was 10 years ago.
A decade on, 305 blog posts, if I said life is very different it wouldn’t be true. Darkness flows on, and that same fear gets triggered by cruelty and hostility. It did today. Same story. Everyone’s mind can create demons. Mine even made me see one. But it also sees the angels – and round here they seem to outnumber the demons, even in the darkest of times.
Photo by MNT